Approximately 75% of Americans will experience foot problems at some point in their lives. That’s because we tend to spend a lot of time on our feet, exercise strenuously, and wear shoes that don’t fit properly. Foot pain is so common that we now see multiple kinds of shoes for people with foot problems on the market. Here are just some of the foot ailments you might be suffering and what you can do about them.
Many people suffer from ingrown nails, which cause the toenails to dig into the sides of the skin. This can lead to infections and foot pain. Ingrown nails are the result of shoes that push the toes too close together or by not cutting the nail straight. You probably need extra wide shoes or shoes for people with foot problems if you’ve dealt with ingrown toenails in the past. It can be especially important for people with diabetes to prevent ingrown nails and see a doctor if they develop.
Toenail fungus can be quite common and also difficult to get rid of. Fungus gives the toenails a discolored and deformed appearance. It’s caused by a trauma to the nail that lifts or separates the nail from the skin. Ill-fitting shoes, pedicures, or a foot injury can all cause trauma and create a perfect home for fungus to grow. You will need to see a doctor to eliminate the fungus and make sure to wear loose-fitting and breathable shoes, such as mesh walking or running shoes.
Athlete’s foot is a fungus that thrives in damp, dark areas. It often appears as a rash between the toes or on the bottom of the feet and can burn, itch, peel, or smell. You should keep your feet clean and dry, change your shoes often, and avoid walking barefoot in public places, such as locker rooms. You may want to find breathable socks and shoes to prevent this condition. An over-the-counter treatment can usually get rid of it.
Hammertoes often appear to be bent or crossed. Your second, third, or fourth toes are most likely to be affected. It can cause foot pain and, if left untreated, can require surgery. It’s commonly caused by shoes that are too small and compress the toes. Look for special shoes for people with foot problems to correct hammertoes. Inserts or pads can also be used to attempt to straighten the toes again.
Perhaps the most common foot ailment, whether you’re young or old, is a blister. Blisters appear when there’s too much friction between your skin and your shoe. They can be painful and make it difficult to walk. Don’t try to pop the blister yourself; just use an antibiotic ointment and a bandage and let it pop on its own. The next time you’re in the shoe store, be sure to walk around in a pair before you buy them to make sure they don’t rub your skin uncomfortably. Buying shoes that are too small or too big will almost always lead to blisters.
Bunions are bony lumps at the base of the big toe. They can cause a lot of pain and are often the result of a deformity, injury, arthritis, and narrow shoes. High heels or shoes that are too tight can make bunions worse. You will want to look for inserts, foot pads, or shoes for people with foot problems, such as extra wide shoes.
Yet another problem caused by ill-fitting shoes is a callus or corn. They’re caused by a bony part of the foot rubbing against the shoe and can appear almost anywhere on the foot. Soak, file, and moisturize the callus. If you want to ease the pain or prevent the callus from returning, buy new shoes.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when a ligament is inflamed or torn in the foot. It is very common in athletes and can happen from overuse. It’s imperative to find the right kind of running sneakers, stretch the muscle, apply cold compresses, or talk to your doctor if the pain doesn’t subside.
If any of these ailments sound familiar, you may want to first look at your shoes. Ill-fitting shoes are the most common cause of foot ailments. The fix may be as simple as better-fitting shoes.