With each stride, the feet support and balance the weight of the body. To cope with this strain, the highest concentration of bone structure in the human body is found in the feet. Made up of 26 small, delicate bones, the foot maintains proper position and elasticity through its 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles. In an average lifespan, a person may walk 115,000 miles, equivalent to walking around the world four times.
In spite of their importance, the feet are one of the most neglected and frequently injured parts of the body. Women suffer four times as many foot problems than men, often due to wearing high-heeled shoes. Foot ailments can sometimes reflect a more serious underlying medical condition, e.g. diabetes, nerve and circulatory problems.
Athlete's Foot. Tinea pedis (alipunga) is a common persistent infection of the foot caused by microscopic fungi that live on dead tissue of the hair, toenails, and outer skin layers. Athlete's foot may be transmitted through contact with a cut or abrasion on the bottom of the foot. It is common in males from the teens to the early 50s.
Persistent itching of the skin on the sole of the foot or between the toes, usually the fourth and fifth toes
The skin grows soft and the center of the infection becomes inflamed and sensitive to the touch
The edges of the infected area become milky white and the skin begins to peel
A slight watery discharge also may be present.
Blisters. A small fluid-filled sac that forms between layers of the skin. They can vary greatly in size depending on the cause and the location. They can be filled with a clear fluid or with blood giving them a red appearance. They form as a result of heat, moisture, friction, fungal infections of the skin, allergic reactions or burns.
Bunion. Medically known as Hallux valgus, is a bony protrusion around the joint at the base of the big toe. This results in pain and joint degeneration.
Swelling and enlargement of the joint at the base and side of the big toe
Thickened skin over the bony protrusion at the base of the great toe
Foot pain and stiffness.
Corns and Calluses. Corn is a thickening (bump) of the outer skin layer, usually over bony areas such as toe joints. A callus is a painless thickening of the skin caused by repeated pressure or irritation. Symptoms include roundish appearance of the thickened skin that feels hard to touch and painful when pressed.
Over-Pronation / Flat feet. A problem that occurs in the walking process when a person's arch collapses upon weight bearing causing extreme stress or inflammation on the plantar fascia, potentially causing severe discomfort and leading to other foot problems. Obesity, pregnancy or repetitive pounding on a hard surface can weaken the arch.
Sweaty Feet / Foot odor. Sweaty feet (hyperhydrosis) and smelly feet (bromohydrosis) are two very common, annoying conditions of the feet. Feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body. They can sweat profusely and not evaporate due to being enclosed in footwear. The bacteria produce isovaleric acid which is what causes the odor.
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