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Are Foot Calluses a Problem?

Ask anyone and they’ve likely had Foot Calluses.

A callus is a common foot condition involving thickening of the skin. Prolonged rubbing causes calluses, in a similar manner as to how a Blister Forms. This is your body’s defence mechanism to prevent any additional damage to the area.

Runners, soccer players, and those who are barefoot may have calluses on the foot. Tennis players, gymnasts, weight lifters, and manual labourers may have calluses on their hands.

Calluses differ from corns since they’re less defined, and are often found in weight-bearing areas of the body including on your feet. Plus, calluses are often larger than corns, and evenly distributed whereas corns have a well-defined core.

Calluses can be yellow, white, or grey and can be accompanied by dry scaling skin and even fissures.

The question remains: are calluses good or bad?

The Good

Calluses are our body’s natural response to repetitive use to an area of the body.

For runners, calluses can be seen as a badge of honour. Like black toenails, they’re a sign that you’ve been training hard, and are a sort of right of passage.

Often, calluses reduce pain in an area. Think of calluses as a piece of cushion on your feet. For this reason, they’re often called nature’s shoes.

Someone with calluses on their feet can walk across rougher land and be without pain. Tennis players with calluses on their hands may not feel the same type of pain as a first-time user. In these cases, the cushion calluses allow people to go past their normal pain threshold since calluses act as a shield.

Foot Callus

Calluses can also reduce sensitivity. If you’re a trail runner, a callus on your foot may be able to withstand a bit more load and pain than without a callus. And since calluses form in areas of friction, a callus in that spot is even more important, since you’re prone there.

In this sense, calluses can be good.

The Bad

Too much of one thing can be bad.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, painful corns and calluses affect about 5% of people in the United States every year, and many people never seek professional help.

When calluses build up significantly, they can become painful. Especially when calluses are big, they can end up rubbing with your shoe and sock, and even detach from the live skin underneath. Then, painful blisters can form on the open patch. That right there is when the pain starts.

If you find your calluses are highly centralized to one location, that may be an indication of biomechanical deficiency. Generally, calluses cover a larger area and are not localized to one area of the foot.

Seeing a podiatrist can also help determine another factor which may cause calluses: your gait pattern. Custom orthotics may help, and reduce pressure to specific parts of your feet. Plus, a proper shoe-fitting helps you choose the right pair of footwear for your needs.

A pumice stone’s sandpaper-like texture can reduce a callus, but it may not provide enough grit to treat painful calluses. Don’t use anything sharp, like a knife to try to cut the callus away. Consult a medical professional in this case and avoid DIY.

Foot Calluses

According to Harvard Health Publishing, follow these procedures to safely scrub away a callus:

  • Soak your feet in warm water first, to soften the callus
  • Dry your feet, then rub the pumice stone gently over the corn or callus
  • Afterwards, moisturize the area with skin lotion.

In fact, removing a portion of the callus can be done safely. Scrubbing away a portion of the callus can be aesthetically satisfying while maintaining the integrity of the callus. Plus, scrubbing down a callus regularly prevents it from getting too large. A callus that cracks, as a result of being enlarged, is prone to infection.

In this case, calluses may be bad.

Bottom Line

If a callus isn’t painful and isn’t growing in size, they’re fine as is. If they become painful, book an appointment with a podiatrist for next steps, and for proper removal to avoid infection.

Continue reading: How to Manage Foot Calluses.

What is a Bunionette?

Bunions are among the most common sources of foot pain. Bunions are particularly prominent among women, especially those older than 60.

A Bunionette, on the other hand, is less common. When you think about it, a bunionette sounds like a bunion’s younger sibling. And it kind of is.

What Is A Bunionette?

While a bunion is a pronounced bump on the outer edge of the big toe, a bunionette is exactly the opposite. A bunionette is a bump on the outer edge of the little toe.

A bunionette is commonly known as a “tailor’s bunion.” Why? Because tailors used to sit cross-legged. All day. (Apparently, this was done to Tighten Back Muscles so they didn’t wear out as quickly.)

As a result, their feets’ outer edge always made contact with the ground. Over time, the rubbing created a bump on the outside of tailors’ little toes, and further aggravated the foot condition.

And that’s a brief history lesson on a bunionette’s backstory.

The bump may also be a bone spur – a bony outgrowth – caused by osteoarthritis in the fifth metatarsophalangeal joint. The metatarsophalangeal joint is the area between your metatarsal bone (the base of your toe) and your proximal bones (smaller bones close to the head of toe).

