Everyday Foot Problems


Feet are like snowflakes: No two are the same -- even those on the same body. Your two feet may actually be different shoe sizes! And even if they're evenly matched, they'll be different sizes and different shapes at different times in your life, including as your body changes through growth, pregnancy (for women), disease or disability, and aging. Because of these natural irregularities and the changes that every person encounters during life, there are several everyday foot problems that often occur.

Uncomfortable footwear can cause or contribute to many everyday foot problems.
Uncomfortable footwear may be a factor behind many everyday foot problems.
See more pictures of foot problems.

Many foot problems are hereditary, including bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, gout, even ingrown toenails. And, although greatly influenced by calcium intake, exercise, and hormonal changes, bone strength is partly hereditary. It's also influenced by racial factors. Asians, for example, have less bone mass than whites, and whites have less bone mass than blacks; the greater your bone mass, the less likely you are to develop arthritis or the brittle bones of osteoporosis.

One recent study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that during puberty -- when hormonal changes spur bone developments -- the bone density of black girls increases three times more than that of white girls. And when the U.S. Public Health Service conducted a national survey in 1990, it found that blacks experienced 20 percent fewer foot problems overall than whites, although blacks are more likely to suffer from corns, calluses, and flat feet.

Nationality can also influence foot structure: Many Mediterranean people, for instance, have particularly low arches, while many Northern Europeans tend to have high ones. Finally, in some ethnic communities, cultural standards play a role, because they determine what is considered attractive. Members suffer pain from wearing uncomfortable shoes that are simply de rigueur in their cultural world.

One of your best precautions against foot pain is to be aware of both the hereditary factors (which you can't change) and the lifestyle and life-stage factors (which you can change or, at least, influence) that determine whether your feet are healthy or hurting.

This article offers easy and helpful suggestions for treating many of the more common foot conditions people experience. However, there are certain foot problems that are so serious, you should seek a doctor's care immediately. Likewise, certain people should never attempt to self-treat a foot problem. For example, If you have diabetes or circulatory problems, if you are pregnant, if you have recently had surgery, or if you are under the continuing care of a physician for another reason, you should discuss your foot problem, and the best way to go about treating it, with your doctor before attempting self-treatment.

Continue to the next page to get tips on treating calluses -- a foot condition almost everyone experiences at one time or another.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Treat Calluses

Calluses on the feet are a common occurrence, but fortunately, it is not difficult to learn how to treat calluses on your own. A callus is an area where dead skin has accumulated to form a thick, protective patch. Calluses develop on parts of your skin that are exposed to an unusual amount of pressure or friction on a regular basis and therefore need to be tougher than the rest of your skin.

Calluses on the feet are common in people who walk around barefoot outdoors, wear shoes that pinch (in which case the calluses develop on the outside of the big and little toes), or wear open-backed shoes (calluses develop under and around the heel). Some calluses on the balls of the feet are caused by shoes that are too loose: The callus develops when the foot consistently rides forward inside the shoe with each step. Other calluses develop on the balls of the feet or just behind the toes because the foot has a low or high arch.

Calluses can begin to hurt if they become too thick. If you have a callus that hurts, try padding your shoe in the spot where the callus touches it with a callus pad or moleskin, which is available in most drugstores. Another solution is to use custom-made orthotics (insoles) that will not only relieve the pressure on the painful callus but also redistribute the abnormal forces causing the callus. Ask your doctor about these.

You can also try soaking your foot in warm water for about 20 minutes, then scrubbing the calloused area with a brush and applying softening cream; do this at least twice a week. (See the page of this article on Dry Skin and Foot Pain for some special foot-softening recipes.) Do not, however, try to cut off a callus.

In some situations, a callus is caused by something other than the usual wear and tear on your feet. Intractable plantar keratosis is very deep callus material that develops under the ball of the foot due to a problem with the metatarsal (foot) bone. This condition can be very painful. Treatment usually consists of padding, custom-made insoles, and sometimes surgery to realign the metatarsal bone.

