Tips for your toes and your whole feet, too



Each human foot is made up of 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles or tendons, and 26 bones or one-quarter of the 206 bones in the human body. Which is often why, when you don’t take care of your feet, other problems aren’t far behind.

  1. Feet first: Medical conditions including arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders often show symptoms first in your feet so if something’s not feeling quite right in your feet, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor.
  1. Butt out: Smoking is the most common cause of peripheral vascular disease which affects the feet and legs and can lead to walking pain ulceration, infection and even amputation. That’s a good enough reason as any to stop smoking.
  1. Heel not healing? If you’re feeling a sharp pain in the bottom of your feet, it could be plantar fasciitis, inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. Your podiatrist may suggest you change your footwear or do some stretching.
  1. Bothersome bunions: Though high-heeled shoes can be an aggravating factor, they don’t actually cause bunions. These unattractive bumps next to the big toe are usually inherited. Unfortunately the only way to correct bunions is with surgery.
  1. Cold feet, warm heart: Although that’s actually not true, if your feet are always cold, it could be a sign of hypothyroidism. A blood test and a prescription may be able to help.
  1. Fungal bungle: Athletes aren’t the only ones to get athlete’s foot. This fungal infection, which affects the toes, soles and side of the feet can be a nuisance. But it’s easy to clear up with over-the-counter medication, keeping your feet clean and dry, and wearing breathable footwear.

What are your foot problems and how do you care for them? Share your tips and experiences with the Shop Talk Blog community forum!





Did you know: Our feet are getting bigger

Feet spread to support extra weight, which explains why, since 1970s, to compensate for our increased obesity, the average foot has increased two sizes. (Source)


69 thoughts on “Tips for your toes and your whole feet, too

  1. Thank you so much for this information. I’m a security officer, and I stand and walk a lot. So this is very valuable information. I’m putting it too use now.
    Thanks Again.
    Dorothy Anne Duveilhomme

  2. I have had bunion surgery on both feet but still have issues buying comfortable shoes. I also have issues with dry skin on feet & extremely thick & ugly toenails

    1. Wow I’d like to see that before and after bunion surgery ! My grandmother has one, if it were me I would be messing with it every day . Using various tools: a potato peeler would be a good start or an exacto knife. This stuff on the body fascinates me for some reason. I for awhile was a self mutilated only to escape my circumstances ongoing. :

  3. Ive been having a sharp pain onmy heel its mostly when i first stand up after sitting for any amount of time. But i start walking and it seems to go away its so annoying i also resently found out i have diabetes 2

    1. It most likely is plantar fasciitis. The technical term for what you’re experiencing is post static dyskinesia, which means pain on motion after rest. You should see a podiatrist, but even more so since you are diagnosed with diabetes.

    1. Smoking can cause peripheral arterial (vascular) disease, which can damage circulation in small (or large) vessels in your feet, which can affect the nerves in your feet, ergo neuropathy

  4. I also have very dry feet and I go into to the spa every other week and get the deluxe package on my feet/ I tip the girls the same amount as they charge because it takes them three times as long to knock down my calluses which have decided over the years to spread out and claim more territory. I get calluses that are VERY think and they really have to work on them to knock them down. In less than a week they have reclaimed my feet and hurt like crazy.

    Forget about standing for more than a couple of minutes until I can get back in. Every, yes I MEAN every joint on my feet get calluses . They are so thick and uneven that I don’t have a solid footing and often feel like I will fall. Even the very tips of my toes and all around the super thick toenails. I had to get a pair of really sharp Snips with a wide mouth to use on my toes. Toe nail clippers can’t even get a chunk of the nail from the side if they have not been soaked for at least 20 minutes.
    The toenails build up so much white gunk behind them and they compact to a very hard check when the settle in. If you can loosen them up and use a lot of patience while holding the nail on place with one hand Try ever so carefully to trim the nail. It literally feels like the nails separate from the beds. If I am to be completely forthcoming I would have to admit I have had more than a few come off with very little contact if any.

