We need our feet to get us from A to B, but as with all aspects of our body, they need looking after to keep them in good health.
Here we look at some of the most common foot conditions, and what can be done to both prevent and cure these ailments.
Contrary to the origins of its name, athlete’s foot isn’t just a condition sports people suffer from. It’s a common fungal infection which thrives in warm damp environments and is usually contracted through contaminated surfaces (showers, swimming pools and changing rooms are hotspots) or coming into contact with someone who has athlete’s foot.1
The usual symptoms of athlete’s foot include an itching between your toes or on the soles of your feet, a cracking or peeling of the skin, and or itchy blisters on your feet. Other symptoms are discoloured and ‘crumbly’ toenails, as well as toenails which pull away from the nail bed.
The key to preventing athlete’s foot is to keep your toes clean and dry. Dabbing, rather than rubbing, your feet dry after showering, taking your shoes off when you’re at home and wearing clean socks every day are easy ways to help combat the issue. If you do contract the condition, there are over-the-counter sprays and creams which can help to heal it.2
Also known as plantar warts, verrucas are small lumps on the sole of your feet which most people experience at some point in their life. The verruca is caused by an infection called the human papilloma virus (HPV) making the outer skin of the skin overgrow and become rough.3
Although verrucas can heal themselves over time - this may take weeks, months or longer - so treatments are available, to speed up the healing. The most common way to treat verrucas is by freezing the skin cells, through a procedure known as cryotherapy which can be conducted by a GP.4 You can also buy over-the-counter treatments such as creams, sprays and plasters to treat the verruca.
Fungal nail infection
Similar to athlete’s foot, fungal nail infections thrive in warm, moist environments. This condition grows in, under or on the toenail, usually starting on the edge of the nail causing it to become brittle and discoloured.5
To help cure the infection, pharmacists can recommend creams and varnishes, or your GP may prescribe you with a course of antibiotics – it’s worth noting that both approaches do take time to help combat the issue. The tips for avoiding fungal nail infections are similar to those associated with athlete’s foot, however antifungal sprays and powders are available to help prevent the growth of the condition.
Corns and calluses
Often in response to friction and pressure being placed on your feet; corns and calluses are hard, painful areas of the skin.6 These conditions are most common in those who stand for long periods of the day, have poorly fitted shoes or sweaty feet.
Wearing thick socks and well fitting shoes can help reduce the risk of corns and calluses, as can heel pads and insoles. However, visiting a foot specialist may be the best option to help treat the condition, through either offering tailor-made pads and insoles or removing the troublesome skin.7
Getting the right help for your feet
To keep your feet healthy and happy, you can seek professional help to cure or treat foot ailments.
Podiatrists and chiropodists are health care professionals who are trained in all-things feet, diagnosing and treating a host of abnormalities and conditions. They can help correct and prevent potential deformities and help keep people on their feet.
With a cash plan from Sovereign Health Care, you can claim money back towards your health care costs including treatment by a qualified and registered chiropodist or podiatrist. Click here for more details.
1 – Healthline https://www.healthline.com/health/athletes-foot
3 – British Skin Foundation https://www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/plantar-warts-verrucas
6 – Medical News Today https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172459.php