Save our soles: The six most common foot problems – and how to fix them

The average pair of feet has a lot to contend with.

Not only are they tasked with carrying our entire body weight for up to 10,000 steps a day, we squash them into an unhealthy array of sweaty trainers, high heels and flip-flops.

Talk about adding injury to insult.

No wonder figures from the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists show that 80% of UK women suffer problems with their feet, while one in five men suffer foot pain most days.

“Most of these problems are down to wearing the wrong kind of shoes for too long and not taking proper care of your feet.

"They’re pretty straightforward to fix,” says chiropodist Therese Gray, of the ICE clinic in Ampthill, Beds.

Here’s the low-down on the six most common foot problems – and how to beat them...
Corns and calluses
What are they? Thick, hardened layers of skin that develop on bony areas of the feet, particularly over joints. They are caused by badly fitting shoes that rub and can be painful or unsightly.

Prevent it : Avoid shoes that are too tight or have very high heels, which compress areas of your foot, or those that are too loose, as your foot will slide and rub. Remove early signs of hardened skin with a pumice stone.

Treat it : If the corn is very painful it is best to see a chiropodist. They can remove the corns or, in more serious cases, may fit you for orthotic insoles that sit in your shoes and will correct any imbalance in the way you walk.

What are they? Painful bony swellings at the base of the big toe, which can be a result of shoes that cramp the feet. Bunions can run in families.

Treat it : You can buy pads that ease the pressure on the big toe joint, along with specially-made orthotic insoles that help the feet work properly.

In more severe cases, surgery can remove the swollen tissue and part of the bone.

Prevent it : Make sure your shoes don’t squash your toes together – there should be space between the tip of your toes and the end of the shoe.
Avoid heels higher than 2¼ inches for long periods as they tilt the foot forward forcing the toes together.

What are they? Verrucas are warts caused by a viral infection normally found on the soles of the feet or between the toes.

Some can start as a small pink area with a few black dots, which develops into a larger, brown area with hardened skin. But other types can present differently, so the key is to watch out for skin changes.

Treat it : If the verruca doesn’t hurt, it’s best to leave it alone and let your body’s immune system tackle it – or you can try over-the-counter treatments, such as Scholl Freeze Verruca & Wart Remover (£10.49, Boots).
If it is large or painful, a chiropodist can freeze the area to kill the virus.

Prevent it: Verrucas are caught through contact with the virus, which thrives in damp areas such as swimming pools and communal showers, so it pays to always wear flip-flops until you’re in the water.

Athlete’s foot
What is it? A fungal infection that causes sore, itchy patches of skin between the toes, which then crack and flake. It may have an unpleasant smell and toenails can become infected, thickening and
turning brown.

Treat it : Try over-the-counter remedies such as Boots Pharmaceuticals Dual Action Athlete’s Foot Cream (£2.99).
If the toenail is infected, you will need to see a chiropodist so they can file down the nail and prescribe a topical solution to fight the infection.

Prevent it : Change your socks or tights daily, and don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row. Sandals also help as they allow air to circulate between the toes, and always dry between your toes after baths and showers as the fungus thrives on moisture
Fallen arches
What are they? This common complaint happens as the arch of the foot collapses and becomes flat. It can cause painful, achy feet and calves.
Treat it : Treatment involves pain relief and special insoles. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
Prevent it : Avoid high heels for long periods. Because heels cause your tendons to tighten, your ankle can’t bend properly, and so the tendons in your foot arch to try to compensate and can break or

Ingrown toenails
What are they? When growing nails become painfully imbedded in the skin at the sides.

Treat it : Soaking feet in saltwater can prevent infection and reduce swelling. Don’t cut the toenail yourself – see a chiropodist as soon as possible.
If the toes become infected, they may have to remove the nail splinter under local anaesthetic.

Prevent it : Don’t cut your toenails too short – follow the outline of your toe and file away any sharp edges.
And avoid badly-fitting shoes that are either too loose or cramp the toes together.

Shoe tips to take in your stride

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