    I have started getting the bunions and they just compound the issue. I realize they are hereditary, My mother and her mother both suffered with them,

    1. I have the SAME, EXACT issues with my feet !! I feel tad bit less “abnormal”, now that I know there’s another woman out there suffering with this aweful problem as I have been. Thank you for sharing !

  5. I have all kins of problems with my feet. I have had 22 surgeries on my legs because I was crushed between two cars when I was 35. They told me I’d never walk again. On my 16th surgery the dr hit a nerve in my right leg which caused me to have drop foot.It causes the toes to push down but not up so flexing my foot doesn’t happen on its own which creates cramps up and spasms so bad that the only reason I can get relief is to physically grab my big toe and pull up on it. That stops it temporarily but let me tell you restless legs are the worst especially when I sit for too look or lay down. I am walking though and thats a blessing but I have calluses on bottom of feet as well as the tips of my toes. Believe me my feet only get relief when they are massaged and soaked. I have read up on Reflexology and it is true you have to take carebof your feet or set yourself up for extra pain and problems later. Stretching and working out together with massage and soak are the best results and relief that helps. Take care of your feet and they’ll take care of you.

    1. There are lightweight braces for foot drop that may enable you to walk more evenly and possibly diminish your calluses, among other things.

    2. The only thing I think I can help you with is the cramps. If I’m on a trip and don’t drink enough water when I go to bed I get bad cramps on my feet and legs, what really helps before bed is drinking 1 or 2 tablespoons of pickle juice and it really works. My sister used to get awful cramps every night and a pharmacist told us about the pickle juice! Hope it helps you!

    3. Quinine is good for leg cramps. You can find Tonic water at your local supermarket in the beverage aisle. That contains quinine. It has a nice flavor and is great especially in the summer to keep hydrated.

  6. My feet are always bad. Thick, hard cracked heels, thick cuticle and nails. I try to relieve them sometimes. It takes allot of work. We actually purchased a Dremmel to sand down my feet and get areas around my nails and stuff. It took me 3 days and they looked nice… mostly. I didn’t do it for 2 weeks and they look almost just as bad. It will be a long process, regular pedicures don’t do anything… ped egg and amope don’t really help. So I will habe tip so this every week. I should habe started doing this years ago. I am on my feet all the time – nurse. So is gonna be nice when they are normal.

    1. As a nurse you should know that you shouldn’t be torturing yourself; find a podiatrist who should be able to help you.

  7. Thanks for this info. I learned much from it. I do have a question that I hope you can help me with. For the past year on & off, on both of my feet, I get pain in different spots on each foot. On my right foot, I get a pain on the top in the middle & on the left foot, I get pain over towards the outer part of the foot, which is in the front more of the pinky toe & the 1 in front of it. Could it be from my sneakers, which R new? My feet at the heels seem to turn towards the left . Thanks for taking the time to read this.

  8. I walk on the balls of my feet that has caused calluses on my toes and on the bottoms of my feet. It seems as though the more I smooth them out my feet becomes very tender and painful to walk. My toenails and feet gets that matter build-up within a week of having a pedicure and it is frustrating and expensive having to continuously keep them up.

    1. You’re not getting anywhere with self-treatment. Find a podiatrist in your area to help you properly.

    2. Uneven pressure on feet causes calluses, what nature didn’t give you orthotics for shoes will help balance the pressure and help alleviate calluses.

  9. I hope i dont get bunions like my grandma did! She was in pain all the time and cried over it, so it must be pretty painful. Sorry grams that u had to go thru this~

    1. Much of developing bunion deformities is genetic, unfortunately. Doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get them, but at some point get your feet checked to see if you might have a tendency.

    1. Sometimes simple devices can help diminish hammertoes if they are not rigid. See a podiatrist to help determine.

    2. There are “appliances” you can wear to help uncross or protect the toe that is protruding you may have to wear a wider shoe to accommodate this if used.

