You may not think of seeing a podiatrist or foot doctor every time your feet are feeling uncomfortable, and certainly some minor aches and pains will subside once you get off your feet or remove your ill-fitting shoes. However, some problems with your feet are very serious and should be addressed by a doctor. Consider a few signs and symptoms that may indicate that it's time to see a podiatrist.
Bunions are deformations in the joint of the big toe, where it meets the foot itself. When this joint becomes damaged, the toe will usually curve to the outside of the foot and the joint becomes very swollen and inflamed. If left untreated, a bunion can just get worse over time; this can result in damage to the muscles of the foot and toes, as these may suffer undue pressure and need to work overtime to compensate for this deformation. Once you notice you have a bunion and especially if it seems to be getting worse, see a podiatrist for treatment.
2. Toenail trouble
Ingrown toenails are when the borders of the toes actually grow back into the skin. This can happen naturally due to pressure or because you are trimming the nails improperly, so that they curve too much and push into the skin. Ingrown toenails can lead to infections and can also be very painful; a podiatrist can surgically remove the toenail or otherwise remove it from the skin so it grows properly.
Yellow and overly thick toenails may signal a toenail fungus. This fungus can spread and cause damage to the nails and in some cases, they may even fall off. The fungus can also be very painful, so it's best to have it treated with medication or topical ointments prescribed by your doctor.
3. Sores that do not heal
Anytime you have wounds or sores on the body that do not heal, you want to get medical treatment. This can be a sign of a suppressed immune system or a dangerous type of bacteria that interferes with proper healing. This often happens with the feet simply because of having them wrapped up in socks and shoes all day, so wounds cannot get oxygen needed for healing. These open sores can also get worse due to chafing against your footwear. Whatever the cause for wounds and open sores that don't heal, and especially if they seem warm or are showing other signs of infections, have them examined by a podiatrist so they can be treated properly.