Athlete's foot, corns, heel spurs - what can I do to get rid of them?

Summer time is bare feet time. But not everyone dares to do without their socks. Calluses, cracks, ingrown nails cause many people problems – and hardly anyone likes to show it. A lot can be fixed with a good pedicure. But sometimes, despite regular foot care, you get problems and complaints that are not only unpleasant, but sometimes also embarrassing.

The most common foot diseases include heel spurs, corns and athlete’s foot or nail fungus. Dermatologist Dr. Estefanía Lang from the dermatology portal Dermanostic.

To start with: Basically, you should always make sure your feet are dry, wash them conscientiously and not just let the water run over them when you shower. If you suffer from sweaty feet, regular lukewarm foot baths and a mild foot deodorant will help. Also make sure you wear suitable shoes that don’t pinch anywhere. When your feet are constricted, they react with niggles. And every now and then your feet will appreciate a little massage or circular movements of your ankles – that relaxes you.

Nail fungus and athlete’s foot

Mushrooms thrive in a warm, humid environment. They can multiply quickly there, which is why you should wear bathing shoes, especially in swimming pools, thermal baths and similar facilities, so as not to accidentally come into contact with fungal spores.

“Always dry your feet well, especially between your toes,” advises Dr. Estefania Lang. Both in the case of an acute infestation and as a precautionary measure, you should always wash your socks at 60 degrees to kill the fungal spores and let your shoes air out well. “We also recommend wearing comfortable and breathable shoes and avoiding synthetic materials.”

As soon as you find out that you have athlete’s foot, you should buy an appropriate spray, cream or gel – whichever consistency you prefer. Some are available in drugstores, others in pharmacies. You do not need a prescription. There are also foot baths that help with nail and athlete’s foot. Use the antifungal product as directed while maintaining good hygiene. Always wear socks or shoes to avoid infecting anyone else.

In addition to being itchy, athlete’s foot can also burn. The skin often flakes as well. Bubbles may form. And some of those affected complain about sudden unpleasant foot odor. Important: do not scratch under any circumstances. Because on the one hand, germs could get into the already stressed sore spots (e.g. through dirt residues under your fingernails), and on the other hand you could then spread the fungus over your fingers.

A nail fungus can be recognized by a yellowish-brownish discoloration of the nail, mostly in front or on the side, rarely on the nail bed. Sometimes the nail is also thickened or brittle, in most cases the big toe is affected. Whitish spots may also form on the nail of the toes; this is also a nail fungus, albeit a superficial one. It is best to have a doctor take a look at it to rule out that it is psoriasis, diabetes or another systemic disease.

“In the case of an infestation of nail fungus, the removal of the diseased part of the nail is recommended,” says the dermatologist. “A 40 percent urea ointment is often used for this, which softens the nail so that it can be removed with a spatula after about two weeks.” This can easily be done at home. The process is painless. Alternatively, there are special nail polishes (e.g. with the active ingredient ciclopirox), which sometimes have to be used for months to completely kill the fungus. “Depending on the degree of infestation, treatment with tablets or another oral medication may be advisable. However, you should discuss this with your dermatologist,” says Dr. Estefania Lang.


“The term ‘corn’ comes from the 16th century and describes a skin change that occurs mainly on the feet and hands and looks like a bird’s eye,” says the dermatologist. “It is a rounded, pointed thickening of the cornea. This often extends into the deeper layers of the skin and can be quite painful when pressure is applied. The cornification resembles a wart and is characterized by a glassy ‘core’. Women, older people and people with diabetes or rheumatism are particularly affected.”

Basically, corns develop as a protective reaction to constant pressure or friction. That is why they are often found on skin areas that are close to the bone. The pressure there is too high. “Other causes or influencing factors are dry skin, joint diseases, malposition of the feet, insufficient foot care, genetic predisposition and metabolic diseases,” summarizes the doctor. “As always, the treatment here is to first eliminate the cause.”

So that means: do something about the pressure load. It is usually enough to change to soft, loose-fitting shoes and to pay attention to regular foot care (foot baths, lotion). “You can also use anti-pressure patches,” says Lang. “Corn patches are a popular treatment. There is a dab of salicylic acid in the center of the adhesive surface. This softens the cornification and the horny layers can be removed more easily. The patches are worn for three to five days.” You can buy them at any pharmacy or drugstore.

heel spur

Only experts can say whether you have a heel spur: “You need an X-ray examination to be certain of this,” says Dr. Long. A heel spur is a small thorn-like ossification on the heel that protrudes inwards, i.e. into the flesh. It is often caused by pressure and causes pain.

First of all, avoid intensive sports and wear comfortable, well-cushioned and high-quality shoes. “Foot insoles with a slight increase in the heel can prevent the pain of a heel spur,” says the expert. “Padded heel cushions can also reduce the pressure on the affected area.” Both are available in drugstores, pharmacies and on the Internet (from around 8 euros for the gel cushions; the insoles cost around 20 euros, depending on the provider).

As a rule, your dermatologist can also prescribe custom-made insoles or physiotherapy if necessary. Cortisone shots can also provide short-term relief. You can take painkillers yourself if the heel spur hurts too much. In the case of acute pressure pain, you should also elevate your foot and cool the area. However, always wrap ice packs and ice packs in a cotton cloth to avoid frostbite.

If you wear the insoles regularly, choose flat and comfortable shoes and avoid heavy loads, there is a very high probability that the heel spur will disappear within a few weeks and you will be able to walk without pain again. From now on you should not do without padded shoes.

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