  10. I have a problem with my toe nails. The nails are thick and one is growing like a hook, poly nose looking. Don’t know what to do. Is there any otc cream I can use?

  11. I learned an easy tip to help remove dry rough skin from feet: half a cup of white vinegar and half a cup of listerine (get the yellow so you don’t end up with green or blue feet!) in a gallon or warm water – soak for about 10 min, and it’s easier to rub off the dead skin. I’m told both the cinegar and listerine can also help some with athletes foot. I found this mix works best when it’s been a while since I’ve used it, but even week to week can help!

  12. To those with problems from thick toenails and excessive callus that rebuilds after being removed, very quickly. I have had the same problems for years. My calluses would get so thick and dry that they cracked and split to the tender skin, making it difficult to walk, and forget wearing foam type sandals as they only assisted the splitting of the callus. I recently went to the dermatologist for another problem and it seems that fungus and eczema can cause these too. I now am using some creams on them that is really helping. I would suggest you see a dermatologist. I had been to a podiatrist before and they had no suggestions but the dermatologist got right on it! Good luck and make an appointment.

  13. All info is important,much of it is common sense. Only one observation…I got married 32 years ago in size 7 Narrow shoes. After all these years and three children, but only a 15 pound weight gain, my feet now fit into size 10 Narrow! I cannot believe that 15 pounds would cause a foot to increase three sizes!!! Any thoughts?

  14. I too have very bad feet. I don’t remember when or if ever they did not hurt. I have like no fat pad on the bottom of my feet, it is like I am walking on bones. I think I also have flat feet. Get calluses on the ball of my feet & on the big toes. Not too long ago the foot dr told me to get wide shoes now. I have planter fasheitis, corns sometimes, I think a long metatasel bone, & have many more things that are wrong with them. I want to walk on marshmallows. I can’t find anything soft. Now, even my slippers which were great, are against me. I can’t wear flats, or heels. Basically I am in sneakers all the time which are not that comfortable but I wear them anyway. I want a slip on to wear in the house, but I am having trouble finding something sort of comfortable. I would like to wear sandels, but can’t find them either, I used to like a small wedge. Can’t wear flip flops, they are too flat & sometimes the middle piece where your toes go, hurt. Help!!!!!!!

    1. I had the same problems. I found a pair of sandals with rubber soles, arch supports, and toes out. That worked for me.

    2. I have tendonitis. I had to wear a boot up to my knee for 5 or 6 months. I have some inserts put in my shoes made by my podiatrist. This really helped. But the best thing I have found is to buy a pair of skechers tennis shoes. They are awesome!! I don’t even have to wear my inserts with those. You need to wear these any time you are going to be on your feet very long. Hope this helps.

  15. I am pre-diabetic and are keeping an eye on my feet. I rub them with lotion and check for problems. Also, I see a podiatrist at least yearly. I have had three surgeries on my feet, so they ache with arthritis.

  16. I spent over $40 to “cure” fungus. My Dr. Gave to best homeopathic advice…Lotrimin cream in combination with Vicks Vaporup. Yep, Vicks. You must be tenacious and put it on everyday before shoes and before bed. It didn’t totally get rid of my toe nail fungus but it sure knocked it back. Toe nail fungus is very difficult and you must battle itt constantly. And get rid of the nail polish if not only for a few weeks at a time. You can do it!

  17. I haven’t smoked in 40 years, and I have a terrible case of neuropathy in the feet, and I’m told there is nothing you can do about it. It’s very worrisome, and I’m uneasy trying to drive, but I do drive carefully. Being older doesn’t help either.

  18. I’ve had foot issues ever since I was 9 and got my right foot all cut up. I ended up with 104 stitches in my ankle but the surgeon was able to put it all back together and I have been able to walk right however, the top has always been extra sensitive to touch so I’ve never been able to wear sandals or anything like them.

