Hard skin (calluses):
Calluses develop as hardened and thickened skin in response to excess pressure and friction. Excess pressure and friction could result from poorly fitting footwear (too small or too big), wearing high heels and it may also be as a result of poor foot mechanics during walking or any other weight-bearing activity. They can be painful and uncomfortable or you might simply find them unsightly. They most commonly occur over the balls of the foot, tops of the toes and around the heels.
Corns develop for the same reasons as callus but look different. They look like small, defined circles of hard skin that can be quite deep. They can develop over any areas of high pressure and friction on your feet but commonly occur on the tops of toes and on the ball of the foot. They do not have ‘root’.
Verruca (plantar warts):
Verrucae are warts that develop on the foot. These warts are caused by a virus (Human Papilloma Virus or HPV) that infects the skin cells and makes the protein in skin (keratin) replicate at a much faster rate that it would do normally. This causes the raised, rough skin, warty lesion that you see. Verruca can be painful, especially if they are in weight-bearing areas and they can spread to other parts of the foot depending on the type of virus you have. There are a number of different wart viruses and some spread more readily than others. They commonly occur in children but can occur in adulthood. Good foot hygiene is essential to stop them spreading to family members. They can be treated by a large number of remedies that can be found in reputable pharmacies and verruca that prove more resistant to self-treatment can be treated by cryotherapy (freezing) using liquid nitrogen. This type of treatment is best provided by qualified Podiatrists/Chiropodists or you may be able to receive this treatment from your GP. It is important to note that verrucae will resolve of their own accord, in time.
Athlete’s foot (Fungal skin infections):
Athlete’s foot is a very common skin infection caused by a group of organisms that live on our skin called ‘dermatophytes’. Everybody has these organisms living on their skin and they are usually harmless, but will flourish in the right environment – hot and humid – such as training shoes and tight fitting footwear. Athlete’s foot usually causes a red, itchy rash where the skin can appear dry and flaky. Sometimes, small blisters (1-2mm) in diameter may be present. It is common for it to occur in between the toes, as sweat does not evaporate easily from this part of your foot. This can make your skin moist and thus increase the risk of a fungal infection. It is easily treated once correctly diagnosed, using anti-fungal sprays or creams that can be found in any reputable pharmacy. It occurs more commonly in adults than children and many anti-fungal preparations may not be suitable for children. It is advised that children who have a suspected fungal skin (or nail) infection are referred back to the GP, who may prescribe medication that is more appropriate.