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Battling Foot Disease

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Just cuz your feet are usually covered up by socks and shoes doesn't mean you should neglect them. In honor of Foot Health Month in March, give your tender toosties a little TLC and find out how to prevent problems that affect them.

Hammertoes

Normally, your toes lay flat against the ground, but if you wear a lot of narrow, pointy-toed shoes, then your toe could "hammer" and curl up until the toenail is almost vertical - ouch. There are two types of hammertoes. A flexible hammertoe can be straightened out with your finger, but they can turn rigid over time. A rigid hammertoe is very painful and can't be moved with your finger, so you may have to get surgery to fix the problem.

Bunions

You can get bunions from slouching or wearing tight shoes, but the number one reason is heredity - if mom and dad had bunions, chances are you'll get 'em too. A bunion is when your big toe points toward the second toe, causing a big, painful bump on the side of the big toe. They get worse over time and make it really hard to walk. Doctors used to amputate the big toe to get rid of bunions, but that was a long time ago! Now they're treated with warm water foot soaks and surgery to realign the bone. Bunions can also form on the side of the pinky toe. They're called tailor's bunion, but they're pretty rare.


Corns and Calluses

When your skin constantly rubs against your shoe, thickened areas of skin called calluses will form to protect the skin. Over time, they can turn into corns, which come in two types. Hard corns are the more common of the two. They're caused by toe deformities and tight shoes, and usually develop on the tops and tips of the toes. Soft corns grow between the toes and are sometimes called "kissing corns." If you have corns, then start wearing wider shoes to give your toes more room to breathe.


Plantar Warts

Warts aren't caused by touching frogs like you may have heard! They're a viral infection that's spread in places like public pools and locker rooms. The virus enters through tiny cuts or cracks in the skin and grow into rough, spongey and extremely painful warts on the heel or soles of the feet. Sometimes warts disappear on their own, but doctors usually have to freeze or vaporize the wart to remove it. Don't ever try to scrape it off cuz it'll bleed. The best precaution against plantar warts is to avoid walking barefoot in public places.


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