When you have a foot problem, it seems your whole world revolves around the discomfort. Fortunately, many foot and ankle issues have straightforward solutions. What follows is more information about common foot problems and how your podiatrist may recommend treating them.
The scientific name for this common fungal infection is tinea pedis. Characterised by itching, skin cracking, and sometimes even bleeding between the toes and on the bottom of the feet.
As is true of most fungal infections, moist environments are a breeding ground for athlete’s foot. Many people develop the infection from wearing damp sneakers, wet socks, and exposure from heavily tracked showers at the gym or near swimming pools.
Highly contagious and often stubborn to treat, athlete’s foot is treated with anti-fungal medication. If over-the-counter products don’t work, you may require stronger topical or oral anti-fungal medication that your podiatrist can prescribe.
Athlete’s foot can be managed with excellent personal hygiene habits, including:
- Wearing clean, dry socks everyday and changing your socks right after sweaty workouts
- Alternating your footwear
- Washing and drying your feet thoroughly every day, particularly between the toes
- Not sharing towels and clothing with other people
A bunion appears to bea pronounced bony bump along the inner side of the foot, near the base of the big toe. It can cause pain, swelling, and redness, which worsens when wearing shoes and walking. It most often occurs in middle-aged and older women.
The bump of a bunion is caused by the big toe turning, over time, toward the second toe. This movement – really, it’s bone displacement of the big toe– causes the base of the big toe to protrude outward, appearing as a bunion.
To treat a bunion, your foot doctor may recommend a change in footwear to shoes with wide toe boxes and lower heels. Also, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)can help reduce pain and inflammation from bunions. Adhesive cushions and shoe inserts may help relieve pressure and discomfort associated with a bunion.
In extreme cases, your podiatrist may advise a surgical procedure called a bunionectomy. This surgery may involve different techniques, but all involve removing excess tissue and straightening the affected joint.
Ingrown toenails occur most often on the big toe, with the toenail intrudes into the skin at the side of the toenail. This causes pain, swelling, redness and can sometimes lead to infection.
Causes of this very common foot problem are tight shoes, frequent running, your genetic toe structure, and cutting toenails too short or rounding them at the corners. Sometimes athlete’s foot can lead to an ingrown toenail.
Your foot doctor may remove an ingrown toenail in part or in its entirety. If infected, you may require antibiotics as well.
Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are areas of hardened, dry skin that commonly develop on the soles of the feet and on the toes. Shoe friction is often the culprit, particularly with high-heeled, pointy-toed shoes. Sometimes, poorly fitting socks may rub against the skin, causing a callus or corn to develop in an effort to protect the abraded area.
Many over-the-counter medications in the form of tinctures or pads can help gradually dissolve corns and calluses. Also, your podiatrist may remove the offending skin with a quick and simple, in-office procedure. To avoid infection, please do not remove corns or calluses with pedicure tools at home – especially if you are diabetic or have impaired circulation to your legs.
Persistent high blood sugar levels impairs both nerve and blood vessel function throughout the body, including the lower extremities. This means you may not feel a wound on your foot until it has become infected. Also, impaired blood circulation makes wound healing in the feet extremely difficult.
Sadly, too many people with poorly controlled diabetes may require an amputation of the toes, feet, and more to stop the spread of life-threatening infection due to non healing wounds. According to experts at the Cleveland Clinic, as many as 25% of diabetics in the U.S. who develop a foot wound will require some degree of amputation.
Prevention and early treatment are the primary protections against diabetic foot wounds and their life-threatening complications.
If you or a loved one has diabetes, regular visits to the podiatrist are imperative. And, if signs of a foot problem develop in between your regular visits to the doctor, make an appointment to see your podiatrist as soon as possible. Foot infections can progress devastatingly quickly in diabetics.
To help prevent foot wounds, you should:
- Control your blood sugar levels
- Inspect your feet daily for bruising, cuts, and signs of friction
- Wash and dry your feet daily, and apply a moisturizer
- Always wear clean socks and well-fitting shoes
- Trim your nails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails (or have your foot doctor trim them)
- Wear well-fitting supportive shoes–even in the house–to protect your feet from injury
Excellent Podiatry Services at Advanced Bone & Joint in St. Charles County, MO
The medical team at Advanced Bone & Joint, with offices in St. Peters, O’Fallon, and Wentzville, Missouri, encourages you to take the best possible care of your feet and ankles, and we’re here to help you do just that.
If you’d like a consultation with a friendly, well-qualified podiatrist in the St. Charles County area of Missouri, please call (636)229-4222 for an appointment with Dr. Anthony Lombardo. Or you may request an appointment now, using our convenient online form.