Common Foot Problems

Hard skin (callus)

This builds up when your skin is affected by pressure or friction. Small amounts can be removed using a pumice stone or foot file but thicker areas may become uncomfortable, or dry out and crack, and may need expert help.


These are small distinct areas of thick callus, usually on pressure points underneath the foot or on toes, which can be very painful. A podiatrist can remove callus and help to reduce the pressure that caused it.

Thick nails

These can be due to damage, pressure from footwear, skin problems like psoriasis or eczema, or sometimes fungal infections. If you have problems with them, a podiatrist can help or give advice.

Ingrowing nails

Nails come in different shapesand sizes and some curve in at the sides and can be hard to cut or painful.

If the nail edge is damaged or cut badly, it can grow into the skin, becoming very paiful and swollen and may become infected.

Sometimes this can be solved by cutting the nail properly and relieving pressure on the toe but if it recurs it may need surgery under local anaesthetic to remove part of the nail. It is usually best to stop this part regrowing (by applying a chemical to the nail bed) and in some severe cases the whole nail will be removed.

Sweaty feet

Even with regular washing and footwear changes, some people still have a problem. Podiatrists can give advice about more effective treatment.

Dry skin

Age, health and a number of skin conditions can all cause skin to be dry, hard or flaky and regular emollient use will help.

Painful heel

This can have many causes including bursitis, tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.

A podiatrist can assess the problem and its likely cause and give the best advice and treatment to speed recovery.

Painful forefoot

Again, this can have many causes including stress fractures, trapped nerves and bursitis.

The podiatrist will assess the problem and give appropriate advice and treatment.


These are caused by a virus, like warts, and in children, will usually resolve themselves within a year. If they are painful or persistent the podiatrist has a number of ways to reduce the discomfort and help to shorten the time until they disappear.

Fungal infections (Athlete's foot)

Fungal skin infections usually start between the toes with redness and itching and occur when the skin gets too warm and moist. Occasionally people get a more general rash which can persist. Over the counter anti-fungal creams are usually effective.

Sometimes a fungal infection can affect the nails causing thickening, discolouration (yellow or white) and crumbling or flaking. If nail damage is caused by a fungal infection antifungal paints, or tablets prescribed by your GP, may help. Podiatrists can cut and thin down the affected nails.

Flat feet

These may not cause a problem, but in some people can lead to pain in the feet or legs and in some families are associated with getting bunions.

Podiatrists can assess the structure of the foot and the way it moves and may provide insoles to support the arch or control the movement (orthotics). These can relieve symptoms and, in young people especially, mayhelp to prevent future problems.


This is where the joint between the big toe and the foot sticks out, pushing against the shoe, and the big toe is bent towards the other toes. It is usually associated with flat feet and is often inherited (although inappropriate footwear can make it worse). Good footwear, and orthotics, may help.