Foot problems are pretty common among Americans. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), about three out of four people in the country suffer from some form of foot problem. What’s worse, about fifty percent have foot issues that even constrain their movement in some way.
Perhaps you are one of the many who often experience foot-related problems, and you wish to address them. Or maybe you want to learn more about different foot health issues so you can avoid them in the first place. Whatever your reason for being interested in this widespread health issue, this short guide will be of help. We will cover the most common concerns involving the feet and how you can manage each one. And since prevention is always better than cure, we have also included basic foot care tips to help you reduce your risk of experiencing these issues.
Foot odor essentially stems from bacterial growth. These microbes normally inhabit the feet as they thrive in dark and damp areas, like the inside of your sweaty shoes. Excessive sweat combined with poor hygiene can cause them to multiply and flourish. And because bacteria produce foul-smelling organic acids and sulfur compounds, the feet tend to become stinky.
If you want to address smelly feet, you need to minimize sweat to prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria. There are several ways you can do this. For starters, you can buy antimicrobial socks for men and women. Ordinary socks merely absorb sweat, which means they can still be a breeding ground for bacteria. Antimicrobial socks, on the other hand, are specially treated with antimicrobial treatment that inhibits bacterial and fungal growth.
You should also adopt good practices to ensure that your feet are clean and dry all the time. Washing your feet regularly, opting for breathable footwear, wearing a fresh pair of socks every day, putting on some foot deodorant, and cleaning and drying the shoes before putting them on are some of these habits that ultimately help prevent foot odor.
An athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that usually affects the areas between the toes and the bottom of the feet. This condition causes itchiness, scaling, blistering, and a burning or stinging sensation, among others. When it’s just a mild case of infection, an athlete’s foot can be treated using over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams, powders, or sprays. However, you may need to visit a doctor to get prescription-strength medication if these antifungal remedies don’t work.
To reduce your risk of contracting athlete’s foot, avoid walking barefoot in moist environments where fungus thrives, such as public pools, showers, and spas. You should also wash your feet, change socks at least once a day, and let your feet get as much air as possible. Moreover, avoid sharing shoes, towels, and linens with other people since this condition is contagious.
Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), plantar warts are painful warts that affect the bottom of the feet. Since HPV loves warm and damp places, most people get these warts from humid communal spaces like public pools, showers, and locker rooms. Plantar warts usually go away naturally. However, if you want to address the issue quickly and keep the infection from spreading, you may want to consider OTC medications, like salicylic acid creams.
You should also change your shoes and socks daily and keep warts covered to contain the issue and to prevent infecting others. If the condition persists, it is best to seek advice from a doctor. Avoid developing plantar warts in the first place by always wearing footwear when using public facilities, such as swimming pools and shower rooms.
Calluses are large patches of rough, thick, and hard skin at the bottom of the feet. They are a common foot problem, especially among people who spend a lot of time on their feet and often wear narrow, tight, or ill-fitting shoes. Essentially, calluses form to protect skin tissues from damage caused by excessive friction.
If you want them to disappear, you can start by getting rid of the source of pressure. This could mean ditching the problematic shoes and wearing more comfortable footwear, or putting on socks or protective padding to reduce friction. Avoid cutting away or scraping the calluses yourself to prevent the risk of injury or causing an infection.
Just like calluses, blisters are primarily caused by friction. These raised skin bumps filled with fluid often appear after long periods of walking or running while wearing ill-fitting shoes. If you develop blisters, try not to pop them on your own. Besides causing pain, doing so could lead to infection. Instead of bursting the blisters, cover them with a clean bandage until they dry up and heal on their own.
If they burst accidentally, you may want to clean the area with soap and water and apply petroleum jelly. Be sure to leave the overlying skin intact, as this will protect the raw skin underneath. You may also want to observe your blisters as they heal. See your doctor if you feel increased pain or notice redness, swelling, or pus.
To prevent blisters from developing, wear socks with your shoes whenever possible. Opt for pairs with a moisture-wicking feature to keep your feet dry. You may also want to apply a lubricant or cream in friction-prone areas of your feet to reduce friction. Most of all, always wear shoes that fit you perfectly.
Hopefully, this short guide has made you realize that many foot health issues can be readily prevented if you adopt foot care habits that go beyond mere foot washing and clipping toenails. Give your feet the extra attention they deserve. And if you experience persistent foot problems, don’t hesitate to see your doctor or a podiatrist for advice.