5 common foot problems – and how to fix them

Our feet carry us hundreds of thousands of kilometres in a lifetime, so it’s only natural they’ll step into some bother along the way.

If you live to 80, you’ll walk about 180,000km – that’s like trekking around the equator almost five times. That’s a lot of pressure on our feet.

But our feet are often overlooked. Take a look at some foot problems, and how to manage them.


The big toe is the major propulsion point when we walk and our foot pushes off from the ground.

When that joint doesn’t sit properly, pressure leads to the joint becoming deformed and it may deviate inward, leading to pain, inflammation and arthritis.

“Bunions are often the result of footwear – such as pointy shoes and high heels – that restricts the joint and change the way the forefoot loads. The other cause can be bony alignment or soft tissues changes,” explains Andrew Barlow, of the Australian Podiatry Association.

Ensure shoes fit comfortably and see a podiatrist for advice.

Forefoot pain

Foot pain is usually caused by placing too much load or weight in one area of the foot.

“The fat pad under your foot is like a cushion. If one region constantly bears too much load you may get hard skin, a stress fracture or inflammation that causes numbness, tingling or sharp pain,” says Barlow.

Again, a podiatrist can identify the most effective treatment.

high heels

Fungal infections

Tinea is a common fungal infection – it spreads easily and is often picked up from communal showers and swimming pools.

It appears between toes and on the arch of the foot as a red, moist rash.

Fungus can also get into toenails. Anti-fungal creams are an effective treatment.


Ill-fitting shoes are a prime cause of corns – thickened skin with a hard core that forms on the ball of the foot or tips of toes.

“Callouses and corns form where there is friction or increased loads, it’s your skin trying to protect tissue underneath,” says Barlow.

Corn care products, such as keratolytic creams, soften skin.

Ingrown toenails

Cutting nails into the corners leaves a sharp spike that embeds itself in skin next to the nail and causes infection.

Instead, cut toenails straight across.

“Ingrown nails can be very painful – we have a lot of nerve endings in our feet,” says Andrew.

“They often become infected easily and may have to be removed under local anaesthetic.”

Written by Sarah Marinos