Another common foot problem that can be caused by shoes are corns. Continue to the next page to learn about alleviating those.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Treat Corns

Another common everyday foot problem is corns, and these also are relatively easy to treat. Corns are bumps that actually look like kernels of corn, and like calluses, corns develop because of friction and pressure.

Corns, however, appear only on or between toes. They develop when toes don't coexist comfortably -- either because the toes are not shaped correctly or, most commonly, because they're jammed into shoes that don't fit properly.

Corns cause pain not only on the surface of the foot, where the top of the corn rubs against a shoe, for instance, but also inside the toe, where the root of the corn exerts pressure on sensitive nerves. What's worse, the more friction on the corn, and the more pain you experience, the faster the corn will grow. Corns can be "hard" or "soft." Soft corns are found between toes, where the moister environment keeps them softer than the hard corns on the tops of toes.

Permanent correction of extremely painful or chronically inflamed corns is usually achieved only with collagen injections or surgery. With most corns, however, the solution is simply a change in footwear: to shoes with a wider toe box or, when possible, to sandals. Dr. Suzanne Levine, DPM, recommends against using drugstore "corn pads," which contain salicylic acid that can burn not just the dead skin of the corn but also the normal skin around it. This, in turn, can result in inflammation and/or infection. The other treatments mentioned here are likely to be effective against corns without risking such damage to healthy skin.

If a corn hurts by itself, even when it's not being bothered by shoes, it's likely that you've also developed bursitis, an inflammation of the area around a joint. For temporary relief -- while you're looking for those new shoes -- try soaking your feet in a solution of warm water and Epsom salts for 20 minutes, and then applying moisturizing cream to the offending area (if you have circulatory problems or are diabetic, however, consult a doctor first.

Don't try to scrape or cut off a corn yourself. You're likely to simply wound yourself, causing bleeding and increased pain and inviting infection.

Sometimes the problem causing foot pain can be as simple as dry skin. Continue to the next page to find out how to handle this situation.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Dry Skin and Foot Pain

Although it is perhaps not commonly thought of as a painful foot problem, dry skin on your feet can be quite uncomfortable and can actually lead to full-blown foot pain. This article offers some easy ways to soothe the situation.

Some people suffer dry skin all their lives. Others acquire it as they age and the body begins to lose its natural elasticity and moisture. This change affects the feet as well as the rest of the body. In fact, feet are among the body parts most likely to have dry skin. Left untreated, dry skin can crack and become painful. This is especially true for the skin on the backs of the heels (which rubs against shoe heels) and under the toes.

Xeroderma is a mild dry-skin condition that stems from a seasonal decrease in humidity. It most often affects older people (whose skin naturally has less moisture than that of younger people) during the wintertime. Severe dry-skin conditions include eczema and psoriasis, both of which are rashes that are scabby and very itchy and that can show up all over the body, including on the feet. If they occur between toes and cause the skin to crack, they can make walking painful. Chronic dry, cracked skin, especially around the edges of the heel, can even be a warning sign of a thyroid disorder or diabetes.

Take whatever everyday precautions you can to slow this loss of body moisture. For example:

  • Avoid wearing shoes without socks or wearing backless shoes, both of which can cause or worsen dry skin.

  • Use a humidifier in your home.

  • Shower in lukewarm or cool, not hot, water. If you prefer baths, use bath oil, but use caution when getting in or out of the tub.

  • Don't bathe too frequently (no more than once a day), because over-cleaning the skin robs it of some of its natural moisture.

  • Avoid harsh deodorant soaps.

  • Soak your feet in water for about 20 minutes; apply moisturizer.

  • If you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, or another more serious skin condition, see a doctor about what ointments might work best for you.

Soothing Solutions

To soften skin, try this special recipe once a week:

1. Crush six aspirin tablets and mix them with a tablespoon each of water and lemon juice to make a paste.

2. Apply the paste to callused spots and dry skin on both feet.

3. Place each foot in a plastic bag; wrap a warm towel around each.

4. Sit with your feet wrapped and elevated for 10 minutes.

5. Remove the towels and bags, and scrub any rough, dry spots with a pumice stone. At this point, the dead skin should be soft and loose enough to come off.

