April 21, 2009

Types of Foot Diseases

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Foot Diseases – An Overview

Foot diseases are varied. They may be caused by fungal, bacterial or viral infections, dry skin, friction between the foot and footwear, ingrown toenails and other conditions affecting the joints and tendons of the foot.

Fungal and bacterial infections such as athlete’s foot are commonly caused by the foot being covered for long periods. Wearing socks and shoes provides for a dark, humid environment, making it the ideal breeding ground for fungi and bacteria. Fungal and bacterial infections can cause dry skin, foot blisters, itching and peeling of the skin which can prove to be very resistant to treatment if not done in the early stages. To prevent such types of infections one needs to keep the feet clean and dry, especially in the region of the toes. To this end one should change socks, stockings and shoes periodically rather than wear them continuously. Powdering your feet prior to wearing socks and stockings will also help to keep the area free of moisture.

Another common problem faced by many people is dry skin, which may lead to itchy feet and in severe cases, a burning sensation. Use a mild soap while bathing. Applying moisturizing cream or lotion on the feet after a bath can help alleviate the symptoms. Keeping your body well hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of water is also essential for people with dry skin. If you work and live in an air-conditioned environment, installing a humidifier in the room will help prevent your skin from drying up.

Repeated friction and pressure caused when your feet presses against your shoes can lead to the development of corns and calluses. Corns and calluses can be very painful and you should consult your doctor before trying over-the-counter remedies to remove them. These remedies contain acids that burn the skin around the corn and destroy the tissue. They do not treat the cause of the problem and may lead to complications, especially if you suffer from diabetes or poor circulation.

Viral infections may lead to the development of skin growths, otherwise known as warts. Warts can at times be painful and have a tendency to spread to other areas which is why it is better to consult a doctor before attempting to remove them using home remedies. You doctor may treat the warts using medications or by freezing or cauterizing the warts. In some cases surgery may be the preferred method of removal.

Another common viral infection is hand, foot and mouth disease. This illness usually affects infants and children under the age of 5 years. It must not be confused with foot and mouth or hoof and mouth disease which affects sheep, swine, and cattle. Symptoms of this disease include fever, blisters and sores in the mouth and rashes on the skin. It is caused by viruses belonging to the Enterovirus genus and includes polioviruses, echoviruses, enteroviruses and coxsackieviruses.

Another condition which affects the structure of the foot includes bunions. This is a disorder that occurs when the joints in the big toe get misaligned. This leads to inflammation in the joints making them tender and very painful. The condition is said to be hereditary and runs in families. Treatment options include wearing pads to cushion the bunion, wearing special shoes and taping the foot. These will only work in the milder cases. Severe cases may require the use of painkillers, physical therapy, orthotic devices, shoe inserts and in extreme cases, surgery to repair the toe joint.

Other conditions that affect the structure of the foot include hammertoe, caused by a shortening of the tendons that regulate toe movements. Spurs are caused by calcium growths on the bones of the feet and may require surgery.