Small, but Mighty: Taking Care of Your Toes

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They are small but essential. Your toes play an important part in helping you keep your balance and are in contact with the ground 75% of the time while walking. You may not realize it, but your big toes can bear twice as much weight as all your other toes combined.

Unfortunately, your toes are vulnerable to injury and skin issues. Here are some of the more common toe problems:

Athlete’s foot

This fungal infection is usually found between the toes but can spread quickly to other spots. The fungus is very contagious and thrives in warm, damp places such as public showers, gyms or spas. Symptoms include itching, blistering, and peeling skin. Come see us for prescription medication if the condition persists.

Bunions

If you have pain, a visible bump on the side of your foot or tenderness around the big toe joint, then you may have a bunion that causes your big toe to turn inward and push against the other toes. Wearing narrow shoes and high heels, along with a family history, increase your risk of bunions. You can relieve the pressure on the bunion by wearing shoes with a wide toe box and low heels. Contact us to discuss conservative measures as well as a surgical solution to relieve the pain.   

Fungal nail

A fungal infection under the nail will cause discolored, brittle, loose, or thickened nails. This fungus is contagious so always protect your feet when in public gyms, pools and locker rooms. Keep feet clean and dry and wear shoes of breathable materials such as leather and canvas. If toenail fungus persists, topical or oral prescription medication will help, as will debridement of the infected nail substance.

Hammertoe

Hammertoes may be inherited and result from a muscle and tendon imbalance in the toe, resulting in a bent toe joint. The skin may be irritated where rubbing against your shoes. Wearing shoes with a wide and high toe box can relieve any discomfort. Surgery may be necessary for permanent relief.

Ingrown toenail

An ingrown nail causes swelling, pain, and even drainage from the nail. Ingrown toenails are caused by wearing poorly-fitting shoes that are too tight or too narrow or by curving the corners when trimming the nails. Always wear shoes that fit well and are not narrow at the toes, as well as cutting the nail straight across. Your podiatrist may need to remove a portion of the toenail for it to heal completely.

If you are experiencing abnormal foot discomfort or pain, schedule an appointment with us and will help you discuss treatment options.

Foot Care for Aging Feet

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Our hardworking feet still have a long way to take us! As we age, it’s very important to take good care of your feet to avoid serious health issues.

Now more than ever it’s important to pay attention to foot care – especially if you have any pre-existing health issues such as diabetes. Don’t ignore foot pain, or even a small bump or discolored area

Foot Care Tips for Aging Feet

  • Visit us once a year for a thorough foot exam. If you have diabetes, we recommend a foot check-up every six months.

  • Inspect your feet every day. Look for anything unusual or any sign of injury. Use a mirror to see the bottoms. Call us right away if you notice anything suspicious.

  • Stay active – with your doctor’s permission – to keep your circulation going and manage your weight.

  • Wash your feet every day and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes. Apply a rich foot lotion to keep your skin supple.

  • Avoid going barefoot. Stick with well-fitting and supportive shoes. Choose those with wide toe boxes for plenty of wiggle room. Stay away from flimsy shoes and flip-flops that are tripping hazards and have little support.

  • Your skin is more fragile and susceptible to burns and irritation from chemicals, so avoid over-the-counter products to remove calluses and corns and to treat fungal nail.

  • Trim nails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails. We will be happy to trim your nails if you find it difficult.

Give your feet some TLC now so little problems don't grow into serious ones. Contact one of our offices to set up an appointment for your foot exam today.

 

It’s Important to Treat Dry Skin on Your Feet

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Dry skin on the feet is a very common problem and is more than a cosmetic issue. Excessively dry skin may cause cracks, or skin fissures, on the heels or soles. Along with being unsightly, this condition can cause itching, pain, a rash or even an infection.

Heat and humidity changes such as indoor heating in colder locations can cause water loss from the skin and may thicken the top layer. Some soaps can also remove the skin’s protective oils.

Aging brings metabolic and hormonal changes that cause reduced cell turnover and skin thickening. As we age, the fat pad on the bottom of the foot thins, resulting in thicker, drier cracked skin.

Some skin conditions such as athlete’s foot, psoriasis, and rashes caused by an allergy can produce thick and dry skin on the foot, as can diabetes, hypothyroidism, and certain vitamin or fatty acid deficiencies.

Treating Dry Skin on the Feet

If you have tried applying creams and lotions to your dry skin and the problem persists, give us a call. We can help identify the cause of your dry skin and prescribe special creams for severely dry skin if necessary.

To prevent a recurrence of excessively dry skin on your feet:

  • Apply lanolin which you can find over-the-counter.

  • Switch to hypoallergenic skin products or those that are formulated for sensitive skin.

  • After bathing, use a foot file or pumice stone on rough areas on the soles of your feet to prevent calluses. Use a loofah sponge for the top of the foot.

  • Increase your intake of essential fatty acids by adding walnuts, canola oil, and flaxseed oil to your diet.

Other supplements can also help, with the approval of your doctor.

If you are experiencing foot pain, or notice any kind of rash or irritation, visit one of our offices and let us take a look. Contact us to set up your appointment.

 

 

6 Tips to Help Prevent Skin Cancer in Your Feet

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One of the last places that we think of when applying sunscreen is our feet. But our feet are vulnerable to skin cancer just like the rest of our bodies, even under the toenails and on the soles!  

Other factors besides sun exposure can cause skin cancer such as genetics, chronic ulceration, environmental factors such as chemical burns and viral infections such as HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and can appear on the tops of the feet, the soles and under a toenail. This cancer digs deeper and can eventually reach the blood vessels and lymph system to spread within the body.  

Melanomas can take many varied forms and appearances. Look for a spot that is larger than one-quarter of an inch with unusual colors, like pink or red, and uneven borders. This type of cancer can masquerade as an ingrown nail, bruise, plantar wart, ulcer or a blood blister.

6 Tips to Prevent Skin Cancer

  1. Early detection is very important and can even save your life. Inspect your skin – including your feet – for any irregularity. Aim for a careful examination once a month and use a mirror to see difficult spots such as the bottoms of your feet. If you notice anything unusual, give us a call.

  2. Wear a sunscreen of SPF 30 or more when out of doors, and don’t forget to apply to feet, ankles and even between the toes.

  3. Reapply sunscreen after sweating or swimming.

  4. Wear UV-absorbent sunglasses.

  5. Avoid picking up viruses by covering your feet in public places like pools, spas, locker rooms, and gyms.

  6. Avoid over exposure to the sun when its rays are most intense – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  

If you have any questionable spots, marks or foot discomfort, come visit us. We can help answer your questions.