Skip to contentright arrow
Babylon Health

What are Foot Problems?

Our feet are usually hidden away in shoes and socks. So it’s easy to dismiss a problem with them or hope it goes away by itself. But healthy feet are important to your overall health. Ignoring the issue could lead to serious pain and even affect your ability to walk.

First, foot infections are common. Injuries can let bacteria into the tissue, and germs like fungus and bacteria can then cause infections of the skin. These bugs thrive in warm, moist conditions. And certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can make foot problems more likely and more dangerous.

If you’ve noticed a problem with your feet, get in touch with your doctor today for an expert diagnosis and a discussion about treatment options.

Symptoms of Foot Infections

Different foot infections have different symptoms. Here are some of the most common foot problems:

Athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus. It causes an itchy, red rash between your toes or on the soles of your feet. You might notice an unpleasant smell. Athlete’s foot is no fun. The rash can be painful and even lead to blistering. It’s a contagious condition, so take care not to spread this to other people in your house.

Fungal nail infection

If your toenails are brittle, yellow, and thickened, this could mean you have a fungal nail infection. The condition can be painful as well as unsightly. Pain can happen when pressure is placed on the toenails.

You can pick up fungal nail infections in damp, warm places like the gym, a swimming pool or even your family bathroom.


Cellulitis is a infection of your skin. This infection can spread to other parts of your body through your bloodstream if not taken care of. You can get cellulitis anywhere on your body but it most often affects the hands and feet. It’s caused by bacteria. The symptoms are redness, pain and swelling. Your foot may be painful and feel hot to the touch. Cellulitis can start from a cut or trauma to your foot. Swelling may spread and become bigger in the affected area.

Treatment of Foot infections

Before you start treating your foot infection, ask your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Different foot infections have different treatments.

Cellulitis is treated with antibiotics. It can be serious if it’s not treated quickly.

If your foot infection is caused by a fungus (such as athlete’s foot or fungal nail infection), an antifungal treatment can help. Oral prescriptions can also be given to you by your doctor.

If it’s an ingrown toenail, your doctor can tell you how to treat it at home. But if the condition doesn’t improve, you may need minor surgery to remove the part of the toenail growing into the skin. That’s why it’s a good idea to seek help as soon as you notice a problem with your feet.

If it’s an ingrown toenail, your doctor can tell you how to treat it at home. But if the condition doesn’t improve, you may need minor surgery to remove the part of the toenail growing into the skin. That’s why it’s a good idea to seek help as soon as you notice a problem with your feet.

Foot Problems

Ingrown toenail

The side of your toenail can sometimes grow into the surrounding skin. Doctors call this an ingrown toenail. This can be painful but worse, it can lead to infection. You may have pain when wearing a shoe, or with walking. If the area around the ingrown nail gets infected as well, you may notice pus, swelling, redness, bleeding or worsening pain.

If it’s an ingrown toenail, your doctor can tell you how to treat it at home. In the early stages, you may begin treatment by soaking your foot and softening the skin so that you can push the skin away from the nail, then carefully trim the nail back. But if the condition doesn’t improve, you may need minor surgery to remove the part of the toenail growing into the skin. That’s why it’s a good idea to seek help as soon as you notice a problem with your feet.

Bunions, Corns

Corns are thick areas of skin on the feet that can be painful. They’re caused by pressure or rubbing on the skin of the feet. They’re more likely to happen if you wear high heels or uncomfortable shoes that don’t fit properly. Corns can be uncomfortable but they’re not usually serious. Wearing comfortable shoes, regularly removing hard skin and moisturizing your feet can help them go away.

Bunions are different from corns. Bunions are bony lumps that can form on the sides of your feet by your big toe. They can be painful. Surgery is the only way to get rid of them. You can stop the pain by wearing wide shoes, taking a simple pain reliever or using an ice pack. If you’re overweight, losing weight can help ease bunion pain.


Can you get a blister under your toenail?

expand iconshrink icon

No, a true blister is a separation between skin layers where fluid builds up. An infection of the skin around the fingernail or toenail (the cuticle), is called a paronychia. The skin around the nail can become red, swollen and painful at first, followed by a pus-filled blister. The area will feel warm to the touch.

Damage to the cuticle from ingrown toenail can lead to paronychia. When the skin is damaged, germs such as bacteria and fungi can get inside and cause problems.

