In the first part of this piece, I talked about common foot problems, most of which are related to diabetes mellitus under the broad name called diabetic foot.
A case history in particular which I mentioned in the piece was the story of a middle-aged man who thought and believed his affected leg was due to the charm he stepped on, only for the doctor to discover on routine examination that he actually had a diabetic foot.
Diabetic foot presents with nerve damage numbness, tingling sensation, leg pain, improper alignment, injury and poor circulation (blood flow).
Inadequate blood flow increases the healing time for cuts and sores. When a minor skin bruises or scrape occurs, it can result in ulcers or sores.
Other common foot problems which affect a lot of people with one medical condition or the others are explained below. Some don’t have any underlying medical condition.
Fungal infection of the feet is called athlete’s foot. Cracked skin, itching, and redness are associated with the condition. Fungus enters cracks in the skin, causing an infection that must be treated with anti-fungal medications. Oral medications or topical creams may be used to treat athlete foot
Fungal nail infection
Thick, brittle, yellow-brown, or opaque nails are common with fungal nail infections. The infected area may crumble or seem to pull away from the rest of the nail. Fungus thrives in the warm, moist, dark environment created by wearing close-toe shoes.
Nail injury also increases the risk of fungal nail infection. These infections are difficult, but not impossible, to treat. Oral medications work best to treat fungal nail infections. Sometimes, surgery is necessary to remove infected areas of the nail.
Calluses and corns
Calluses are hard areas of thickened skin that build up on the bottom of the feet. Uneven weight distribution, skin abnormality, or ill-fitting shoes may cause calluses; while a corn is a thickened, button-like area of skin that builds up between the toes or near the bony area of a toe. Pressure and friction cause corns.
Care of calluses and corns include rubbing the area with pumice stone after a shower or bath, Placing cushioned insoles or pads in shoes, or using some medication to soften calluses.
It’s normal to have some calluses. It’s important to never try to cut a callus with sharp object. Doing so can cause serious injury.
A bunion is a sore, red, callused area that forms on the outside of the joint of the big toe. Bunions make the big toe angle inward. They may appear on both feet and tend to run in families.
Wearing high-heeled shoes with inadequate toe room increases the risk of bunions by pushing the big toes into an unnatural position. Covering the bunion with padding or a foam cushion helps protect it. Special toe separators and other devices may be used to keep the toes in proper alignment. If the bunion is very painful or unsightly, surgery may be used to alleviate the symptoms.
Weakened muscles in the toes contribute to the curled appearance known as “hammertoes.” This weakness shortens the tendons in the toes, causing them to contract. Hammertoes can be hereditary.
They can also be caused by wearing shoes that are too small and provide inadequate toe room. Hammertoes can cause foot problems such as calluses, sores, blisters, and difficulty walking.
Corrective footwear and splints can help reposition and treat hammertoes. Sometimes, surgery may be needed to straighten the affected toes.
Ingrown toe nail
Ingrown toe nails derive their name from growing into the skin along the edges of the nail. An ingrown toe nail may cause pain, pressure, and even cut into the skin, leading to an infection.
Wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes increases the risk of ingrown toe nails. High-impact activities such as running and aerobics may contribute to the problem.
Walking, toe crowding and inadequately trimmed toe nails may also cause ingrown toe nails. The best way to prevent ingrown toe nails is to keep the nails trimmed.
Professional medical treatment is necessary if an ingrown toe nail is severe or if there is an infection. Sometimes, surgery is necessary to remove the affected part of the nail and the growth plate from which the nail grows.
In conclusion, watch out for these common foot symptoms or signs which may be a pointer to serious foot disorders: foot or ankle swelling, the appearance of corn, calluses, and ingrown toe nails.
Others are infected toe nails, dry, cracked skin, leg pain, foul-smelling, persistent, or unusual foot odour, ingrown toe nails or toe nails infected with fungus, oozing, open sores that appear to be draining and/or are slow to heal.
Generally, people who have diabetic foot or other foot disorders should have a regular foot exam done by a foot doctor (podiatrist) every three to six months. At each check-up, the doctor will thoroughly examine the feet.