From the painful to the pretty gross, Chris Adigun, MD, a dermatologist at New York University Medical Center, talks about your most annoying (and common) foot problems. Understand what you have, how you got it, and how to fix it fast.
What it is:
Thick, hardened dead skin on or between your toes. Cause: Too-tight shoes. When there’s pressure on the toe bones, the skin proliferates there to try to protect them.Treatment: If drugstore corn removers don’t dissolve the skin, ask your doctor about having a procedure to remove them.Prevention: Wear shoes with a wider toe box.
An infection that begins as a white or yellow spot, then causes crumbling. Cause: Fungus getting into the nail.Treatment: These can be tough to shake; you’ll need to take prescription oral antifungal meds for at least 12 weeks.Prevention: You can still go for pedis at the salon—just don’t let anyone cut your cuticles, to avoid exposing the nail bed to fungus.
A fungus that looks like a red rash on your soles or between your toes. Cause: Going barefoot in damp environments, such as locker rooms, or walking around with sweaty feet.Treatment: If an OTC lotion or cream doesn’t work after a week or two, see a dermatologist for stronger relief, or to rule out another issue.Prevention: Keep your feet as clean and dry as possible.
Small, hard, fleshy growths on your soles. Cause: A strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV). (Don’t worry—it’s not dangerous.)Treatment: Most warts disappear on their own in several years, but if the warts keep coming back, your doctor can freeze them off with liquid nitrogen.Prevention: Although warts aren’t highly contagious, they can be spread through cracks in the skin—so avoid going barefoot in public places.
The side of your toenail painfully growing into your toe. Cause: Often, there’s no specific reason at all, though clipping your nails too short or wearing too-tight shoes can be triggers.Treatment: Wrap a strip of medical tape around the toe to pull the flesh away from the nail. But if you notice pus or redness, or are in pain, see a doctor. Prevention: Keep your nails short—but not too short.