7 Common Foot Problems

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Mary Elizabeth Dallas on November 11, 2020
  • feet-on-hammock
    Keep Your Feet Healthy
    Feet do an important job, but they’re often overlooked. The shoes you wear, the activities you do and how you walk can take a toll on your feet. Certain health problems can affect your feet too. You might have foot pain, swelling, itching or other issues. These conditions are often treatable, so don’t ignore them. Taking care of your feet can keep you on the move. Being aware of these seven common problems is the first step.
  • Tinia pedis or Athlete's foot
    1. Athlete’s Foot
    Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection. Shoes, showers, and sweaty socks help create the warm, humid environment that can lead to this condition. Athlete’s foot usually develops between the toes. It can also spread to the bottom of the feet and toenails. It can even spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms include itching, burning, scaling and blisters. Antifungal medicines treat athlete’s foot. It's also important to keep feet clean and dry to prevent the fungus from growing.
  • Orthopaedist at work
    2. Bunions
    A bunion is a swollen, sore bump on the joint between the big toe and foot. As it gets bigger and sticks out more, it can become very painful. In extreme cases, the big toe angles in toward the second toe. This pressure can force other toes out of alignment. Wearing tight, narrow or high-heeled shoes can cause bunions. To deal with them, put protective pads inside wide, low-heeled shoes. Sometimes surgery is necessary to remove the bunion and correct the alignment of the big toe.
  • Hammer toe
    3. Claw Toe and Hammer Toe
    These foot problems occur when toe joints don't bend like they should. This causes one or more toes to curl over or bend down toward the floor. Diseases like diabetes that cause nerve damage can lead to claw toe. Most often, tight shoes are to blame for both claw and hammer toes. These deformities can become permanent. Avoid narrow, high-heeled shoes. A splint or tape can also help keep toes in the right position. Severe cases might require surgery.
  • Diabetes
    4. Corns and Calluses
    Corns and calluses are thick, rough and raised patches of dead skin. Corns develop on the top of the feet or toes. Calluses develop on the bottom of the feet. These spots form to protect the foot from constant friction. Tight shoes can make the bones in the foot rub the skin. Soaking can help soften these areas. A doctor can shave away the dead skin. Cortisone injections or surgery may help for stubborn corns and calluses.
  • Podiatry Treatment
    5. Ingrown Toenail
    An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail grows into the skin on the side of the toe. Cutting toenails too short can cause this. So can wearing shoes that are too tight. Ingrown toenails can become swollen, sore and infected. Soak the foot in warm water a few times a day. Wear comfortable shoes and don't trim toenails too short. A good rule is to trim your nails straight across, just shy of the top edge of your toe, and don’t round off the edges. If the problem doesn't get better, a doctor can surgically remove the ingrown toenail.
  • bottom of feet
    6. Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs
    The bottom of the foot contains a long, thin ligament. It acts as a shock absorber. It also supports the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs when this ligament gets irritated and inflamed. You may feel heel pain. A bone spur, or growth, can also form where the ligament meets the heel. Regular running or high-impact activities can lead to plantar fasciitis. Obesity can also be a cause. Stretching calf muscles may help ease the pain. Also try rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. Surgical treatment may be an option for you when rest, stretching and ibuprofen don’t provide long-term relief.
  • Woman Resting Her Feet
    7. Blisters
    New shoes or shoes that don't fit right can rub against your skin. This can strip away the top layer of skin. A blister is the cushion of fluid that forms in response to the irritation. Blisters usually develop on the back of the heel, sides of the feet, or top of the toes. Treat them with an antibiotic ointment and a bandage. Wearing socks or different shoes can reduce friction and prevent new blisters.
7 Common Foot Problems
  1. Bunions. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00155 
  2. Claw Toe. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.  http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00156
  3. Corns. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00153
  4. Hammer Toe. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00160
  5. Ingrown Toenails. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00154
  6. Heidelbaugh JJ and Hobart L. Management of the Ingrown Toenail. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Feb 15;79(4):303-308
  7. Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00149
  8. What is Athlete's Foot? American Podiatric Medical Association. http://www.apma.org/Learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=978
  9. Heel Pain. American Podiatric Medical Association. http://www.apma.org/Learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=985
  10. On Sound Footing: The Health of Your Feet. U.S. National Institutes of Health. http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/May2013/Feature2
  11. Corns and Calluses. American Podiatric Medical Association. http://www.apma.org/Learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=1346
  12. Blisters. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/Symptom-Checker/IFrame/Pages/Blisters.aspx
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Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 11
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.