Pain associated with a bunionette occurs on the outside of the foot, and tight shoes may exacerbate the condition. Shoes with narrow toe boxes are particularly problematic for those with a bunionette. Narrow toe boxes increase friction against the bony protrusion.

People who have mild to medium cases of bunionettes may experience little to no pain. In these cases, one should take the proper precautions to keep the case mild, and not progress any worse. A mild case of a bunionette may be a small bump on the outer edge of the little toe. A severe case may be that your little toe is overlapping your fourth toe.

Since bunionettes are a progressive condition, they will only get worse over time. This means you cannot reverse what’s already been done.

But, don’t worry, there’s still plenty you can do. In fact, the worsening can be slowed significantly, and it’s absolutely possible to maintain a high quality of life without pain. However, because it’s a progressive condition, the only corrective measure to remove the bunion is surgery.

Causes

According to Harvard Medical, bunions and bunionettes can be heredity, due to arthritis, or misalignment of the foot.

The causes of a bunionette are classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic.

Extrinsic causes include:

  • External pressure on the forefoot
  • Tight shoes

Intrinsic causes include:

  • Genetics
  • Foot anatomy
  • Faulty mechanics

Foot function and foot mechanics can also contribute to the formation of Bunions and bunionettes. For instance, overpronation, which is the turning in of your foot towards your arches as you are walking, can lead to bunions and bunionettes.

Bunion vs. Bunionette: What’s The Difference?

Whereas a bunion is a result of a deformity and shift to the first metatarsal, a shift in the fifth metatarsal bone causes a bunionette.

The bump that you see is the metatarsal shifting in alignment as the toe begins to point inwards. As this happens, the base of the metatarsal bone shifts outwards causing the bump that is so often related to foot pain. Because the little toe is smaller than the big toe, a bunionette is considerably smaller than a bunion.

Treatment And Prevention

Bunion and bunionette treatment is similar. As such, properly-fitting shoes are an essential step. The team here at First Feet Clinic specializes in Shoe Fitting. No appointment is necessary to find a pair of shoes that fit the profile of your feet.

Additionally, stretching your shoe can provide benefits as it artificially provides additional toe room. This allows your bunionette more space in the shoe.

If foot anatomy and pronation appears to be the cause, investing in Custom Foot Orthotics can be beneficial in the long run. If you’re unsure of the root cause, see a foot specialist for a course of action. Additionally, foot specialists can perform a biomechanical assessment to determine whether orthotics are the right approach.

Anti-inflammatories can also help reduce swelling and pain. Furthermore, you can purchase bunionette Splints for relief and to reduce swelling.

As a final resort, and if physical therapy doesn’t work, surgery is an option. Like for a bunion, surgery corrects the joint and bone deformity. This restores the toe to its regular position. Recovery time can be between 6-12 weeks and it’s recommended you explore all other non-invasive options before considering surgery. Note that because the small toe generally absorbs less body weight than your big toe, bunionette surgery recovery time may be less than for a bunion.

Book an appointment with a chiropodist at Feet First Clinic for professional diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

10 Common Foot Conditions And Injuries

Your legs are involved in every aspect of movement. They’re the foundation of your body, and act as shock absorbers. Our reliance on our legs cannot be overstated. It’s crucial we take proper leg and foot pain management to avoid common foot conditions.

Overwhelmingly, there are some common foot conditions that are more prevalent than others. These are either injuries or conditions that a large portion of the population experiences once, or repeatedly. To put you on the right track, we’ve rounded up 10 common foot conditions. Note that these are listed in no particular order.

1.  Bunions

A bunion is perhaps the widest known foot condition. A bunion is an enlargement on the outside of the big toe. The enlargement can be a bony outgrowth, or a shift in your big toe. Often the base of the metatarsal shifts outwards (meaning your toe points inwards), and a bunion results because of the deformity.

You may develop bunions through any of the following reasons:

  • Your foot is shaped in a way that makes you more likely to have bunions
  • Your foot rolls overly inwards when you walk
  • Flat feet
  • Tight footwear

Fortunately, a physical therapy regimen, over-the-counter products, and proper footwear enables you to live with bunions without surgery.

2. Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal skin infection that affects the skin on soles of feet and between toes. The fungi that causes athlete’s foot is commonly found in moist places, like shared showers and locker rooms.

Athlete’s foot typically presents as a translucent white moist skin between the toes on one or both feet. To treat the condition, you can use over-the-counter products including medicated creams, ointments, sprays, and powders.

3. Ingrown Toenails

An Ingrown Toenail occurs when the nail begins to grow into the skin. In many cases, you can treat ingrown toenails yourself. In severe cases, you should consult a doctor.

