Foot Care

Why is foot care important?

You depend on your feet more than you may realize. Over a lifetime, you may walk about 115,000 miles. It is easy to take healthy feet for granted, but foot problems are among the most common health problems. Good foot care can help prevent many of these problems.

What are common foot problems and their causes?

There are many common foot problems:

  • Achilles tendonitis is a condition of painful ankles that you may have when you wear flat shoes after wearing high heels for many years.
  • Athlete’s foot is a rash caused by a fungus that is present in warm, damp places, such as locker rooms.
  • Blisters are raised areas of skin, sometimes with fluid, that are usually caused by the rubbing of new shoes or shoes that don’t fit well.
  • A bunion is a bony bump over the joint of your big toe that can result from wearing too narrow shoes, especially ones with pointed toes and high heels.
  • Corns are hard, raised bumps over a joint or small area on your foot, usually on the top or sides of your toes, caused by pressure on the toes from tight shoes or misshapen toes.
  • Calluses are hard, raised bumps over a larger area of your foot that form with repeated rubbing by a shoe, ski, or skate. They are most often on the bottom of your foot or back of your ankle.
  • Cold feet may be related to smoking, diabetes, or other problems that affect blood flow.
  • Foot odor is generally the result of sweaty feet and can usually be prevented with good, daily foot hygiene.
  • A hammertoe is a toe bent out shape. This problem may run in families, but it is made worse by tight shoes.
  • Misshapen or discolored nails can result from injury but most often are caused by fungus.
  • Ingrown toenails can be caused by shoe pressure or improper nail trimming.
  • Pain and stiffness in the joints of your foot are often due to over-training, arthritis, and old injuries.
  • Plantar warts are warts on the bottom of your foot that are caused by viruses and may develop after you walk barefoot in warm, damp places, such as gym showers or locker rooms.
  • Pump bump (lump on back of heel bone) is caused by low-cut shoes that rub your heel.

As you get older, the likelihood of foot problems increases. Some of this is due to years of wear and tear on your feet. Also, as you get older you are more likely to suffer from diseases that can affect your feet.

How should I care for my feet?

  • Check your feet regularly. Check for cuts, scrapes, bruises, calluses, and corns. Swelling or redness may be signs of pressure on your feet or infection.
  • Practice good daily foot care. Wash your feet daily and dry them well. Protect your skin with lotion, moisturizer, or petroleum jelly after you clean your feet.
  • Don’t go barefoot in warm, damp places, such as locker rooms.
  • If your feet sweat, use a light dusting powder.
  • Don’t share towels after exercise or sports activities.
  • Change your socks or hose daily, or more often if they get damp. Use cotton socks for exercise or sports activities.
  • Wear leather or canvas shoes that allow your feet to breathe.
  • Don’t wear the same shoes all the time. Let them air out between wearing. It’s helpful to have more than 1 pair of everyday shoes and to switch shoes every day.
  • Use a nail clipper to trim your toenails straight across without curving the edges.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that fit well, provide support, and don’t rub. Avoid narrow, tight shoes with pointed toes. Avoid shoes with high heels. Make sure you protect your foot with good shoe cushioning when you exercise. Not having enough cushioning can injure your heels and cause long-term heel pain.
  • Try to keep a healthy weight. If you are overweight, lose weight.
  • If you smoke, try to quit. Quitting will improve the flow of blood to your feet. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to quit smoking.
  • If you have a foot problem, follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. Ask your provider:
    • How long it will take to recover
    • If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
    • How to take care of yourself at home
    • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-30
Last reviewed: 2014-10-30
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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