*THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS PHOTOS OF FOOT CONDITIONS*
Do you have a foot condition? Do you know what it is, and how it can be treated? We have created this article to help you to identify some foot problems you might be encountering, and also the best treatments available. So get your toes out and have a look.
If you are a diabetic, please get advice from your Pharmacist/GP regarding any foot injuries/conditions
1. Fungal Nail Infection
Fungal nail infections are common. They’re not serious but they can take a long time to treat.
Causes: Fungal nail infections can develop when your feet are warm and damp a lot of the time. You’re more likely to get an infection if you wear running shoes or trainers for a long time and have hot, sweaty feet.
Symptoms: You may have nail fungus if one or more of your nails are:
- Whitish to yellow-brown discoloration
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged
- Distorted in shape
- A dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail
- Smelling slightly foul
Nail fungus can affect fingernails, but it’s more common in toenails.
Treatments: Our Pharmacists recommend Curanail as an effective anti-fungal nail cream for a Fungal Nail Infection. It is a once weekly treatment for mild infections and provides treatment for up to two nails. For the majority of sufferers, Curanail can actually get rid of the infection.
Prevention: You can prevent your nails from a fungal infection by following the Do’s & Don’ts below:
- treat athlete’s foot as soon as possible to avoid it spreading to nails
- keep your feet clean and dry
- wear clean socks every day
- wear flip flops in showers at the gym or pool
- do not wear shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty
- do not share towels
- do not wear other people’s shoes
- do not share nail clippers or scissors
2. Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that affects the feet.
Causes: Athlete’s foot can be caught from other people with the infection. You can get it from walking barefoot in places where someone else has athlete’s foot – especially changing rooms and showers, you can also get it from touching the affected skin of someone with athlete’s foot. You’re more likely to get it if you have wet or sweaty feet, or if the skin on your feet is damaged.
Symptoms: You may have athlete’s foot if you have:
- a red scaly rash
- itching, stinging and burning between your toes or on the soles of your feet
- blisters that itch on your feet
- cracking and peeling skin on your feet, most commonly between your toes and on your soles
- dry skin on your soles or sides of your feet
- raw skin on your feet
- toenails that pull away from the nail bed
Treatments: Athlete’s foot is unlikely to get better on its own. But you don’t usually need to see a GP. Our Pharmacists recommend Lamisil AT Cream for the treatment of Athlete’s foot. Apply once a day for a week in a thin layer and rub in lightly. You should see an improvement in your skin condition in a few days, although full skin healing after the infection has cleared will take longer, up to four weeks, because of damage caused during infection.
Prevention: You can prevent athlete’s foot by following the Do’s & Don’ts below:
- Dry your feet after washing them, particularly between your toes. Dab them dry rather than rubbing them.
- Use a separate towel for your feet and wash it regularly.
- Take your shoes off when at home.
- Wear clean socks every day. Cotton socks are best.
- Do not scratch affected skin – this can spread it to other parts of your body
- Do not walk around barefoot – wear flip-flops in places like changing rooms and showers
- Do not share towels, socks or shoes with other people
- Do not wear shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty
Warts and verrucas are small lumps on the skin that most people have at some point in their life.
Causes: Warts and verrucas are caused by a virus. They can be spread to other people from contaminated surfaces or through close skin contact. You’re more likely to spread a wart or verruca if your skin is wet or damaged. It can take months for a wart or verruca to appear after contact with the virus.
Symptoms: Verrucas usually develop on the soles of the feet. The affected area of skin will:
- be white, often with a black dot (blood vessel) in the centre
- be flat rather than raise
- may appear in various shapes and sizes
- sometimes be painful if they are on a weight-bearing part of the foot
Treatments: You can get effective treatments for Verrucas in the pharmacy. Some treatments can take up to 3 months to complete. Our Pharmacists recommend using Scholl Verruca & Wart Complete. This treament works by works by rapidly freezing the verruca. After application a blister will form. The verruca or wart will usually fall off within 10-14 days and new healthy skin will grow in its place. It starts to work in 40 seconds and is also suitable for childern aged 4+.
Prevention: Most people develop one or more warts/verrucas at some time in their lives, usually before the age of 20. You can help reduce the occurrence of verrucas by following the Do’s and Don’ts below.
- wash your hands after touching a wart or verruca
- change your socks daily if you have a verruca
- cover warts and verrucas with a plaster when swimming
- do not share towels, flannels, socks or shoes if you have a wart or verruca
- do not walk barefoot in public places if you have a verruca
- do not scratch or pick a verruca
4. Corns and Callouses
Corns and Callouses are hard, thickened areas of skin that typically occur on the feet.
