Top 5 Frightening Foot Conditions
Forget ghouls, zombies and witches! These real life foot conditions are sure to make you cringe. Especially since they can happen to anyone!
Bunions and Bunionettes
Where there is a significant growth of bone on the metatarsophalangeal joints, or the toe joints as we know. A bunion is where the big toe joint is, and a bunionette is on the fifth toe joint.
This can be due to the foot type and mechanics that place more pressure on that area of the foot during walking. It can also be from wearing shoes that are too tight and tapered for the foot. Once the bone has formed, it cannot be removed other than by surgery, which should be a last resort.
Prevention: Orthotics to improve alignment and to provide pressure distribution. Ensure your shoes are not too tight with a round toe box to allow for a bit of wiggle room with the toes. Heels are a big culprit due to the increased pressure on the forefoot and tapered toe box. Make sure the uppers are made from soft leathers or have cloth mesh that will stretch around the bunion area. If there are lots of stitching and decal around that area, it will not stretch and create a hot spot. Search for a forefoot rocker to reduce pressure on the forefoot.
Hammer Toes/Overlapping Toes
Hammer toes are toes that curl up at their joints, which can stiffen over time and create a high pressure spot on the top of the joint or toe tips from rubbing on the shoe. Overlapping toes can typically be seen with bunions, as the big toe starts to deviate towards the smaller toes, and to make space, they start overlapping. This also results in corns or calluses forming on top of the toe joint. The causes are similar to a bunion, where it could be from natural foot mechanics, or from ill-fitting footwear.
Prevention and Treatment: Toe straighteners, toe spacers, hallux valgus night splint to help straighten the toe. This is not guaranteed to straighten the toe out to the original position, but it can help prevent it from worsening. Custom insoles will help to improve pressure distribution and to improve alignment if it is from natural mechanics.
Athlete’s Foot/Nail Fungus
This can be a very frustrating condition as it is hard to get rid of, and to make things worse it is contagious. There are many different fungal infections but the most common is Athlete’s foot, and it can lead to thick, callused, itchy skin and thickened nails.
Prevention and Treatment: Do not walk around barefeet in public areas such as the change room and the pool. Keep feet clean and dry. If you have sweaty feet, wear wool socks instead of cotton as cotton holds moisture. If it has affected the toe nails, ensure the shoe has a roomy toe box so there are no pressure spots. Discuss fungal wash or medication with your doctor.
Plantar Verrucas (a.k.a Warts)
Not to be confused with corns, warts are caused by viral infection and can be contagious as well. They tend to show with small black dots in the centre, which is the blood supply. Typically they show as skin growths, and can cause irritation and some pain from pressure build up when the person is on their feet. They can also develop in clusters called mosaic warts.
Prevention and Treatment: Same treatments as fungal infections, keeping the area clean and dry. See your doctor for wart treatments such as salicyclic acid and nitrogen, or look into custom orthotics or insoles with a cut out can help to reduce pressure on the warts.
Corns and calluses are hard thickened areas of skin on the foot, which can be caused from high pressure and friction. A corn is typically a small patch of skin with a skin plug in the centre and can cause point pressure when walking on it. They tend to form on toes but can be on the ball of the foot too. A callus is general thickening of a patch of the skin, and can also be quite uncomfortable to walk on when it is fairly thick. Improper gait mechanics may lead to it, or improper fitting shoes which create pressure spots on the foot.
Prevention and Treatment: Custom orthotics or insoles can help to alleviate high pressure points and to improve alignment. Proper fitting footwear is important to ensure that there are no hot spots, and cushioning helps shock absorption. A pedicure or pumice stone can help to reduce and maintain callus build up.