General Footcare Tips for Athletes Foot
Wash feet daily and dry thoroughly.
Don’t share footwear.
Wear cotton socks and shoes made of leather or natural materials – not synthetics – sandals are good.
Change shoes daily to allow them to dry out – it takes up to 24 hours for footwear to dry out!
See your podiatrist if symptoms don’t resolve.
9 Common Foot Problems
1. Fungus infection
Tinea refers to a group of fungal infections affecting the skin or nails which thrives on warm / moist environments (such as the feet). In the skin it can have the appearance of peeling / blistered skin and the nails may become discoloured yellow or white.
Certain foot types can make your feet more prone to bunion formation. Bunions are a progressive disorder which begins with the leaning of the big toe towards the second toe, which creates the characteristic bump on the side of the foot. Orthotics and footwear advice can reduce the production of a bunion and relieve the pain.
Poorly controlled diabetes can affect the supply of blood and nerves to the feet. Nerve damage reduces the feeling in the feet and poor circulation may result in injuries and infection taking longer to heal. Regular examination of foot pulses, testing of reflexes, vibration and pressure sensitivity by your podiatrist will help detect any changes early.
4. Corns and calluses
These are the most common foot problem. As we stand / walk / run, our feet carry up to three times our body weight (during running). Pressure placed on the foot can become unbalanced which results in friction on certain areas, such as the balls of the feet and heels. The body may respond to pressure by producing thickenings in the surface layer of the skin called calluses. If the pressure gets concentrated in a small area, a ‘hard corn’ may develop. ‘Soft’ corns form between toes where the skin is moist as a result of friction &/or inadequate drying. Ill fitting footwear are a common cause of corns and calluses. Your podiatrist is able to gently remove the calluses and corns.
5. Heel Pain
Heel pain has many causes but it is usually the result of faulty biomechanics (ie. the way we walk). Two common causes of heel pain are Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. Heel spurs result from strain on the muscles of the foot resulting on a bony growth under the heel. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the long band of tissue that connects the heel and the ball of the foot. Heel pain may be aggravated by shoes that lack support, excessive rolling in of the feet, jumping and running on hard surfaces.
6. Biomechanics / Orthotics
To treat chronic foot pain your podiatrist will assess the anatomy and function of the foot and lower limb. The treatment may include specific exercises and the prescription of orthotics to correct / improve the functioning of the feet. Orthoses are inserts to reduce foot pathology. There are many types of orthoses – ranging from off the shelf generic devices through to custom devices where a plaster cast and prescription based on a biomechanical assessment are made.
Pronation (rolling-in) describes the movement of the foot when it comes in contact with the ground to absorb the shock from the ground. Excessive pronation is where the foot pronates beyond the limits. This can cause increased stress on the muscles, tendons, ligaments of the foot and lower leg. Pronation commonly affects the knees, hips and lower back . Over pronation can be corrected via the use of orthotics which helps improve the gait function.
8. Ingrown Toe Nails
Ingrown toe nails can occur due to incorrect cutting, poorly fitting socks / shoes, trauma, picking nails or nails that grow deep into the sides of the toe. Surgery is required when the ingrown nail repeatedly gets painful with or without infection. A nail wedge resection is performed under a local anaesthetic to remove the offending piece of nail and the area is treated with a chemical to inhibit nail growth in that area.
Commonly known as plantar warts or verrucea pedis on the foot due to their location are a viral infection that commonly affects children’s feet. Warts are extremely contagious and easily spread in moist areas such as swimming pools, gym change rooms / showers. Warts can become painful due to their weight bearing location. It is recommended to seek treatment early as they can easily spread and become a chronic problem.