Posts for category: Foot Care
Treating toenail fungus
Toenail fungus--it's one of the most common podiatric problems children, teens, and adults have. Causing thickened, yellow, brittle nails, onychomycosis (the medical name for toenail fungus) spreads easily and can be stubborn to treat. If you see one or more of your toenails changing shape, color, and texture, see your foot doctor right away. They have the expertise and treatments to give you ten clear toenails once again.
How toenail fungus starts
The micro-organism thrives in dark, moist environments--sweaty socks and sneakers being prime candidates. Additionally, shared towels, nail clippers, shower room floors, and pool decks breed toenail and Athlete's Foot fungus. In fact, if you suffer periodic outbreaks of itchy, uncomfortable Athlete's Foot, you're more prone to onychomycosis, says the American Academy of Dermatology.
Conquering toenail fungus
Your foot doctor sees scores of patients with toenail fungus. Visual inspection is the main diagnostic tool, and for mild cases of onychomycosis, the podiatrist may recommend creams or ointments applied topically. Oral medications are an option as well.
Additionally, modern podiatry offers innovative laser treatments which kill the micro-organism right where it lives. Painless and very effective, laser treatments are applied to all ten toenails to prevent re-infection.
Unfortunately, toenail fungal infections can become quite severe and spread to the nail bed. When infection is severe, the podiatrist may advise complete removal of the toenail to prevent further problems.
Prevention is best
Of course, if you can avoid toenail fungus, your feet and nails will look and feel their best, and you won't be embarrassed to wear open-toed shoes or sandals in the warm weather. However, some people are more prone to this common infection--diabetics, those with poor peripheral circulation and individuals who are immunosuppressed.
Regardless, your podiatrist recommends these preventive measures for healthy, fungus-free nails:
- Wash your feet with soap and water daily, and dry them with a clean towel.
- Clip your toenails straight across with a clean clippers.
- Wear clean socks daily.
- Change your gym shoes after a workout. In fact, alternate pairs if possible, letting your footwear dry out between wearings.
- Wear flip-flops or shower sandals in the locker room and poolside, too.
Have you been experiencing any heel pain or bothersome tenderness without any obvious cause? Although heel spurs themselves sometimes do not cause acute discomfort, they are frequently associated with the painful inflammation known as plantar fasciitis, a condition commonly described as feeling like a knife is wrenching through your foot. Read below for more information on the typical causes, symptoms, and treatments of heel spurs.
What is a Heel Spur?
A heel spur is often the result of overstraining foot muscles and ligaments, overstretching the plantar fascia (the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes), and repeatedly tearing the heel bone membrane. From these actions arises a calcium deposit on the underside of the heel bone. Risk factor for developing the condition include:
Possessing any walking gait abnormalities
Regularly running or jogging on hard surfaces
Wearing poorly fitted or overly worn shoes
Wearing shoes that lack arch support
Being excessively overweight or obese
What are The Symptoms?
Heel spurs do not carry many symptoms by themselves. However, they are often related to other afflictions, most typically plantar fasciitis. The most common sign of this combo of conditions is a feeling of chronic pain along the bottom or back of the heel, especially during periods of walking, running, or jogging. If you are experiencing this recurring inflammation, it is a good idea to visit your local podiatrist's office and inquire about undergoing an x-ray or ultrasound examination of the foot.
What are the Treatment Options?
The solutions to heel spurs are generally centered around decreasing inflammation and avoiding re-injury. They include:
Applying ice on the inflammation
Performing stretch exercises
Wearing orthotic devices or shoe inserts to relieve pressure off of the spur
Taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen to relieve pain
In extreme cases, surgery can be performed on chronically inflamed spurs
If you are dealing with symptoms of heel spurs or pain in your feet, turn to a podiatrist so that we can get you back on your feet. Don't ignore your pain.
Arthritis is a joint condition that affects roughly 54 million American adults according to the Arthritis Foundation. It can show up in joints all around the body, including the feet and toes. When the joints of the feet are affected by inflammation, it affects a patient’s ability to move their toes, bend their feet up or down, and turn on a dime when participating in athletic activities. Learn the steps that you can take to care for arthritic feet and improve your overall foot health.