Typically, wearing tight shoes, cutting your nails too short, or not across, and injuring your toenail can cause an ingrown toenail. Home remedies include soaking your feet in warm water, wearing proper footwear, taking anti-inflammatories, and placing dental floss under the edge of the toenail.

If the ingrown toenail is serious, surgery is performed.

The surgery consists of numbing the toe with a local anaesthetic, then removing the portion of the toenail that is growing into the skin, and finally, applying a chemical to the nail root to prevent regrowth.

4. Black Toenails

Black toenails may be rare to the majority of the population, but are common among runners. The repeated nature of running puts your toenails at risk due to impact and friction. Typically, black toenails result from a blister underneath the toenail. The most common cause is tight footwear, and from undulating terrain as downhill running adds pressure on your toes.

You might also get a black toenail because of trauma to the toe. Occasionally, a black toenail will fall off.

Here’s everything you need to know about black toenails including treatment and prevention.

5. Plantar Fasciitis

Common Foot ConditionsPlantar fasciitis can be a real pain…in the heel.

This foot condition involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects your heel with your toes – the plantar fascia. Plantar fasciitis can cause sharp pain in the heel, especially in the morning.

Runners are especially prone to plantar fasciitis because of the repeated stress to the plantar fascia. Common treatment and preventative measures include self-massage with a golf ball, anti-inflammatories, and if necessary, custom orthotics.

6. Nail Fungus

The toes are particularly susceptible to nail fungus because fungi thrive in dark, moist places. Since many of us wear shoes for hours every day, one can understand how nail fungus comes about.

Common symptoms of nail fungus include yellowing and thickening of the toenail, brittleness, and sometimes an unpleasant odour. For early or mild cases of nail fungus, you can use a topical antifungal cream.

To prevent nail fungus, wash and dry your feet regularly, don’t share nail clippers, avoid being barefoot in public facilities, and keep your toenails short, but not too short.

7. Bone Spurs

Bone spurs are bony outgrowths, typically in areas prone to osteoarthritis. The most common forms of bone spurs in the foot include heel spurs, and a bone spur on top of the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTJ). The latter is a common spot. Stiffness and arthritis in the big toe leads to a condition known as hallux rigidus.

Bone spurs inherently reduce flexibility and can be quite painful. With treatment including proper footwear, people can live normally with bone spurs without needing surgery. You should note that bone spurs are progressive meaning there’s no reversal of impact and damage done.

8. Corns

Corns are like calluses, except that corns can be painful. A corn is an area of hardened skin that develops on areas of the feet that sustain too much compression.

A corn has a few hot spots: between your toes, the outer edge of your little toe, and on top of the toes.

Corns are removable. One of our Toronto foot clinic specialists or chiropodists can safely remove the build-up of tissue and assess whether Orthopedic Shoes or Custom Orthotics may be indicated to prevent their recurrence.

9. Blisters

Blisters are more of an annoyance than anything. This minor foot condition occurs when the skin is aggravated. Because of this friction, a small fluid-filled bubble on the skin forms.

Fortunately, most blisters heal on their own. To ensure there are no complications, you can cover the blister with an adhesive bandage or blister pad, both of which are available at our Toronto foot clinic. Common tricks to avoid blisters include using baby powder for sweaty feet, proper moisture-wicking socks, and wearing shoes that fit.

10. Gout

Gout affects roughly 3 million Canadians each year.

This condition is a form of arthritis that can develop rapidly. The painful condition involves swelling and tenderness of joints. Gout is most common at the base of the big toe.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing the inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack. Urate crystals can form when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood.” Foods that can lead to high levels of urate are red meats, seafood, refined or processed carbohydrates, sugary drinks and alcohol such as beer and hard liquor.

And there you have it: 10 common foot conditions.

This list is by no means an exhaustive list. There are tens, if not hundreds, of different common foot conditions you might develop over the course of your life. To address your foot issues early, see a foot specialist.

If you’re in Toronto, Book An Appointment with a specialist today, or visit the store for everyday items like compression socks, footwear, and for a custom shoe fitting.

Foot Myths, Debunked And Explained

Our legs are a complex and intricate system of bones, joints, and muscles. Everything is interconnected in some way.

Muscles and joints rely on each other to perform properly, and to provide the necessary foundation for our body. Our habits, genetics, and environment all affect our feet. With so many different possibilities for foot conditions to arise, it’s important to remember that correlation is not causation.

Just because we do one thing, does not necessarily mean it causes another. To help clear the air over a sample of common foot myths, we decided to debunk a few of them below.

