It’s the season for ghosts, goblins, zombies, and things that go bump in the night…but what if it’s your feet that are really scary-looking this Halloween? There are a whole lot of foot problems that can change the appearance of your feet and toes, but here’s the thing: many of these issues aren’t just cosmetic. For that reason, we urge you to come and get those creepy creepers checked out in our Houston podiatry office so you’re still able to enjoy trick or treating next Halloween.
Creepy Looking Foot Problems that Need Your Podiatrist’s Attention
There are a few different conditions that could cause you to develop raised areas of skin or bony bumps on your feet. Here are just a few of the worst offenders.
A bunion is an abnormal, bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe (or, at the base of your baby toe, in which case we’d call it a tailor’s bunion.) Your big toe joint becomes enlarged, forcing the toe to crowd against your other toes. This puts pressure on your big toe joint, pushing it outward beyond the normal profile of your foot, and resulting in pain.
These bumps look awful, but that’s not the major problem we worry about. They also make it hard to wear shoes without pain. Not only that, but they get worse over time if left untreated, so the sooner you get your bunion get checked out, the easier it will be to help you feel better.
Any time you have an extra, abnormal growth of bone, it is called a bone spur. Bone spurs commonly occur around the small joints of the toes, on the top of the foot, or on the back of your heel. This abnormal bone growth is usually the result of repetitive stress to the joint, caused by years of walking, running or playing other sports. And, just as is the case with your bunions, the sooner you get these bad boys checked out, the less likely it will be that surgery becomes your only treatment option.
Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are formed by too much pressure, either from tight shoes or due to toe deformities or issues like gait abnormalities. Corns appear as a thickening of the skin on your toes. Hard corns are usually located on the outer surface of your little toe, or on the upper surface of the other toes. A soft corn occurs between your toes—the moisture in this area (gross, but true) is what keep those corns soft.
In contrast, a callus appears as a more diffuse area of thickening on your foot. Unlike a corn, a callus does not have a focal point. Calluses most commonly occur on the bottom of your foot.
Fortunately, we have plenty of ways to non-surgically treat these bumps in my Houston podiatry practice, but you’ll likely have to see me fairly regularly for a bit in order to truly get rid of these foot abnormalities
The SCARIEST foot problem: Diabetic Ulcers
Not only do diabetic foot ulcers look frightening, they are actually a real cause for concern: let untreated, they could threaten your limb health and leave you in need of an amputation. Thankfully, it’s fairly simple to stop ulcers before they start. Just follow these three, simple steps to proper ulcer prevention:
1. Choose the right footwear: If you have diabetes, you must avoid tight shoes—pressure on the feet is a common cause of complications. Always wear comfortable shoes with good cushioning and enough space for your toes— but beware of shoes that are too loose, as they may rub and cause blisters. Good socks are equally important, as poorly made socks can also rub against your feet and cause cuts or blisters. Diabetic socks are best—they have very few seams and come with cushioning to protect your feet from irritation. These socks also have loose-fitting tops that help promote ample circulation in your legs and feet.
2. Keep feet clean: Carefully wash your feet daily with mild soap and water. Afterwards, carefully dry them with a towel, making sure to get between your toes as well. Before they dry completely, apply a moisturizer to help prevent dryness—this can lead to cracking which, in turn, can allow ulcer-causing bacteria to get in and under your skin.
3. Check your feet daily: Some diabetics experience neuropathy, impairing sensation in your feet and legs. People with diabetic neuropathy may not notice injuries to their feet immediately. Unfortunately, neglecting even small wounds on your feet can lead to more serious infections. If you can’t see every part of your foot, get help from a mirror or a friend or loved one. You should also schedule regular visits with your podiatrist to make sure your foot health stays on track. There are no guarantees in life, but following the basic principles of diabetic foot care will go a long way towards preventing ulcers or other scary-looking foot complications.