    I’ve always had cold feet too and I mean real cold but was never diagnosed with Hypothyroidism until 16 years ago. I’ve told my Dr’s about the odd feel in my feet for well over 20 years and wasn’t told I have Neuropathy and Peripheral Neuropathy until we were given the opportunity to have access to our medical records on line several years ago and I read it in there.

    Seeing as how I wasn’t informed of it, until I asked about it, I wasn’t told about ways to take care of it or things I would need to be careful of especially in walking and my balance. It was by my going for physical therapy 15 months ago that I even knew why my balance was bad. On my very last day with a 3rd different therapist I was told that with Neuropathy your feet don’t give signals to your brain to tell your brain you aren’t walking right….. Having physical therapy, I was given tips on how to walk without leaning or listing to one side so I could walk in a straight line.

    It wasn’t until I read these points that I even knew my cold feet was connected to my thyroid. With all my feet issues, the only shoes that I have found I can wear are SAS shoes. They are more expensive but at least I can wear them without more pain than I already have in my feet.

  19. I’ve had a time with plantar fasciitis for about 2 years now. At first it was just the right foot but in the last 6-8 months my left foot has started to hurt. I tried exercises, stretches, tape, custom orthotics, new shoes and braces. In addition I currently have a love-hate relationship with cortisone injections. Love that it takes the pain away for a while but the pain of the actual injection is excruciating. Does anyone know of ANY other treatments/cures for plantar fasciitis?

  20. Feet, ears and nose keep growing for life. Not sure weight is a factor. I’m 5’11” 167 and my feet have gone from size 10 in college (weighed 155) to currently size 12 at age 67.

  21. many of you with thick nails may be suffering with fungal overload in your system, do some research on Caprylic Acid, personally I found Solaray brand to work best for me, whatever the brand it needs to be time released to reach your gut to be effective.
    Combine that with an anti fungal supplement and you may be surprised with the results.
    A lot of people are suffering from the symptoms of Candida overgrowth in their system had to diagnose just google it and see if you find your symptoms listed.
    Also laser treatments with the Cutera Genesis Plus laser, no other laser is FDA approved to treat fungal nails.
    For the thick calluses be careful about spas many harbor many fungal problems more harm than good can come from that, make sure they are sanitizing everything not just disinfecting. Chech with your health insurance about Podiatry care let a professional remove the callouses, for plantar Facisitis or heel pain many podiatrists offer EPAT or MR laser treatment that is covered by insurance both offer a great deal of relief.
    I have worked in a podiatry office for over 10 years and I do these treatments personally on patients and have seen them find relief from pain, both treatments are also wonderful for diabetic neuropathy, I have patients that had horrible numbness in their feet that after treatments the numbness is lessening. There is help out the call your primary care doctor and get a referral, don’t suffer.

  22. I had a plantar tumor come up in the arch of my foot. My doctor used a vibrator like they use on kidney stones to massage the tumor every month for about three months and then every three months for about 7 months.. AFTER THAT IT HAS NOT COME BACK!!!!! It has been three years now and everything is fine.

  23. Thank you for your very useful information. As a Type 1 diabetic, I am always concerned about my feet and doing all that I can to take care of them properly.

  24. Your whole body mechanic’s is VITAl.

    I’m a disabled Pro-Trainer, who has gunk toe, on the right foot. Since I can’t perform in a Pro-Trainer cycle. My job classification went to zero. I use too earn $140,000 a year salary, now I get $9,400 a year ( SSI payments). Which ain’t crap, so it behooves anybody, TAKE CARE OF YOUR FEET.

  25. I have had hypothyroidism since I was 5 years old, now I am 51 years old. My feet are always cold & no one ever told me it could be due to this. Thank you for the useful information.

  26. I have had up to 8 operations, if not more due to very small bunions, and the wrong operations done in the beginning; some years later I found a Podiatrist that corrected the mess, a Dr. Estershon in New Jersey…love him. Periodically, too often I get this itchiness in the bottom of my feet, extreme itching, inside my feet!!! Is this symptoms of poor circulation or what?

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