What a great read from Men’s Journal:
What it is: All warts are viruses and easily transmitted via moist contact. Plantar refers to the soles of the feet, where the wart is found. “They are easily contracted and a difficult problem to eradicate once infected,” says Dr. Youner. Prevention, namely wearing flip-flops instead of walking barefoot in your gym locker room or at a public pool, is crucial.
How to treat: Most of the time, you are going to wind up at the podiatrist’s office to solve this one. But if you’d rather try the DIY route first, purchase a bottle of salicylic acid 17% ($10.49, walgreens.com) at your local drugstore and apply it before bed to the affected area using a cotton ball. Leave it overnight, then gently scrub the wart with a pumice stone in the morning to reduce its size. Over time, you may rid your foot of it completely (but unlikely).
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Calluses and Corns
What it is: While both corns and calluses are hard, thickened areas of skin, calluses tend to develop in places where there is repeated friction, while corns grow in places where there is a pinpoint of pressure being applied to the skin. “Calluses are likely to occur on the soles of your feet, while corns occur in areas like your little toe that is pressing against your shoe all day,” says Dr. Zinkin.
How to treat: “Daily use of a gentle acidic debridement cream, like AmLactin ($17, walgreens.com) or Gehwol Callus cream ($17, ) will help keep calluses and corns to a minimum,” says Johanna S. Youner, DPM, a podiatrist in New York City. “Wearing well-fitted shoes or cushioned pads like Spenco PolySorb insoles will also help decrease calluses on the bottom of the foot.” ($25, spenco.com) Corns may need to be treated by a medical professional. “Corns go deeper into the skin and they may need to be dug out with a scalpel,” says Dr. Zinkin. In other words, don’t try this at home, kids.
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What it is: “Most cases of yellow toenails are caused by fungal infections,” says Dr. Youner. “To get rid of the fungus and also eliminate the source of contamination, preventative measures include using antifungal powders on both feet and in shoe gear.” Because fungus grows in dark, moist places, the inside of your shoes are a prime breeding ground. The good news: Sandal season can naturally help you reduce the time your toes spend in fungal hotbeds.
How to treat: Options include laser treatments, nail thinning, and oral medication, all of which you can receive via your foot doc. “Topical OTC meds work best on new, superficial fungus, but they don’t have a great success rate,” says Dr. Zinkin. “Oral medication works better because they attack the issue from the inside-out.”
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What it is: While it’s totally normal and healthy for feet to sweat (the sweat glands in your feet produce half a pint of perspiration a day), excess moisture in the area can contribute to other foot issues like athlete’s foot. What’s more, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to nasty odors.
How to treat: “Using more natural and breathable materials on the feet will help,” says Dr. Youner. Also, “wicking socks are helpful in absorbing excess sweat.” To help curb the dampness, use your daily antiperspirant spray or stick on the soles of your feet, and carry an extra pair of socks in your office bag so you can change midday if needed, says Dr. Zinkin. For truly severe cases of over-sweating, docs now use Botox injections, which have been shown to work remarkably well at ending the sweat cycle.
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What it is: Dry skin can be caused by anything from long, hot showers to prolonged periods in the sun to medical conditions such as diabetes. Because the feet contain sweat glands but do not produce oil, they are prone to the condition.
How to treat: If the skin around your heels is cracked and flaky, you need to first gently slough off the dead skin using a foot scrub. A good bet: Gilden Tree’s Exfoliating Foot Scrub ($17, gildentree.com). Because the skin around your heels stretches every time you take a step, it is easy to keep reopening the cracked area. Use a superthick salve or cream to coat the area. Try Kiehl’s Intensive Treatment and Moisturizer for Dry or Callused Areas ($26, kiehls.com), best if applied to damp skin after you shower in order to lock in the moisture.
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What it is: The last remnants of your primate ancestors’ furry exterior.
How to treat: Resist the urge to grab and pull. That will result in ingrown hairs that are as painful as they are unattractive. Your options include shaving (cheap, but those suckers will be back and thicker than ever in a few days), waxing (DIY or see your local salon; mildly painful but lasts about a month), electrolysis (permanent but expensive) or laser treatments (a significant, long-lasting reduction in hair), both of which need to be performed by a medical professional.
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