Health Focus Archive
Low down in the body and low down in most people's priorities, feet are usually ignored until they hurt. Many peope with troublesome feet will visit the pharmacy for advice and fortunately the majority of complaints can be treated over the counter.
Corns and Callouses
The vast majority of foot problems are caused by ill-fitting shoes. In response to the rub of a shoe, the skin of the foot thickens forming, most commonly a corn or callous.
- Form over the bones, most commonly on the upper surface of the toes
- Are hard, round areas often yellow in colour
- Are painful if pressed
- Form between the toes.
- Are white and rubbery in appearance
Treatment of Corns and Callouses
- More extensive patches of toughened skin
- Form most commonly on the ball or heel of the foot
- Appear as a yellow area
- Lead to pain which is often described as burning
Treatment is basically the same for both and consists of removing the pressure, i.e. the ill-fitting shoes. Soaking the feet in warm water and rubbin gently with a pumice stone can soften the skin, whilst padding can also ease and protect.
Corn and callous plassters are often impregnated with salicyclic acid, which softens the hard skin to allow gentle scraping. However, care must be taken to apply them only to the afected area, as it can burn healthy skin. Chiropody knives and blades should not be used.
Blisters generally should not be burst deliberately, as the skin underneath can become infeted. Instead, they should be coered with padding to protet the area. If they burst of their own accord they shuold be cleaned and kept protected from infection with a dry dressing. There are now special blister plastersavailable which cushion and protect the blisters.
Bunions form at the base of the big toe and usually involve an actual deformity of thejint, causing it to stick out at an angle. This area then suffers friction from shoes and a fluid-filled lump may form, which can become infected. Although padding can help, surgery is usually needed to correct bunions and all cses should be referred to the Pharmacist, who will give the sufferer advice on what to do next.
This usually arises when toenails are not cut correctly, but can be aggravated by ill-fitting shoes. A toenail is said to grow inwards when a spinter of nail pierces the skin at the side of the nail. The condition is painful and can easily become infeted. Cases need to be referred to the Chiropodist. In order to prevent toenails from ingrowing, generally nails should be cut straight across the top and not round at the sides. Any rough edges should be gently filed.
Many people, especially the elderly, suffer from dry skin. Cracks in the skin can easily become infected and dry skin is more likely to form corns and callouses. Emollient creams, applied after soaking the feet in warm water, can help to keep the skin moist and prevent additional problems.
Good hygiene is the answer in preventing sweaty feet. The feet should be washed every day and socks and hosiery changed frequently. Absorbent insoles for shoes may also be helpful. Shoes made from synthetic fibres can make feet more sweaty, so it is best to wear natural fibres like leather whenever possible.
There are many products available for the treatment and prevention of sweaty feet. These can contain antiseptic ingredients and aare available as creams, sprays, talcum powders or impregnated in-soles.
Chilblains can occur anywhere on the body, but are most often found on the feet. They are caused by poor circulation and the cold, and can be made worse by tight-fitting shoes or hosiery. The area of a chilblain is purple-red, sore and itchy.
Some people get relief from warming creams that can be rubbed on the skin. Tablets are no longer recommended for over the counter sale and anyone wanting them must be referred to the doctor. Prevention is better than cure and people should be advised not to wear restrictive footwear or allow feet to get too cold. If feet do get cold they should be warmed slowly as fast warming makes chilblains worse.
A verruca is a wart on the foot and is caused by a virus, which gets into the skin via a break in it. The rogh floors in changing rooms are often where the virruca virus is picked up.
A verruca forms a rough area of skin, often with black dots in the centre. These are not a 'root' or 'core' that needs to be removed but are dead blood vessels caused by the virus. Verrucas can be painful, especially on walking and when squeezed. Sometimes verrucas form singularly and other times in groups called mosaic verrucas.
Verrucas will usually go of their own accord, but this can take anything from 6-12 months. As we get older, we become immune to verrucas, which is why they are most common in children.
Treatment of Verrucas
In some cases, especially young children, the best course of action is to pad the area and leave it, because treatment can be lengthy and painful in itself. If choosing not to treat, care should be taken not to spread the infection further. Many of the liquids, getls and ointments available for treating verrucas contain aslicyclic acid. This can cause damage to the healthy skin around the verruca which must be protected with padding or petroleum jelly. Verruca treatment can take 4-12 weeks to be affective. any verucas which do not go in this time will almsot certainly need to be removed by the Chiropodist. Verrucas should not be attacked using a chiropody knife or razor blade as this can make them worse.