Common foot problems

Our podiatrists are trained in all aspects of foot care, including the most common problems like:

Athletes foot (Tinea pedis)

Athletes Foot is a contagious fungal infection of the skin that appears on the feet. It is often found between the toes, however it can affect the entire foot. The symptoms of Athletes Foot are red, moist and itchy skin; blisters may also develop.

Many anti-fungal creams, powders and sprays are available over the counter and your chemist can provide details on those in stock. Creams and sprays should be used on the skin to treat Athletes Foot and must be applied as per instructions. This usually means continuing treatment for 2-3 weeks, even if the rash has completely disappeared.

In order to prevent further contamination anti-fungal powder should be used in shoes and socks.

If symptoms persist consult a private registered podiatrist or your doctor.


Chilblains are found in people with poor circulation to their extremities.

In cold/damp weather the small blood vessels shut down completely and patches on the toes (most commonly) turn dusky red, purple or even blackish.  They usually start off itchy, but as they deteriorate they can split open and ulcerate and become painful.

Advice from your GP should be sought under these circumstances and a referral to a Podiatrist is likely to be made.

Prevention is the best cure! Keep warm, wear warm socks, thermal insoles and slippers, eat well and don’t smoke.

Never heat the feet up suddenly (for example by toasting them on the radiator or in front of the fire) and use a chilblain cream in cold weather before the problem starts.

Corns and calluses

Corns and calluses are caused by pressure and friction which makes the skin thicken. They do not always hurt and may not be harmful.

If you have corns and calluses wearing correctly fitting shoes may improve or cure the problem. Poor footwear is the most common cause of such problems.

Use a moisturising dermatological bath oil to keep skin soft. Before bathing use a pumice stone or foot-file to remove rough patches of skin.

Apply a moisturising cream to your feet daily, however do not apply this cream between the toes.

Do not cut your own corns or calluses or use corn plasters or paints which contain acids and could be dangerous.

Dry skin (Anhidrosis)

Very dry skin is known as anhidrosis and predisposes to more hard skin formation (particularly seed corns) and on heels there is often splitting skin.

A simple moisturiser should be used at least once a day (ideally morning and night).

Emulsifying ointment or Aqueous cream is often sufficient – it needn’t be a specific foot cream.

Other therapies include soaking the feet in an oily water foot bath (for example Baby Oil).

For an intensive overnight treatment, thickly apply petroleum jelly, wrap cling film over the feet (so the vaseline can only soak in) and go to bed with a pair of cotton socks.

Heel balms specifically for dry cracked heels may be purchased over the counter and can be helpful.

Sweaty feet (Hyperidrosis)

Some people have an increased tendency to sweat.  When this gets really smelly it is known as Bromidrosis and this is when the protein in the skin starts to breakdown as a result of the constantly moist conditions.

Clean cotton socks daily, combined with daily washing and alternating footwear (so one pair dries out between wearing) can help.  There are special strong antiperspirants specifically for feet available from the chemist.


Verrucae are caused by the same virus that causes warts on hands, however on weight-bearing areas they grow into the skin. They are contagious and can be spread to other family members by sharing towels, bath mats etc.

Most verrucae disappear by themselves, although it can take several years.  A range of products are available from your local pharmacy.  Please ensure you read the instructions carefully and if you have any concerns, see your pharmacist.

If your verrucae are painful or spreading contact a private registered podiatrist or your GP, otherwise treatment may not be necessary.

Page last reviewed: 9 October, 2023