1. Flat feet are bad

About 30% of the population lives with flat feet.

Flat feet are defined as a postural deformity in which the arches of the foot collapse. As a result, the entire foot makes contact with the ground. The foot is characterized by a very low arch, and can other foot conditions because of the leg’s compensation.

Flat feet can develop in one foot, or both, depending on your body’s development.

According to Harvard Medical School, even in adulthood, 15% to 25% of people have flexible flatfeet. Most of these people never develop symptoms. For those with what’s called rigid flat feet, several measures can be taken to reduce pain and live comfortably with flat feet. These include:

  • Custom orthotics that artificially raise the arch and provide support
  • Strengthen and stretch your calf as this reduces the pressure and load on your arches
  • Supplement some high-impact exercise with low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or spinning
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Wearing slippers or supportive footwear inside instead of walking around barefoot

2. Wearing heels causes all of women’s foot problems

Additionally, a common misconception is that high heels cause bunions. This isn’t true. Heels aggravate bunions but are likely not the cause.

However, excessive heel usage can result in a few common foot conditions: Corns, Hammertoe and Calluses. Additionally, you’re at a greater risk of osteoarthritis since you may lose fat under your foot.

According to WebMD, you can prevent certain foot conditions while continuing to wear heels. Some of these preventative measures include:

  • Get the well-fitted high heel
  • Use silicone metatarsal pads for under your feet
  • Wear a thicker heel for stability
  • Pay attention to the “slope” or “pitch” of the heel
  • Wear open-toe high heels to relieve pressure on corns and calluses

3. A bunion is just a bump

A bunion may look like just a bump. However, that’s another in the list of foot myths. If only it were that simple…

Depending on the cause, your habits may worsen the condition. Maybe you wear shoes with a narrow toebox. Without correction, bunions can get a lot worse over time, turning just a bump into severe pain.

A Bunion, or hallux valgus, is a bony protrusion that forms at the site of the large joint that connects your big toe to your foot.  As you can expect, without addressing the cause of bunions, the toe angle’s alignment can sharpen, causing a larger bump.

It should be noted that bunions can be hereditary, in which case you might be doing everything right. In this instance, continue to practice proper foot habits like:

  • Footwear modification, i.e., avoiding tight shoes with a narrow or stiff toe box.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Bunion splints
  • Bunion aligner
  • Therapeutic taping
  • Supportive insoles or custom orthotics

You should consult a foot specialist to see whether or not action needs to be taken.

4. Foot pain is the result of getting old

Foot conditions like osteoarthritis are common in older people. Osteoarthritis is a generative joint disease characterized by both a breakdown of cartilage and a build-up of osteophytes.

However, young people are not immune to the foot conditions of the elderly. If you train at a high level and participate in high-impact sports, you may experience osteoarthritis earlier in your life, even in your 20s. Common areas for osteoarthritis include the big toe joint, knees, and hips.

Because osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, the damage that’s been done is irreversible. The damage to the cartilage between your joints has been done. If this is, in fact, the case, physical therapy is the best course of action. Common treatments include functional improvements – like stretching for a range of motion – and managing symptoms like with rest and ibuprofen.

5. Surgery will fix foot problems

Surgery can help fix certain foot conditions, but non-invasive options may work equally well, if not be more effective.

There are several factors to consider when deciding on foot surgery:

  1. Necessity
  2. Success rate
  3. Cost
  4. Recovery time
  5. Long-term effectiveness

Certain progressive conditions like hallux rigidus, bunions, and a ruptured Achilles may require surgery to correct the inherent problem. However, physical therapy can also improve quality of life. Proper orthotics, avoiding high-impact exercise, proper footwear, and strengthening can help limit pain associated with certain foot conditions.

However, surgery removes the bone portion of the injury. For those with Hallux Rigidus, the Bone Spur contributes to the toe’s stiffness. The range of motion won’t improve without surgery. Although, the worsening of the condition can be slowed with physical therapy as mentioned above.

For those with a Bunion, you’ll want to explore All Non-Invasive Measures before deciding on surgery. If you have explored all options, surgery may be an option. Typically, those who experience significant pain, have severe toe deformities, and have chronic inflammation are the likely candidates for surgery. Bunion surgery (of which there are a few) can include several correct measures:

  • Realigning the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe.
  • Pain relief.
  • Correcting the deformity of the bones, especially if your big toe is drifting inwards towards your second metatarsal.

If you’re unsure about foot conditions, toenail conditions, or skin conditions, contact us at Feet First Clinic to set up an appointment. You can do that below, or by Contacting Us Here!