You can also use moisturizing cream, rather than aspirin paste, in a different version of this routine. Apply the cream right before you go to bed, and then cover your feet with plastic wrap. Sleep with your feet elevated on a pillow, and don't remove the wrap until morning. (Be careful not to wrap the plastic so tightly that it restricts circulation.)

Another home recipe for softening dry skin is to soak your feet in a very diluted solution of water and chamomile tea. Afterward, wash your feet with soap and water to remove the tea stains. Then, apply moisturizer.

Of course, any kind of footbath will help to soften dry skin. Just be sure to apply moisturizer immediately after soaking. A towel wrap can help fight dry skin and relax tired muscles, too. Just wrap each foot in a dry towel, then wrap a towel that has been soaked in hot water around the dry towel. Add two or three layers, alternating dry towels with wet, hot towels; finish with a dry towel. Keep the towels on for 20 minutes. Then, apply moisturizer.

Bunions are a common foot problem found within the foot, rather than on the surface. You may not be able to get rid of bunions, but the next page offers some suggestions for reducing pain.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Treat Bunions

A more serious sort of everyday foot problem is bunions, which are formed inside the foot, rather than on the surface. A bunion is frequently a form of arthritis, or bone degeneration. It usually takes the form of a bony bump on the outside of your big toe, although bunions can sometimes appear on the top of the big toe joint or even on the little toe (often called a "bunionette").

More than four million Americans have bunions. Most bunions are painful because they're accompanied by bursitis and/or because they're so prominent that there's no way to avoid bumping and rubbing them. A bunion may also force your big toe to point inward and rub against the next toe, eventually causing the second toe to become a hammertoe.

A common myth about bunions is that they're caused by wearing high heels or other shoes that exert pressure on the outside of your big toe. While ill-fitting shoes can certainly make bunions worse, bunions are mostly hereditary. If your parents have bunions, you stand a good chance of having them, too. Bunions tend to come in pairs. In other words, if you have a bunion on your left foot, you'll probably also have one on your right foot.

The best immediate treatments for bunion discomfort include the following:

  • Apply ice to the area several times a day.

  • Soak the affected foot, or feet, in a mixture of one cup vinegar to one gallon warm water.

  • Pad the insides of shoes with moleskin or foam rubber cut into a doughnut shape (the hole is for the bunion).

  • Switch to shoes with a bigger toe box, or, best of all, wear sandals that leave the bunion area exposed.

In the early stages of bunion pain, a doctor may prescribe orthotics (insoles) and exercises that may stabilize the foot and prevent further development of bunions. For continuing pain, however, you may need bunion surgery, which can often be performed on an outpatient basis.

Bunions are also troubling because they can lead to other foot problems, including hammertoe. Learn more about hammertoe and its treatments on the next page.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Treat Hammertoe

Another of the internally developing foot problems, hammertoes are twisted toes that resemble a bird's claw. Hammertoes tend to be hereditary, although they can sometimes occur as the result of an injury to the toe, to neurological trauma (such as a stroke), or to years of wearing extremely tight-fitting shoes. Although hammertoes cannot be "healed" once they form, this article offers tips on how to treat hammertoe to relieve pain.

Hammertoes may form in conjunction with a bunion: A bunion, which appears as a bony bump on the outside of your big toe, may force your big toe inward. This, in turn, forces your second toe, and sometimes even the outer toes, out of shape, thus creating hammertoes. The fifth, or little, toes can become hammertoes if your arches are pronated, or flattened.

Hammertoes hurt when their unusual shape forces them to rub against the inside of a shoe or against the other toes. If the hammertoe is rubbing against the inside of the shoe, a corn may develop on the top of the toe. The best ways to relieve hammertoe discomfort:

  • Choose shoes that have a lot of room above the toes. This extra room will help to accommodate the twisted hammertoe and help prevent the hammertoe from rubbing against the inside of the shoe.

  • Pad the hammertoe. The padding can help protect the hammertoe from excessive friction inside the shoe.

