Common Foot Problems and What They Reveal About Your Health

We’ve all experienced sore feet after a long hike or some dryness after a dip in the pool, but sometimes you end up dealing with slightly more serious, but still common foot problems, like athlete’s foot or corns. While most of us pay a lot of attention to the skin on our faces, arms and legs, we tend to neglect our feet – despite the fact that they’re one of the hardest-working body parts.

Read on to learn more about the most common foot problems related to skin health, so you can identify them as early as possible and proactively prevent them.

Fungal and Bacterial Problems

No part of your body is completely immune from fungal or bacterial issues, but your feet are most vulnerable since they’re oftentimes inside socks and shoes, which are usually dirty and unsanitary. This warm, humid environment paves the way for infections, most commonly athlete’s foot, which is characterized by dryness, pain, blisters, itching, and peeling. (Note: This condition can inflict non-athletes as well.)

To avoid these common foot problems, keep your feet, socks, and shoes dry and clean. If you plan to work out, bring an additional pair of sandals you can wear after your sweat session so your feet have time to dry.

Unfortunately, once you have fungal or bacterial problem, you most likely need medication from a medical professional to get rid of it – so avoid the problem altogether and save yourself from discomfort.

Severe Dryness and Cracking

Dry feet are one of the most common foot problems, and are virtually inevitable if you’re facing an especially cold winter or regularly wear sandals for long periods of time. Something as simple as forgetting to moisturize can also cause dryness, particularly on the heels. In fact, if not properly and quickly addressed, the cracks in your heels can deepen, causing uncomfortable pain.

To help with dry skin on feet, make sure you apply a lotion or cream every day after you shower while your skin is still damp. This makes it easier for skin to absorb products. If you’re especially prone to dry heels, use a potent solution specifically formulated to heal and regenerate skin.

Corns and Calluses

Your feet are constantly subject to friction against your shoes and the ground. Over time, this pressure can cause your skin to thicken, become rough and waxy, and develop raised bumps. Corns are typically inflamed, painful, and sensitive, with hardened centers – and are usually formed on the toes and sides of the feet. Calluses, on the other hand, are usually found on the soles or heels of your feet, covering a larger surface area without causing much pain.

To minimize your chances of either condition, make sure you wear shoes that fit well, and always wear socks to provide a cushion. If you get corns or calluses, seek help from a podiatrist, who may offer medication.

Plantar Warts

Warts can appear on any part of your body. They are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) entering the skin through a cut or other opening. When this occurs on the feet, it’s called a plantar (“soles of feet”) wart. While warts generally appear as painful, rough bumps, plantar warts often grow inward, since they’re pushed in from the pressure against the bottom of the foot. In fact, because plantar warts are flat, they’re often left untreated, because they are confused for a callus. Warts can either go away on their own or spread, so it’s important to visit your podiatrist as early as possible.

General Tips for Healthy Skin on Your Feet

  • Avoid shoes that feel too tight and cause friction.
  • When you’re wearing closed-toed shoes, wear socks.
  • Wash, scrub and moisturize your feet daily, paying special attention to your heels.
  • Always have an extra pair of comfortable sandals handy in case your feet start hurting from wearing heels or become sweaty after a workout.
  • Take extra caution if you’re an athlete, or are otherwise very active, by keeping your feet dry and clean. Use baby powder if needed.

So, if you are dealing with any of these issues, don’t forget that these are common foot problems, and you are definitely not alone!