Everyday Toe Conditions

It’s all in the toes.

Our toes bear the weight of the body with every step and are the foundation for our movement. The big toe specifically is the final point of contact before each step. In fact, the big toe carries the most weight of all the toes, bearing about 40% of the load.

As a result, many foot injuries and toe conditions stem from, or affect, the big toe.

Maintaining good toe health is crucial for the longevity and long-term health of your feet. There are a number of different foot conditions that can result from toe neglect. Stiff toes, for example, can lead to hallux limitus or hallux rigidus.

Below you’ll find a list of common toe conditions.

Claw Toe

A Claw Toe has an abnormal bend in both the middle joint and the joint closest to the tip of the toe.

Symptoms of claw toe include an upward extension from the joints at the ball of the foot and downward flexion at the middle joints toward the sole of your shoe. Claw toe comes in the shape of a bridge or a hump.

Early on, claw toe resembles a flexible hammertoe (see more below). However, over time, claw toes can stiffen. It’s important to address claw toe early to reverse the deformity.  One such treatment is a splint or tape to hold your toes in the correct position.

Finding shoes that fit correctly is also a key preventative measure. You’ll notice through this article that many toe conditions can be prevented by wearing Proper Footwear. Additionally, you can use your hands to stretch and straighten your toes, and perform exercises including picking up marbles or a towel to strengthen local ligaments and tendons.

Subungual Hematoma

A subungual hematoma is a medical term for a Black Toenail.

A black toenail occurs when the skin below the nail is damaged. Long-distance runners are particularly susceptible to black toenails because of the friction to the top of the foot, as well as the duration of the activity.

Immediately after injuring your toe, you should follow the RICE protocol to reduce the pain and swelling: Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevation. Rest means you should stop doing any physical activity. Wrap a clean bandage around the toe to stem the blood. Put a bag of ice or a cold compress on the covered injury. Then lie down and elevate your foot by resting it on a pillow.

Turf Toe

Turf toe is a sprain of the big toe joint resulting from injury during sports activities.

This acute injury typically occurs from jamming the toe. Turf toe includes pain, swelling and limited joint movement. Following the RICE protocol – rest, ice, compression, and elevation – is beneficial. Additionally, wear stiff footwear to keep the toe at a neutral angle and isolated while walking.

The biggest concern here is either not addressing the injury, or rushing back to activity too quickly. Without the proper treatment, turf toe can turn into hallux limitus.

Hallux Rigidus

Hallux Rigidus
Osteophyte (bone spur) on top of the left first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) due to hallux rigidus.

Translated to a stiff big toe, hallux rigidus is a progressive condition that stems from osteoarthritis in the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness in the joint and over time, the toe loses flexibility.

As the cartilage at the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP) breaks down, the metatarsal bones and the proximal bones rub together. This friction, as well as the body’s response to fill the void left by osteoarthritis results in the formation of a bone spur.

In this case, it’s important to recognize the early signs of hallux rigidus, including at its previous stage hallux limits. Work on improving the range of motion in the toes and invest in custom-made orthotics or footwear with a rocker to reduce the pressure and bend of the big toe.

Hammertoe

Hammertoe is a progressive toe condition that worsens if left untreated. In short, hammertoe is a toe deformity of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth (little) toes. You’ll see one of the toes shift and cross over another toe.

Hammertoe occurs when you wear ill-fitting shoes. Specifically, footwear that is far too small for your feet. The lack of space deforms your toes and can cause a shift in the tendons and ligaments. Fortunately, addressing the cause quickly can be extremely effective.

Treatment includes:

  • Corn pads
  • Stretching and strengthening your toe and toe and foot muscles
  • Roomier footwear
  • Custom orthotics that help reposition and take the pressure off of your toes
  • Surgery

Left untreated, hammertoe can worsen and require surgery. If your toes appear bent or you are experiencing toe mobility, visit one of our licensed chiropodists (foot specialists) as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Drop-in shoe fitting for hammertoe is also offered.

Gout

Illustration of foot with close up of build up of uric acid in joint of the big toe

Gout is a common and complex form of arthritis that often begins in the big toe.

It’s often known as the “disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease” because it’s prevalent in older men, as well as those who eat meat or seafood, drink beer, or are overweight.

It’s characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints. Gout looks like a swollen bunion on the outside of the big toe.

To help prevent gout, you can follow these preventative measures:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Limit or avoid alcohol
  • Get your protein from low-fat dairy products
  • Limit your intake of meat, fish and poultry
  • Maintain desirable body weight

Remember, our bodies begin at our feet. Take proper care through the various methods mentioned in this article to prevent toe conditions from occurring.