  • Wear open-toed sandals or slippers that won't put pressure on your toes whenever possible.

If your hammertoe is causing continued pain despite the home remedies suggested here, see a podiatrist to discuss the medical options for treating your hammertoe. For more permanent treatment of a very painful hammertoe, surgery -- surgical release of a tight or shortened tendon and/or small-bone removal -- may be advised.

Another painful everyday foot problem is known as a neuroma. Learn about this condition and how to treat it on the next page.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Treat Neuroma

A Morton's neuroma is a benign (noncancerous) tumor that results from the thickening of the sheath, or covering, of a nerve. This condition often occurs in the feet, and the thickening is thought to result from extreme and persistent irritation or a biomechanical abnormality of the foot. Below are some suggestions for how to treat neuroma and make the condition less painful.

Most neuromas develop between the third and fourth toes when nerves in that area are repeatedly pinched by toe joints and/or by shoes that do not fit properly. A neuroma is painful, creating a burning sensation and sometimes numbness in the surrounding toes. To treat these symptoms:

  • Soak the foot in lukewarm water once a day.

  • Choose shoes that have a wider toe box to relieve pressure on the neuroma.

  • Pad the area inside your shoes that corresponds to the site of the neuroma.

A doctor may be able to relieve neuroma pain for a short period of time by injecting cortisone into the area of the neuroma. Most neuromas, however, must eventually be surgically excised. Otherwise, continued nerve pressure can cause greater and more frequent episodes of pain and numbness.

Although foot problems like neuromas are hereditary, others are quite avoidable. Continue to the next page for tips on preventing ingrown toenails, another painful foot condition.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Prevent Ingrown Toenails

An ingrown toenail is one of the most painful foot conditions we often bring on ourselves. Although sometimes ingrown toenails are hereditary, they're most often caused by incorrect nail trimming -- and they become even more painful when they're squeezed by shoes that are too short and tight. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can follow to help prevent ingrown toenails.

The best tip for preventing ingrown toenails is: trim your nails straight across the top -- NOT in a rounded shape. In addition, avoid wearing shoes or socks that squeeze your toes together.

If you do get an ingrown toenail, it may cure itself as the nail grows. In the meantime, you can relieve the pain with the steps that follow. However, if you are diabetic or have poor circulation, seek professional attention.

  • Switch to longer shoes with a bigger toe box.

  • Soak your foot in a solution of one part povidone iodine to one part water once a day for 20 minutes to reduce inflammation.

  • Trim your nails as best you can. Do not try to "dig out" a deeply ingrown nail, however.

  • Apply an antiseptic once a day, preferably after a bath or shower. This is especially important, because one of the greatest dangers of ingrown toenails is the possibility of infection (see the next page for more information on this).

Your nail cuticle can also become sore as a side effect of an ingrown toenail. If this happens to you, you'll experience redness, swelling, and pain around the cuticle. To reduce the discomfort and inflammation and prevent fungal infection, soak your feet in a solution of one part povidone iodine to one part warm water twice a day for about 15 minutes each time, and apply antiseptic after each soak. Keep up this routine until the cuticle is free of pain and back to a normal appearance.

If an ingrown nail is left untreated or is forced too far into the skin by the pressure of shoes, it may not grow out on its own. The only treatment in this situation is to see a doctor, who can numb the toe and remove the offending portion of the nail permanently.

If an ingrown toenail gets worse, it may become infected. Or, injuries to your toes can result in an infection. Learn how to treat this condition on the next page.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Treat an Infected Toenail

Ingrown toenails are an unpleasant source of nail distress, and if left untreated, they may progress to an infected toenail. Even if your toenails are in excellent condition, a toenail may become painful due to injury: You've dropped something on it or you've bruised it by stubbing it or banging it repeatedly against the too-tight toe box of your running shoe.

In other cases, nails become weak because of poor nutrition (generally, a vitamin C deficiency) or other factors. But whatever the cause of your toenail discomfort, the following information about toenail conditions and suggestions for how to treat an infected toenail should help.

