Airport worker health and safety managementAviation safety workwear and uniform design

Best foot forward – foot problems and how to resolve them

Best foot forward – foot problems and how to resolve them

Working long hours on the airport tarmac can be hard-going on feet. Seemingly minor foot problems, such as blisters, corns and Athlete’s Foot, can quickly worsen if they’re not tackled early. Airside staff can avoid the most common foot problems by always ensuring they are wearing the correct footwear.


Badly fitting shoes can cause your big toe to push up against the next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and cause a painful bunion. Although they can also be caused by inherited structural defects or conditions such as arthritis, bunions are often the result of wearing the wrong footwear. The shoes you wear airside should be well-fitting, with sufficient space between the tip of your longest toe (not always the big toe) and the end of the shoe. If you can feel any part of your foot being squashed or pressed, you need to change your footwear.

Calluses and corns

It’s not just bunions that can appear as a result of poorly fitting shoes. Calluses and corns are hard spots of skin that appear on the toes and other areas of the feet when too much friction occurs. Although they’re not always painful to start with, calluses can eventually become very uncomfortable. To avoid them, shoes, boots and socks should allow good airflow, for example the WEARMASTER® Kentucky Metal Free Boot featuring a breathable, padded moisture management lining. And while you might always buy the same size shoes (and probably have done for years), you should check your size every time you buy a new pair, as you may be different sizes in different styles and brands. Always measure both feet and buy for the larger foot.

Pernio or chilblains

Snow can be disruptive to airports and airside workers certainly don’t get to escape inside when temperatures drop. Feet need proper protection against cold weather to avoid conditions like pernio, also known as chilblains, that is brought on by over-exposure to low temperatures. Pernio causes skin lesions from damage to small blood vessels caused by cold exposure, appearing as red, puffy areas of skin that can be painful and itchy. To avoid pernio, look for winter safety footwear with a CI classification that shows they’re insulated against cold.

Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails, when the sides of a toenail grow into the surrounding skin and pierces it, can be very painful. Sometimes, ingrown toenails need surgery to correct them, so preventing them is imperative. Keeping feet clean by washing them regularly with soap and water, changing your socks regularly and cutting your toenails straight across to stop them digging into the surrounding skin all help. Wearing comfortable safety shoes that suit your working conditions and fit properly can minimise the risk of ingrown toenails too.


Hammertoe and mallet toe are deformities that occur because of an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments in the foot. To avoid hammertoe, there needs to be adequate toe room in your shoes. Laced or strapped shoes are recommended as they’re roomier and can be adjusted for the best fit. When buying new work footwear always do so at the end of the day to get the best fit, because your feet swell throughout the day.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s Foot is a common fungal infection. It can appear as itchy white patches between the toes, or red and sore patches on your feet. It is treated using creams, powders or sprays from a pharmacy but can be easily avoided. Drying your feet thoroughly after washing them (particularly between your toes) and wearing clean, cotton socks both help. Choosing boots and shoes made from good quality, full grain leather, helps breathability and airflow inside the footwear.


Blisters are painful, fluid-filled lesions caused by pressure and friction. Repeated rubbing of badly fitting shoes is often the cause. Blisters develop very quickly and can take several days to heal, or longer if a blister breaks open and becomes infected. Ensure your feet are well protected against blisters by choosing well-fitting footwear and socks.

Contego Aviation Solutions is your one-stop manufacturer, supplier and distributor of safety clothing and PPE equipment for the aviation industry and more. As part of Contego Safety Solutions, Contego Aviation Solutions is the aviation industry protective clothing and equipment supplier that can offer it all.

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