Causes: Pressure and friction from repetitive actions cause corns and callouses to develop and grow. Some sources of this pressure and friction include:
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes.
- Skipping socks.
- Other medical conditions that affect the alignment of the bones in your feet such as bunions, hammertoe and bone spurs.
Symptoms: You may have corns and callouses if you have:
- hardened, thick areas of skin;
- skin is rounded or conical and may appear as a bump;
- dry, scaly, or flaky skin, can lead to foot pain if they interfere with walking or other activity. Callouses are typically painless.
***If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow, consult your doctor before treating a corn and callous on your own.***
- Soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes, or until the skin softens.
- Use a pumice stone brush or a foot file, carefully file the corn. Gentle circular or sideways motions help remove the dead skin. Becareful not to take off too much skin as this can lead to bleeding and infection.
- Apply a moisturiser such as Flexitol Moisturising Foot Cream, which contains Vitamin E and 10% Urea in a rich moisturising base.
- Use carnation corn plasters which contain salicylic acid to loosen the thick layers of dead skin
Prevention: You can prevent corns and callouses developing by following the Do’s and Don’ts below.
- wear comfortable shoes, that fit your feet correctly.
- use protective plasters and bandages or supports over areas that rub against your foot wear
- use moisturiser on your feet everyday to keep the skin soft.
- do not wear ill fitting shoes with sharp points and high heels.
- do not wear ill fitting socks.
- do not walk barefoot regularly as the shin thickens naturally to protect itself
5. Cracked Heels
Cracked Heels, can be irritating and sometimes painful. They are also known as fissures.
Causes: Cracked heels can occur for a number of reasons, dehydrated skin, aging skin, obesity, standing for long periods of time, open heel shoes. But also by lack of some vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc. As well as a number of medical conditions such as but not limited to:
- Athlete’s foot
- thyroid disease
Symptoms: You may have cracked heels if you have:
- dry, hard, thickened skin around the rim of the heel
- flaky skin.
- pain, possibly severe.
- red, inflamed skin.
- Soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes, or until the skin softens.
- Use a pumice stone brush or a foot file, to remove any hard, thick skin.
- Apply a moisturiser such as O Keeffe’s for Health Feet, that heals, relieves, and repairs extremely dry, cracked feet.
- Apply a layer of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly at bedtime and cover with socks. In the morning, your feet should feel soft and supple.
Prevention: You can prevent cracked heels by following the Do’s and Don’ts below.
- soak your feet regularly in lukewarm water to keep the skin soft and smooth
- Stay hydrated
- Exfoliate your feet regularly.
- Apply a daily moisturiser
- Take a multi-vitamin that contains Iron & zinc
- do not walk barefoot in public places
- do not wear dirty socks.
- do not expose your feet to hot water or hot sun regularly
- do not stand around for prolonged periods of time, especially in open heeled shoes.
- do not use harsh soaps that can strip your skin of natural oils
A Bunion is the term for a bony lump that forms on the side of the big toe. It occurs when some of the bones in the front part of your foot move out of place.
Causes: Anyone can get a bunion, but they are more common in women. Bunion causes can include:
- Wearing of ill-fitting shoes—especially shoes with a narrow, pointed toes, as they force the toes into an unnatural position
- Hereditary —bunions can run in families due to their shape and structure
- Having an inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, or a neuromuscular condition, such as polio
Symptoms: You may have a bunions if you have:
- A bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe.
- Swelling, redness or soreness around your big toe joint.
- Corns or callouses — these often develop where the first and second toes rub against each other.
- Ongoing pain or pain that comes and goes.
- Limited movement of your big toe.
Treatments: There are plenty of ways to ease the pain that bunions cause, but surgery is the only way to permanently remove the bunion and correct the deformity. For non-surgical treatments, to ease the pain our pharmacists recommend the following steps;
- Wear wide fitting comfortable shoes that provide plenty of space for your toes.
- Use bunion gel protectors, bunion pads or bunion cushions protectors. They can act as a buffer between your foot and your shoe and ease your pain.
- Over the counter pain relief such as Panadol or ibuprofen can help you control the pain of a bunion.
- Apply ice to your bunion after you’ve been on your feet for a long time, or if it becomes inflamed.
Prevention: You may be less likely to develop bunions if you follow the Do’s and Don’ts below:
- wear shoes that fit properly
- have your feet measured when buying shoes
- exercise your feet by picking up objects with your toes
- Shop for shoes in the evening, your feet normally swell during the day.
- do not wear tight fitting shoes.
- do not wear shoes with high heels or pointy toes