nurse giving foot massage to senior

Seniors are particularly prone to foot problems. As feet age, they tend to lose cushioning, and with time or neglect, skin and nails become more dry and brittle. To avoid painful foot conditions and to maintain mobility, seniors should be wary of these possible foot problems and take extra care to prevent and treat them.

Corns and calluses

A callus forms when friction, pressure, or irritation causes a section of skin to become thick and tough. Calluses are generally not harmful and are often caused by frequent walking. A corn is a type of callus that usually forms on a hairless and smooth part of the skin, typically between toes and fingers. Corns are smaller than calluses and have a hard center that’s surrounded by inflamed skin. Unlike calluses, corns can be painful when pressed. If they become inflamed or painful, you should seek medical advice from a doctor who may recommend a cream or trimming and removing the corn. To prevent corns and calluses, you should wash your feet daily with soap, water, and a scrub brush. You should also use moisturizing foot cream to prevent dry skin.


Warts result from an infection in the top layer of skin typically caused when a virus invades the outer layer through a cut or scratch. The virus causes a rapid growth of cells on the skin, creating a wart. Since warts often enter through cuts in the skin, you should avoid cuts as much as possible by shaving carefully and not trimming your nails too short. You should also avoid ripping off hangnails and always clean gym equipment before using it.


When the pressure of carrying and shifting your weight falls unevenly on your foot joints and tendons, a bunion forms on the outside of your foot. The imbalance in pressure causes your big toe joint to become unstable and eventually molds that area of your joint into a hard knob. High heels, ill-fitting shoes, arthritis, and heredity can all contribute to this condition, and once a bunion forms, it’s permanent unless surgically corrected. To prevent bunions, you should use well-fitted shoes that balance your weight evenly.

Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are a common condition that occurs when the corner or side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh beside it. Ingrown toenails cause pain, swelling, and sometimes infection. They typically happen due to poor footwear that crowds the toes, after a toenail injury, when toenails are unusually curved, or when toenails are clipped too short or not straight across. To prevent this, you should always trim your toenails straight across or ask your pedicurist to do so. Wear shoes that don’t pinch the toes, and regularly check your feet for ingrown toenails.


Also known as pinched nerve or nerve tumor, neuroma is a benign growth of nerve tissue that is typically found between the third and fourth toes. Neuroma can cause tingling, pain, a burning sensation, or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot. To avoid neuromas, wear shoes with plenty of toe room. If you think you have a neuroma, you should talk with a podiatrist as soon as possible to keep the condition from getting worse.


Heel spurs form when calcium deposits in the heel cause a bony protrusion on the underside of the bone. This protrusion can extend as much as half an inch causing a knife-like pain. If you have heel spurs and your pain persists, you should talk with a doctor who may recommend stretching exercises, different types of shoes, taping or strapping, or physical therapy. Most heal spurs are relieved through these methods, though some require surgery. Using shoes with shock absorbent soles, rigid shanks, and supportive heel counters can help to prevent heel spurs.


Lost mobility can be one of the most frustrating results of aging. Taking these steps to care for your feet as you grow older is one of the simplest ways to keep your feet healthy and ensure that you keep moving pain free through all stages of life.