How To Protect Your Feet This Winter

Winter can be the time of year when your feet are hit hardest. Dry skin, wet shoes, frostbite, sweaty feet: all foot issues and conditions that seem synonymous with winter.

As temperatures drop and we head into cold(er) conditions, you’ll want to know how to protect your feet this winter.

Below, we break down some of the most important areas in this winter foot guide.

Keep Your Feet Warm

This tip is no surprise. Frigid temperatures mean a frostbite factor.

Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Your toes are particularly susceptible to frostbite, which begins when your skin becomes cold and red, then numb, then hard and pale.

The numbness stage can be of particular concern, because you may not know the severity of the frostbite. The injury starts out as frostnip, followed by superficial frostbite, and then deep frostbite, the most severe of the three stages.

To prevent frostbite from occurring, taking the following precautions:

  • Wear moisture-wicking socks that fit correctly, and have insulation
  • Change out wet socks as soon as possible
  • Watch for signs of frostbite like red skin, or numbness
  • Keep moving: encourage blood flow to the area

For more on frostbite prevention, and to ensure your feet are warm this winter, check out our complete winter foot guide.

Dry Your Shoes To Protect Your Feet This Winter

Do yourself a favour and ensure your shoes are dry before each use.

Not only will it extend the life of your shoes, you’ll be less prone to the foot conditions that come with wet feet. Plus, wearing wet shoes for extended periods of time can permanently alter the sizing of the shoe, making them bigger than intended.

If your shoes do become wet, remove the insoles and leave them in a well-ventilated area. Keeping your shoes in your bag, closet, or in dark, moist areas will mean a longer drying time. There are also heated shoe racks that quicken the drying process; they can be a great investment if you consistently find your shoes don’t have adequate time between use.

Keep Your Feet (Not Skin) Dry

Did you know that sweat glands are more concentrated on your feet than in any other part of the body? On a given day, thanks to the roughly 250,000 sweat glands, your feet can produce up to one cup of sweat. No wonder moisture can linger.

Even in the winter, your feet sweat. To keep your feet dry, invest in moisture-wicking socks. In essence, these type of socks absorb and bring moisture away from your feet. For a complete list of recommendations, check out our list of best socks for your feet that won’t break the bank.

Socks are only part of the equation in the battle against winter elements. Your primary source of defence is your footwear. And not all shoes are designed for winter. Avoid breathable shoes as they won’t be able to protect your feet from the wind. Plus, slush, ice and snow can more easily penetrate your shoe’s outer material and waterlog your socks.

For a full list of brands we carry in-store for your footwear needs, read about the products we offer.

Soften Your Skin

Winter is prime time for dry skin, which occurs when your feet aren’t retaining enough moisture.

According to Harvard Medical School, winter poses a special problem because humidity is low both outdoors and indoors, and the water content of the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) tends to reflect the level of humidity around it. Further, dry skin becomes much more common with age.

By moisturizing your skin, you can help prevent calluses, blisters, and cracked heels. Skin moisturizers – mixed with other preventative measures like reducing the temperature of the water you bathe in, reducing showers to once daily, and use a humidifier in the winter – is a good start. You can use petroleum jelly or mainstream brands.

Fend Off Feisty Fungus

With harsh winter elements comes added exposure to moisture.

Certain fungi thrive in dark, moist places, making your feet a prime area. You could be at an increased risk of:

As we’ve previously written, dermatophyte fungi thrive in dark, moist areas and feed on keratin – a primary component of the epidermis (the outer layer of human skin). This means that our feet, which spend most of the day bound up in socks and shoes, present an ideal environment for the proliferation of a fungal infection. Consequently, one in 10 people have athlete’s foot.

In order to help prevent these types of foot conditions and protect your feet this winter, swap out wet socks for dry ones – remember that fungi thrive in moist areas – and wear winter-tough boots – like Sorels – when possible in the winter. Other common preventative measures include trimming your toenails, thoroughly drying your feet, and wearing shoes when in common areas like the gym.

For proper winter footwear and socks, visit our Toronto Foot Clinic on Monday-Friday between 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Get Your Feet Measured This Winter

There are a slew of problems that arise from ill-fitting shoes. For example, black toenails, pinched-nerve pain, bunions, blisters, corns and calluses can all of a result of shoes that are either too big or too small.

Addressing problems with your feet is essential for your entire body. In fact, the health of your feet can directly affect your posture.

