People with foot irritations, ingrown toenails, leg pains and bone abnormalities could trace their problems to wearing improper footwear.

Students like Lauren Steinberg (junior-public relations), who walks up to a couple miles each day to and from campus, relies on comfortable shoes.

"I live on Atherton (Street), and I have class in Thomas (Building)," she said. "So I wear sneakers because they are comfortable."

Without the proper footwear, students could experience pain in their feet and lower body, said Dr. Thomas Mollo, a podiatrist at Centre Footcare, 251 Easterly Pkwy.

The foot is the basic support of the body. If the feet are not properly supported, the body could suffer from a variety of pains, he said.

While improper footwear causes pain ranging from the ankle to knee, some people also feel pain in the hip flexors or the lower back, said Jason Sincavage, assistant manager at Rapid Transit Sports, 155 S. Allen St.

Some people also suffer from plantarfascitis, which occurs when the tendon in the arch begins to stretch or tear, he added.

"Most people — about 80 percent to 90 percent — pronate, which means you roll the foot in," Sincavage said. "It is important to have a shoe that is filled in under the base to prevent the foot from rolling."

When looking for the right shoes, Sincavage recommends finding one that fits mechanically. In other words, it should work with the shape of the foot.

For example, everyone strikes the ground with a different part of the foot, he said. If a person is a heal striker, then he should look for a shoe with a stiff, sturdy heel.

Possible relief of foot pain varies depending on the problem. However, many forms of therapy are available.

People suffering from minor foot pain can seek relief through a form of massage called reflexology. The method uses finger pressure to relieve the pain and stress in the foot, said Kelli Musser, a massage therapist at Family Health Services Inc., 426 S. Allen St.

Aside from massage therapy, other forms of treatment can also help relieve foot pain.

"I massage feet, and sometimes I use a special cream that breaks up calluses and gets rid of dry skin," Musser said.

And although some might consider it simply a way to beautify feet, pedicures are another form of foot care. Pedicures relax the body and increase blood circulation, said Mary Woomer, a hairstylist at That Special Touch, 10 Vairo Blvd.

Steinberg is just one student who takes advantage of pedicures to take care of her feet.

"I like to pamper my feet," said Steinberg, adding her pedicures consist of a moisturizing and exfoliating treatment that removes dead cells.

Soaking feet in warm water after a long day also could treat minor problems such as blistering or dermatitis, the inflammation or infection of the skin on the foot, Mollo said.

However, more serious foot problems could require professional treatment, Mollo added. These problems include severe pain, bunions or structural deformities caused by wearing shoes that fit incorrectly.