Nail discoloration -- a "blackened toenail" -- happens when blood accumulates underneath a nail. Usually the discoloration will go away by itself, although sometimes you may feel pain when the tender toenail pushes against your shoe as you walk. If so, place a bandage or piece of tape around the nail to cushion it while it recovers.

If your nail doesn't heal by itself, see a doctor, who can numb the toe and drill a small hole in the nail to let the pooled-up blood out. Discoloration may also be due to aging or to years of wearing nail polish. This problem can be solved with bleaching agents available from a podiatrist.

If you have naturally brittle nails, which are more easily injured, rub lanolin or petroleum jelly on them every day. If you've jarred a nail and it seems loose or the top appears disconnected from the skin around it, place a bandage across the nail and secure it all the way around the toe. Change the bandage frequently but keep the nail covered this way for a few weeks, while the injured part has a chance to grow out and be replaced by strong nail.

Sometimes a bad jolt can cause the nail to separate from the nail bed, and it will loosen at first at the bottom of the nail. This is called onychomadesis. The nail may come completely off. A new nail will grow in, but that can take as long as six months. In the meantime, you must protect the tender toe by covering and padding it to prevent infection and painful contact with shoes.

Another nail infection is onychomycosis, a fungal infection also known as ringworm of the nail. It usually begins at the end of the nail, although the whole nail gradually turns black or brown and becomes thin and flaky. This infection is very hard to treat; some cases can take as long as a year or two to get under control. If you develop ringworm, see a doctor. He or she will probably trim your nails very short, try to remove as much of the fungus as possible, and prescribe an antifungal agent such as potassium hydroxide or Whitfield's ointment to be applied to the affected nail.

Then there's onychauxis, a condition common in older people in which the nail has grown extremely thick and has become uncuttable. If this happens to your nail or to the nail of an older person under your care, don't try to cut it yourself; instead, let a doctor file down the nail with a special drill or remove the nail under anesthesia.

Some disorders of the nail are side effects of other health problems. For example, infections such as syphilis and tuberculosis affect many body systems, including the nails. Arthritis can produce ridges in your nails. Certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis, can loosen nails and make them brittle.

There are several prescription and over-the-counter products on the market specifically for the treatment of toenail infections and other nail troubles. But most nail problems can be avoided if you follow a simple routine for nail health:

Trim your toenails straight across the top rather than trying to round them out; if rough areas remain, gently file them smooth.

Wear shoes that don't put pressure on the tops or sides of your toes. That means choosing shoes with a toe box that is long enough to accommodate your longest toe, wide enough to keep your toes from being squeezed together, and high enough to allow you to wiggle your toes while your feet are in the shoes.

Make sure that you eat enough foods that are rich in vitamin C, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges and orange juice, and strawberries.

WARNING: If you have a blackened toenail that does not appear to be healing on its own or that is very uncomfortable, see a podiatrist.

Warts found on the foot are another commonly experienced problem. Find out how to avoid them -- and how to treat them -- in the next section.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Treat Foot Warts

Foot warts are not always painful, but they are usually annoying. Fortunately, learning how to treat foot warts is not difficult.

Warts are actually benign (noncancerous) tumors. When they occur on the soles of the feet, they are called "plantar warts." Warts are caused by a virus that enters the foot through a cut or crack in the skin. Many warts disappear as mysteriously as they arrived, but not all warts go away on their own. Some can become painful, especially if they are in an area that receives a lot of pressure.

One of the most important elements of treating warts at home is keeping your feet dry. To accomplish this:

  • Dry your feet, including the area between your toes, thoroughly after bathing or showering.

  • Use over-the-counter foot powder. Sprinkle it onto your feet and into your shoes to absorb moisture.

  • Wear absorbent socks. If you find that your feet sweat a great deal, change your socks during the course of the day.

  • Wear shoes with uppers made of a porous material, such as leather, that allows air to reach your feet.

  • Soak your feet in a tub of warm water that is highly saturated with salt.

Commercial treatments for warts include salicylic acid pads, ointments, and solutions. People who have diabetes or other circulatory, immunological, or neurological disorders should not self treat. And over-the-counter treatments should never be used in the presence of an active infection.