In fact, eight out of 10 people have ill-fitting shoes. At Feet First Clinic, we offer every customer a comprehensive footwear assessment free of charge to ensure that you invest in the healthiest footwear for your unique feet.

Our footwear specialists and chiropodists will help match your foot shape, structure, and alignment to specific shoes and footwear features that answer to your corrective, supportive, or accommodative needs.

If you’re in Toronto, come on in and visit us for an in-person assessment.

Here’s a complete guide to picking the correct footwear to better protect your feet this winter.

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Feet First Clinic has some of the best chiropodists in Toronto — we specialize in foot care treatments and products like custom made orthotics, orthopedic footwear, accessories and much more.

Read about what you can expect from your first visit to Feet First Clinic.

Cracked Heels: Frequently Asked Questions

Cracked heels, also known as heel fissures, is a common foot condition in which the skin on the bottom of the heels becomes excessively dry and therefore, loses its elasticity, causing the skin to split and crack. Today, we will be answering some of the most frequently asked questions regarding cracked heels.

Do I still get cracked heels even when the weather is cold?

YES. You can still get cracked heels during the winter season. In fact, cracked heels are usually worse in the winter than in the summer. This is because the skin is usually the driest in the winter when humidity is low and the temperature is cold. In general, both extremes in weather and environmental temperature can exacerbate cracked heels.

Is Vaseline good for cracked heels?

Vaseline is an occlusive ingredient, meaning it creates a film or barrier where applied, often used to protect the skin and seal in existing moisture. With that being said, Vaseline does not hydrate the skin as it does not add moisture. Therefore, by itself, it is not the most effective way to moisturize the cracked skin on your feet.

What is the best moisturizer for cracked heels?

A urea-based cream is the best moisturizer for cracked heels and for overall dry feet. Urea is an organic compound that works as a keratolytic and a humectant emollient. This means it exfoliates the skin cells to allow for better product penetration as well as softens and hydrates the skin as it attracts and holds onto water. Look for moisturizers that contain 10-25% urea as an active ingredient. Using a urea-based cream regularly as well as a foot file to remove dead skin cells will help to manage the calluses on your heels.

When should I see a chiropodist for cracked heels?

See a Registered Chiropodist or Foot Specialist for cracked heels if the calluses are thick and you cannot manage them yourself with moisturizers and a foot file. If there is pain, signs of an infection, or you have diabetes, see a chiropodist right away.

What are cracked heels a sign of?

Cracked heels are a sign of dehydrated skin and increased tensile stress on the heels. Tensile stress occurs when an object is under load and the active forces on the object are trying to stretch it. In other words, as load increases on the heels, the skin is not able to withstand these pressures and will tear, especially if the skin is dry and callused. Factors that influence the occurrence of cracked heels include but are not limited to peripheral vascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis/eczema, tinea pedis, and faulty foot mechanics or gait abnormalities. Talk to your chiropodist about the possibility of these additional factors contributing to your cracked heels.

If you would like to have a Registered Chiropodist look at your cracked heels and provide treatment to help manage them.

Book an appointment with one of our practitioners at Feet First Clinic today!

Rheumatoid & Psoriatic Arthritis

Other than osteoarthritis, most other forms of arthritis are described as “Inflammatory Arthritis” because in these cases, inflammation itself is the source of cartilage damage.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means it occurs when the body’s immune system starts to mistakenly attack its own tissues. With rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system targets the lining of the joints, leading to chronic inflammation, cartilage damage, joint impairment and joint deformity. In addition, this disease is not only localized to the joint, but also has systemic implications, such as a low-grade fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, and anemia. In some cases, inflammation can even affect nearby organs like the nerves, eyes, skin, heart, and lungs.

Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by flares and remissions of disease activity, including swelling, pain, and stiffness in multiple joints, usually presenting in a symmetrical fashion. For instance, when a joint in your left hand is swollen, the same joint in your right hand will also be swollen. The disease starts by affecting the smaller joints in the body such as those found in the hands, wrists, and feet, and will spread to larger joints as the disease progresses.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis associated with an inflammatory dermatological condition called, psoriasis. Psoriasis is characterized by red, silvery, scaly patches that are itchy and sometimes painful. Nails can also be involved and become thickened, discoloured, pitted, and crumbly, mimicking nails infected with fungus.

Psoriatic arthritis usually affects a joint or a few joints of the fingers and toes, resulting in a swollen, red digit. In some cases, the spine and knee may also be affected.

How Can a Chiropodist Help?

Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis can lead to joint disability and joint deformity. Therefore, wearing orthopedic footwear to accommodate the foot can help to manage pain and inflammation, thereby, slowing down the progression of the disease. In general, look for a wide set shoe with a wide and deep toebox and a cushioned insole. A biomechanical assessment and gait analysis will determine if there are any biomechanical faults that are exacerbating your symptoms. The best custom foot orthotic will control, stabilize, and support the foot, reducing stress on joints and evenly redistributing pressures.

 

If you have rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis affecting the joints of your feet, stop living in pain and book an appointment with one of our Licensed Chiropodists at Feet First Clinic today. Chiropodists can help to restore and preserve function as well as maintain mobility in the joints of your feet, significantly improving the quality of your life.

Osteoarthritis: How it Affects Your Feet

Arthritis is a broad term that describes a disease characterized by inflammation (redness, swelling, and pain) in the joints of the body. As the disease progresses, chronic inflammation can lead to permanent damage to these joints, resulting in restricted mobility and loss of function. It is safe to say that arthritis can significantly diminish your quality of life.

There are many types of arthritis; however today, we will discuss the most common type: osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis in which the cartilage between the joints in your body breaks down. This is usually caused by “wear and tear” or overuse of the joints accumulated over a long period of time. The most common areas affected are those exposed to the most stress or weight like the knees, hip, hands and spine.

Damaged cartilage within the joints makes movement painful and stiff. If you have osteoarthritis, you may experience a deep, aching pain in the affected joints, as well as morning stiffness and stiffness after resting. Moving your joints in its full range of motion and doing activity that engages the affected joints may be difficult and painful.

Although aging is inevitable, you can reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis by maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood sugar, regularly participating in low-impact exercise, avoiding injury, and getting rest when needed.

How Does Osteoarthritis Affect the Feet?

In the foot, the most common joint to be affected is the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint, which is the joint that connects your big toe to the rest of your foot.

If you’re experiencing arthritic pain, swelling, and restricted motion in the 1st toe, consider booking an appointment with a Licensed Chiropodist who can help by limiting painful movement and preventing further deformity. Your chiropodist may create a shaft pad for your shoe or tape the joint to limit range of motion.

A full biomechanical assessment and gait analysis will also determine an underlying biomechanical fault that may be exacerbating the progression of the disease. The best custom foot orthotic will control, stabilize, and support the foot, reducing stress and encouraging healthier joint alignments.

Book an appointment with a Licensed Chiropodist at Feet First Clinic today!

A Quick Guide For Addressing Cracked Heels

If you have hard, thickened, painful skin on the bottom of your heels, you may have what is called cracked heels.

Cracked heels, also known as heel fissures, is a common foot condition in which the skin on the bottom of the heels becomes excessively dry causing the skin to split and crack. Fissures are usually accompanied by thickened yellow or brown callus. These fissures can be painful and bleed and if persistent, can lead to infection.

To help avoid and manage cracked heels, follow the steps below:

Moisturize daily

This is probably the easiest thing you can do to help treat cracked heels. Applying moisturizer twice daily can really make a difference in your skin. Look for moisturizers that contain a handful percentage of urea. Urea helps to bring moisture into the skin as well as acts as a chemical exfoliant. For best results, apply right after washing your feet.

feet first clinic dermal therapy
  Dermal Therapy

Exfoliate

While in the shower or after a foot bath, use a pumice stone or file to gently exfoliate the heels of any dead skin cells and keep them smooth.

Feet First Clinic file and foot bath photo

Avoid harsh conditions

In general, avoid all harsh conditions such as excessively hot baths, exposure to very cold weather, or use of harsh soaps. Instead, opt for warm showers, wearing proper protective shoes and socks in the winter, and washing your feet using a gentle, scent free, moisturizing soap.

Visit your local Chiropodist

A Chiropodist is a primary health care provider who will be able to directly treat your heel fissures. This means, at your appointment, a Chiropodist will mechanically debride (removal of damaged tissue) or remove all calluses down to normal tissue to encourage closure of any cracks in the skin. If your cracked heels are accompanied with redness, swelling, pain, and you suspect infection, book an appointment with a Chiropodist for proper treatment.

Insoles

Whether over the counter or custom made, insoles with extra cushioning around the heels can also work to prevent cracked heels. In cases where you have an occupation which requires you to be on your feet all day or work on hard surfaces, insoles may be a great option to look into.

If you have a medical condition such as Diabetes associated with cracked heels, do not try to treat them yourself. Rather, book an appointment with a Registered Chiropodist at Feet First Clinic who will assess your feet and provide the necessary treatments. Careful debridement as well as the appropriate wound dressings may be required to encourage healing and prevent infection.

Call Feet First Clinic today!