It’s true, the warmest time of the year is behind us now. That also means we begin the process of transitioning into the winter. No more beach, shorts, skirts or sun! We long ago evolved to not have so much hair (well at least most of us have) and in order to prepare for the colder months we will slowly start covering ourselves up more and more. From a Podiatric perspective this means two major things; no more open shoes, such as thongs or flip flops (which we generally dislike!) and more closed in footwear (casual shoes and boots).
The area of concern for your feet is surrounding this transition from open shoes into enclosed footwear, and we are going to briefly address some of ailments you may experience due to shoes.
Or Heloma Durum are painful localised areas of hard, compressed skin. In all circumstances they appear on the feet in areas of high pressure or friction (like the balls of your feet or the tops of your toes) and much of their presentation is due to issues with your biomechanics (loading) and are addressed with stretches, strengthening and supporting the feet. But almost equally as responsible for their development are form fitting shoes. In the colder months we typically wear occlusive material in order to keep the cold out and the heat in. Leather (a common shoe material) is an example of this and whether it is high quality or not, it is inherently firm and it doesn’t willingly stretch! When you force your foot into a new pair of leather boots or shoes your toes are getting squished; resulting in increased pressure and friction on the outside of your foot/toes (typically your joints). A lot of the time these are misdiagnosed as a wart (verruca pedis) so it is a good idea to see a Podiatrist to identify it accurately.
Corns (Pt 2.)
Corns don’t just develop on the outside of the foot, they also develop in-between toes! We call these Heloma Molle, or wet corns, and these guys are painful! In this scenario, the corn gets all sweaty and macerated which when combined with the friction of shoes and walking, breaks down the skin. These corns are at risk of ulceration and infection! Much like the hard corn, treatment for the soft corn needs to consider biomechanics and footwear. You will also need to see a Podiatrist to remove these guys as they stick around long after you address the other two factors!
Self explanatory, right? There are a number of factors that influence an ingrown toenail, such as toenail shape, improper cutting technique, acute trauma (to both the nail and the bone underneath it, biomechanical aspects and (you guessed it) improper footwear! As a podiatrist we see a lot of patients come in AFTER seeing their general practitioner for antibiotics, only for it to return in the days after the course is finished. This is because in most cases the CAUSE of the infection has not been addressed and the antibiotics are only addressing the symptoms.
OK, shoes may be the problem. But how can I prevent these things from happening?
On the footwear front, prevention of these painful conditions is quite simple; wear good shoes! For a few pointers see below:
- When buying leather; make sure it is soft! The firmer the material the more chance its going to rub and squeeze your feet.
- Avoid pointed toes; again its going to squeeze your toes and cause rubbing issues and ingrown nails.
- Don’t wear new shoes out without breaking them in around the house.
- Heeled shoes will put more pressure on the front of your foot; avoid them if you want to avoid corns in this area.
If addressing the footwear alone doesn’t solve your issue, then it may have something to do with improper/altered biomechanics. Being a complicated process (that is also specific to an individual) I will not be going into detail about how it can cause your corn!
So there you have it, a short introduction into the world of skin lesions! But on a serious note if you are suffering from any of the aforementioned issues I strongly encourage you seek out the help of a Podiatrist who should help with all of the components of the condition!
Thanks for reading!
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