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Many people don't pay attention to their feet, and sometimes, they ignore even just a little pain they feel when walking. Since they are the closest part of the body to the ground, they can be more at risk of acquiring various foot problems, such as injuries, infections, and inflammations. Common practices, such as running, walking, and even the shoes you wear, could take a toll on them. 

Fortunately, these conditions are often treatable by DIY forms of treatment, but most of them may require you to visit a podiatrist. Besides, seeking professional help ensures you get the right diagnosis and treatment for your condition. 

Here are common foot concerns that may require you to seek professional help:

Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot, also known in medical circles as tinea pedis, is a highly infectious skin infection caused by a fungus. It usually develops in between the toes. This condition appears when your bare feet make contact with fungi found mostly in wet environments, such as swimming pools and public showers. 

Usually, you can acquire this fungus in hot and humid conditions, and wearing warm, damp shoes can cause it to thrive and spread. If left untreated, it can quickly spread to the toenails, hands, feet, scalp, and groin. 

Athlete's foot can be identified by a red and flaky spot on your feet and soles, which regularly cause a stinging sensation. Another common form of the condition appears in the middle of the toes where it’s white because of the excess preservation of moisture. It spreads to the other body parts by scratching and touching those other areas. 

Over-the-counter antifungal medicines, such as gels and ointments, can be a great first step towards treating the infection. If the medication doesn't help and the infection hinders your daily activities, immediately seek professional help. Sometimes, physicians prescribe antibiotics if they diagnose a secondary bacterial infection.

To avoid athlete's foot, you’re advised to wash your feet daily using soap and water, then dry them carefully. Also, wear shower shoes when using public showers. Remember to wear socks to keep your feet dry and prevent the fungi from growing.  

Plantar Fasciitis 

The bottom of the foot contains a prolonged, narrow ligament that acts as a shock absorber and supports the foot arch. 

Plantar fasciitis, which is commonly known for causing pain in the heel, occurs when this ligament becomes inflamed due to stress, strain, or injury. Other causes also include wrong footwear and walking barefoot on hard surfaces. Obese people are also more prone to this foot concern.  

This condition causes pain at the bottom of the heel. The pain is worse in the morning after jumping out of bed and after strenuous activity. 

Some home-based treatment for plantar fasciitis includes applying ice at the heel to reduce inflammation and taking anti-inflammatory medication. Stretching your foot daily, before and after every physical activity, can also help alleviate the pain. 

Your podiatrist may recommend physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, orthotics or surgery. It is also necessary to receive bone spur treatment when you’re experiencing constant pain at the heel joint or loss of motion. 

Bone spur treatment depends on the symptoms of your condition. For example, if you’re experiencing loss of motion at the heel joint, physical therapy can help improve motion and strengthen the surrounding muscles. You can receive bone spur treatment from Eastern Idaho Foot Clinic.  

Bunions

A bunion is a large sore swelling at the side of the big toe or on top of it. This condition appears when the bone of the big toe moves out of place. The bone becomes unstable with time because irregular pressure is applied to it. It becomes more painful, and, in extreme cases, it’ll cause the big toe angle towards the second toe. 

Bunions are caused by unusual foot activity. Sometimes, this is due to inherited foot types, shows, or the way you walk. Tight, narrow, and high-heeled shoes can also be the causative agents. It may also develop due to foot injuries, inflammatory joint illness, congenital deformities, neuromuscular disorder, or even simply by flat feet.

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Women are more prone to acquiring bunions than men because they often wear narrow and high-heeled shoes. 

Over time, bunions advance from small and manageable to huge and uncomfortable. If the bunion causes persistent pain and interferes with your ability to wear your shoe, you should seek professional treatment. 

A podiatrist may recommend custom-made shoe inserts or a splint to straighten the big toe. If the bunion doesn't subside and continues to cause pain, it may be necessary to have surgery to correct it.  

Corns and Calluses

These are regions of stiffened skin on your toes or the soles of your foot. These areas develop to protect your feet from pressure and prevent the blistering of your feet. Even though it protects the feet, it may not be pleasing to the person who has them. 

Corns occur in a bony form, like a toe joint, at the top of your feet and toes. Calluses, on the other hand, are not as deep as corns, but they affect larger areas of thickened skin – usually at the bottom of the feet. They’re both a result of friction against those areas. Over time, they become irritated and need treatment. 

A podiatrist may suggest changing your shoes to make sure they’re properly fitted. You could also be recommended to add padding to your shoes or shaving the calluses and corns off with a surgical blade. Since these are made of dead skin, it’s not really as painful as it sounds.   

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails, which is the most common nail problem, occur when toenails begin to grow into the nail groove and dig deep into the area surrounding them. They can result in a lot of pain and discomfort, irritation, swelling, redness, and even bad odor, in some cases. 

The main cause of ingrown toenails is wearing wrongly-fitted shoes. The pressure from shoes that are too narrow or too tight places extra pressure on the toes. 

Other causes include not trimming the toenails properly, such as cutting them too short or experiencing trauma to the feet due to heavy activity, like running or stubbing your toes. If you have a family history of ingrown toenails, it’ll also increase your risk of having one.  

An infected ingrown toenail can present more trouble if you try DIY treatments; don't remove any part of the ingrown toenail and avoid any form of pedicures. Hence, you should avoid treating an ingrown toenail by yourself. 

Make sure a podiatrist examines your ingrown toenail even if it's not infected. A podiatrist will prescribe medication if the toenail is infected and remove the ingrown part. 

To prevent it, always cut your toenails straight; don't cut them into a rounded shape. You can use a nail file to soften the corners, too. Lastly, avoid shoes with narrow toe boxes.  

Final Thoughts

Taking care of your feet helps you on the move. Everyone is prone to develop feet problems in life. Common problems that can affect your feet include athlete's foot, bunions, corns and calluses, and plantar fasciitis. You might also experience ingrown toenails.  

Some of these conditions can be treated at home, but getting professional help is the safest option when it comes to dealing with your health problems.

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