If you do use a commercial product, follow the package directions very carefully to avoid burning the surrounding healthy skin. To help protect the surrounding skin when using an ointment or solution, apply petroleum jelly in a ring around the wart or use a doughnut-shaped pad cut to fit around the wart before applying the medication.

Never attempt to cut off a wart. A podiatric doctor may prescribe and supervise the use of wart-removal products. However, a doctor is more likely to remove them using a laser treatment (CO2 laser cautery). A local anesthetic is used to numb the area first. Using a laser reduces post-treatment scarring and is a safe form of eliminating wart lesions, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association.

To help prevent warts, avoid walking barefoot on surfaces where contamination may be lurking, such as public shower stalls; wear thongs (flip-flops) in such situations.

Another painful foot condition involves a swelling of the protective sacs around the joints of your feet. Discover what causes bursitis -- and how to relieve the pain that results -- in the next section.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Treat Bursitis

Bursitis is a painful condition that results when a bursa -- fluid-filled sacs positioned around your joints to protect them -- becomes inflamed.

While bursitis in the feet can be provoked by wearing ill-fitting shoes, a bursa often becomes swollen and inflamed as the side effect of a corn, heel spur, or bunion. You may need a doctor's assistance to completely resolve the situation, but these suggestions on how to treat bursitis may help relieve some of your pain.

You can use a simple finger-press test to determine whether you may be suffering from bursitis. (Of course, it's not proof positive; only your doctor can tell for sure if you have bursitis.) If an area of your foot is tender, press down on it. If the skin turns white when you press and then turns red when you release the pressure, you may have bursitis. Warmth is another symptom of inflammation.

To help relieve bursitis discomfort:

  • Soak your feet in warm (not hot) water and Epsom salts once a day for 20 minutes.

  • Apply ice packs for the same amount of time to reduce swelling around the affected joint.

  • Pad the area.

  • Wear well-cushioned shoes that fit your feet properly.

If pain persists, see a doctor, who may take an X ray to determine the cause of your continuing foot pain.

Bone spurs are another painful foot condition, and, in fact, bursitis may be a side effect of this root problem. Learn more on the next page.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

How to Treat Bone Spurs

Like a bunion or a hammertoe, a bone spur is generally not a preventable foot problem. All you can do about it -- short of having corrective surgery -- is try to cope with it and use the tips on how to treat bone spurs that you'll find in this article to help alleviate the pain.

A spur is a calcium growth on a bone that exerts pressure on the surrounding tissue and on the skin beyond the tissue. As exotic and awful as the idea of growing a "spur" seems, it's not uncommon: Each year, it happens to about one million Americans. Spurs can grow on various bones in the foot (as well as other bones in the body), but the kind that's most often associated with pain is the heel spur. Because the weight of your whole body presses down on your heel, any pain in that area is intensified and calls for relief.

While they can develop in anybody, heel spurs hurt most in heavier people (including pregnant women) and in athletes who repeatedly land hard on their heels in running or jumping. The best temporary remedy, especially if bursitis has also developed around the spur, is to keep from exerting continued pressure on it. Stay off the foot and keep it out of shoes as much as you can.

Other helpful treatments include applying ice packs to the area and using an over-the-counter painkiller, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. When you must wear shoes and walk around, put a foam or felt heel pad (U-shaped in the case of a heel spur) inside your shoe.

A doctor may prescribe weight loss, special physiotherapy, injections, orthotics, or anti-inflammatory medication; sometimes a walking cast is also recommended when there is severe pain. You may also ask your doctor about stretching exercises you can do that will alleviate the pain. However, if your bone spur doesn't respond to any treatment or gets worse -- if the calcium buildup continues or if there is bleeding inside the foot -- you may eventually need surgery.

Hopefully the foot problems you are experiencing can be alleviated or avoided by following the hints and home remedies provided in this article. If your condition is severe, or if you are diabetic or have poor circulation, please do consult a doctor about your situation.

To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:

  • Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
  • How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.
Suzanne M. Levine, DPM, was a contributing writer to this article.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.