college foot health

College Students: Your Complete Foot Health Guide

Written by: Tao Schencks - Updated

As you strut down the hallway while making your triumphant return back to school, there are a lot of things that can slow you down.

From trying to avoid eye contact with your crush to trying to make it to class on time… 

If you’re going to let anything slow you down, don’t let it be foot pain.

I have put together this guide to common foot issues and how to deal with them from a student’s perspective.

First things first, let’s start off with some general foot care advice that is good to keep in mind, even when nothing is wrong. 

5 Ways To Avoid Common Foot Problems

1. Keep an extra set of socks in your locker.

If your feet get wet from stepping in a puddle, or it’s a particularly taxing gym class, you don’t want to spend the rest of your day with your feet marinating in a pair of damp socks.

It’s a good way to get an infection or a fungus like Athlete’s Foot (which we’ll discuss more near the end of this guide.)

2. Choose shoes that fit right.

It’s tempting to pick out shoes just because they look cool, but if they hurt your feet or don’t fit right, it’s not worth the style points.

When you’re in your shoes all day, it’s important to have a comfortable pair.

Shoes that are breathable are good, especially for long days where you’re going to be wearing them for 10, or even 12+ hours straight, sometimes even longer for students who are busy after school.

3. Listen to your body.

Stress, walking around campus all day, extracurricular activities… it can all take a toll on your body.

When your feet are achy and sore, it’s not always a symptom of something more serious.

Sometimes, it just means you’ve been working a bit too hard, or spending too much time on your feet.

Try to find some time to just relax, soak your feet in some warm water, and give yourself a chance to heal. 

4. Have good hygiene.

How many college kids out there subscribe to the idea that you don’t need to purposefully wash your feet in your shower?

If you think that the soap that runs down the rest of your body and washes over your feet is enough to clean them, think again. You need a good scrub.

We get it, you’re busy and probably have another game of Fortnite to play (or study to do) but this is important.

Another good thing to do is to moisturize your feet after you get out of the shower, before putting your socks on. Vaseline lotion works good enough, but there are a lot of other brands you can try.

5. Stinky shoes.

If your shoes are starting to reek then try sprinkling some baking powder inside, letting it sit for a day or two, and then vacuuming or dumping it out.

This should help with the odor, if not completely remove it.

It’ll help a lot more than something like Febreeze, which will just cover up the smell temporarily. 

Common Foot Problems that Students Experience

This isn’t an exhaustive guide of everything that can go wrong with your feet, but let’s cover the basics. If you are experiencing pain, it’s a good idea to pay a visit to your school nurse, your podiatrist or your family doctor.

Blisters

Blisters come in different shapes and sizes, and they aren’t all created equal.

One thing to keep in mind is that the blister is there to keep the underlying skin clean, so it’s usually not a good idea to try to pop or puncture it. It can get infected, and get very nasty. 

Here’s how WebMD recommends treating a blister that has already popped:

  1. Wash it with warm water and soap. Choose a soap that is gentle. Don’t use alcohol, peroxide, or iodine. Just water and soap.
  2. Don’t rip off the little piece of skin that’s left after the blister is drained. Instead, just flatten it down smoothly.
  3. Apply an antibiotic ointment around the blister.
  4. Use gauze or a bandage to cover the area.

Verrucas (Plantar Warts)

Warts aren’t all that uncommon, most people will experience them at some point in their lives. Verrucas, in particular, will appear on your feet and will have an outer layer of hard skin, with a visible black dot inside of them.

How to deal with verrucas.

  1. Keep the area very clean.
  2. Some people like to file it down a bit.
  3. Apply a cream that lists salicylic acid as an ingredient.
  4. Bandage it up.
  5. Take the bandage off daily to wash the area with soap and warm water, re-apply the cream, and repeat.

Often times, a verruca will go away on its own. In the meantime, you can get little cushioned donuts for your shoes to alleviate pressure on the verruca.

Don’t forget – they can be easily spread in the gym locker room or shower.  So please think of your fellow students!  Sometimes, sharing is NOT caring!

Please note: If you’re ever concerned with a growth on your skin that you can’t identify, it’s a good idea to go see a doctor. Chances are it’s not something serious, but if it is, you’re better off knowing as soon as possible. 

Athlete’s Foot

This fungal infection is no fun, and it can really slow you down. You can get it from wearing shoes for too long and having sweaty feet.

This is extra common among students, especially when you’re going from a hard gym glass to sitting around for the rest of the day.

Having breathable shoes that don’t leave your feet feeling hot all day is a good first step to take in prevention, and keeping a change of socks with you isn’t the worst idea either.

It manifests itself with a red colored itch, and often starts right in between your toes and works its way outwards. Also, be careful if you’re trying on anyone else’s shoes (don’t do it!) because that’s a good way to catch or spread Athlete’s Foot.

You can get creams to help treat it over the counter, but it’ll likely come back if you don’t change up your hygienic habits.

The fungus that causes athlete’s foot can also spread to your hands, it can get under your nails, and can even turn into jock itch so make sure you’re staying very clean. 

Plantar Fasciitis

Feeling some pain in your heel? There’s a good chance it’s caused by plantar fasciitis.

It can feel like a sharp, stabbing pain in the heel. It’s common in both runners and athletic people, along with those who are overweight.

It’ll often feel a lot worse in the morning, until you’ve had a chance to stretch it out a bit and get the blood flowing.

If you’re on your feet too much, overweight, or a bit older in age, these are all risk factors that’ll make you more likely to experience this pain. Still, it’s not all that rare for students to feel it, especially if you’re active and out and about all day.

Ibuprofen (Advil) is something people will use to help deal with the pain, and if it persists then you may want to consider physical therapy.

You may also want to look at finding shoes that offer better support or more cushioning.

You can read all about Plantar Fasciitis in our ultimate guide page.

Final Thoughts

You’ve got enough on your mind during the school year, so take some simple preventative measures to ensure that your feet aren’t causing you any trouble.

    Tao
     

    Hi, my name is Tao and I suffer from Plantar Fasciitis in both of my feet. My goal is to share information, tips, symptoms, exercises and remedies on this website for others. I am not a doctor or podiatrist, so make sure to read my medical disclaimer page.

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