Soaking the infected nail in warm water for 20 minutes a day can help. If that doesn’t work, a doctor may need to drain the blister. In rare cases, the doctor may have to remove part of the toenail. You might have to take antibiotics or use an antifungal cream to treat the infection.

How do you know if you have an infection on your foot?

expand iconshrink icon

There are many symptoms of foot infections. Foot infections can be caused by injury or germs such as bacteria and fungi. Signs you might have a foot infection include swelling and pain, itchiness, changes to your toenails and a bad smell. You may also have difficulty walking.

Injuries such as cuts and blisters can make a foot infection more likely. Taking care of your feet can stop foot infections becoming serious. A doctor will be able to tell you what is causing your foot infection. A doctor will give you a treatment plan to stop the infection.

What are the most common foot infections?

expand iconshrink icon

There are different types of foot infections. They can be caused by injury, bacteria and fungus. The most common infections are athlete’s foot, fungal nail infection and ingrown toenail. These can all cause pain and make walking difficult if they are not treated properly. If you have diabetes, foot problems, such as ulcers, are common. It’s even more important you take care of your feet. See your doctor if you notice a problem with your feet.

Which foot infections are common in people with diabetes?

expand iconshrink icon

Diabetes makes you more prone to foot problems. The illness can reduce blood flow to the feet and affect your nerves. People with illness may not notice a foot injury right away.

Cuts and blisters may be slow to heal. And foot ulcers and infections are common with diabetes. They can even lead to amputation in serious cases.

If you have diabetes, you should check your feet every day for problems. If you notice any issues, such as swelling and sores, speak to your doctor immediately.

How long does foot fungus last?

expand iconshrink icon

Athlete’s foot won’t usually get better on its own, but there are plenty of treatments that can help. Most mild cases of athlete’s foot clear up within 2 weeks of starting treatment. Make sure you use the cream, powder, or spray as your doctor recommends. If not, the infection can come back.

Fungal nail infections are a bit harder to treat. You’ll need to be patient. With treatment, it can take up to 18 months for the affected nail to return to normal. But it’ll be worth the wait.

Is athlete’s foot the same as a yeast infection?

expand iconshrink icon

No. Yeast is a type of fungus. But athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that isn’t caused by yeast. It’s caused by the same type of fungus that causes ringworm and jock itch. Athlete’s foot usually starts between the toes. Scaly, itchy, burning, and redness are symptoms of athlete’s foot.

Yeast infections cause thrush - which can affect the vagina and mouth. You shouldn’t use thrush cream or pills to treat athlete’s foot. A doctor will diagnose you with athlete’s foot.

Can you go into a hot tub if you have athlete’s foot?

expand iconshrink icon

It is not recommended to go into hot tubs if you think you have athlete’s foot, or have been diagnosed with athlete’s foot. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot grows best in warm, damp places. Athlete’s foot is contagious and can be passed from one person to another. It’s best to avoid swimming pools and hot tubs if you have athlete’s foot. Don’t walk around barefoot in showers and locker rooms. And don’t share towels, socks and shoes with other people.

Athlete’s foot can be treated with creams, sprays and powders. In some cases, a prescription may be given to you by your doctor. Ask your doctor which treatment would work best for you.

What are the symptoms of a bacterial foot infection?

expand iconshrink icon

Bacteria can get into your foot through a crack or cut and cause problems. A bacterial foot infection is usually called cellulitis. You might notice the skin becomes red, swollen and painful and the redness spreads or becomes bigger on your foot. Cellulitis can be treated with antibiotics. It can be serious if it’s not treated quickly so you should speak to a doctor if you notice symptoms of cellulitis.

You can prevent bacterial foot infections by keeping your feet clean and moisturized and wearing comfortable footwear. If you have a cut or trauma to your foot make sure to keep this area clean with soap and water, and covered with a bandage if needed for bleeding.

Can an ingrown toenail infection spread?

expand iconshrink icon

Yes. Any infection can spread through the bloodstream. Ingrown toenails may seem minor but they can be serious if not treated properly. Ingrown toenails can lead to infections in the rest of the foot. See your doctor if the redness, pain or swelling has spread from the toenail - or you notice pus coming out of the affected area. A fever is also a sign of infection. You might need antibiotics. Speak to your doctor quickly if you notice any of these symptoms.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.