Arthritis in the Feet
Arthritic joint pain, which is usually caused by an inflammatory reaction, is most commonly felt in the big toe, ankle, and the middle part of the foot. There are many different types of arthritis conditions that could affect the feet, including psoriatic, reactive, and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form—it is caused by the bones rubbing together, making the joints feel stiff and painful. Patients who are overweight are more likely to struggle with arthritic feet, as are seniors. Some people have had arthritis since childhood (juvenile arthritis or JA), making them more likely to develop foot deformities like bunions and struggle with swollen joints.
Though arthritis isn’t a curable condition, the symptoms can be eased with treatment so that you can continue to walk, jog, exercise, and work without debilitating pain. These are some of the ways your podiatrist may treat arthritis in the feet:
- An X-ray or other imaging test to examine the condition of the joints.
- Physical therapy exercises to make the joints more flexible.
- Orthotic device or shoe for better foot support.
- Joint injections (corticosteroids).
- NSAID drugs (anti-inflammatories).
- Surgery to remove inflamed tissue around the joints (Arthroscopic debridement) or fuse the bones (arthrodesis).
Caring for Your Feet
Seeing a foot doctor is an important part of caring for arthritic feet. But there are also some actions you can take at home to keep your feet and joints in good condition:
- Get rid of shoes that put too much pressure on your joints, like high heels or sneakers that don’t support the ankles.
- Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt and massage your feet when relaxing.
- Commit to doing the toe and foot exercises suggested by your podiatrist.
Treating Arthritic Feet
Arthritic feet shouldn't prevent you from carrying on with normal life and physical activities. Get help from a podiatrist as soon as you start to experience symptoms and take extra steps to care for your feet.
A foot blister is a small pocket of fluid that forms on the foot. Blisters can be painful while they heal. Foot blisters are caused by several things, including friction, burns, contact with irritants, and autoimmune diseases. Treatment can alleviate your pain, prevent infection, and help heal your blister. Here's what to do when you keep getting blisters on your feet.
1. See a podiatrist- When foot blisters interfere with your normal activities, you should see a podiatrist. Podiatrists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, including blisters. Depending on the cause of the foot blister, your podiatrist will form a treatment plan for you.
2. Cover your blisters- If a blister does occur, do not pop it. A blister should be covered to reduce irritation and cut back on the risk of infection. Wash your blisters with soap and water and cover them with dressings, like bandages or gauze pads. Your dressings should be changed every day.
3. Use antibiotic ointment- Antibiotic ointment helps prevent infections in blisters. You can purchase antibiotic ointment at a local pharmacy. Apply antibiotic ointment to the foot blisters as directed, especially before you put on your socks or shoes.
4. Keep your feet dry- Keep your feet dry at all times. After you shower, dry your feet thoroughly. Wear socks every day to keep moisture away from the skin of your feet. For sweaty feet, use products that help control moisture.
5. Use custom orthotics- Orthotic devices are molded pieces of rubber, leather, or other material that are inserted into shoes. You can get custom-made orthotic devices from your podiatrist. Orthotic devices can be helpful in preventing and treating foot blisters. Orthotic devices can reduce friction on foot blisters and alleviate your pain.
6. Wear the right shoes- Rubbing and pressure from shoes that are too tight often cause blisters on the feet. Avoid wearing shoes that cause foot blisters. Wear good-fitting footwear that fit comfortably and leave your feet with some wiggle room, especially on long walks or runs. Wearing the right footwear can prevent future blisters.
7. Use foot powders- Friction can make foot blisters worse and increase your pain. In order to reduce friction on blisters, buy a powder designed for your feet at a pharmacy. Pour it into your socks before putting on your shoes to reduce pain. If a powder causes your foot blisters to become irritated, stop using it.
Don't let foot blisters knock you off your feet. Find a podiatrist in your area and schedule an appointment. A podiatrist can help you get rid of those foot blisters once and for all. The journey to healthy feet starts with you!
When most people think about foot deformities they most often think about bunions; however, hammertoes are just as common. This unassuming deformity comes about gradually, so you may not even notice it until it’s too late. “What is a hammertoe?” You might be wondering. A hammertoe affects the middle joint of a toe (often the smaller toes), causing the toe to bend downward. In severe cases, a hammertoe will look almost claw-like.
There are two kinds of hammertoes: flexible and rigid. As you might imagine, a flexible hammertoe is one in which you can still straighten the toe out. If you aren’t able to straighten the affected toe then this is a rigid hammertoe. A flexible hammertoe isn’t as serious as a rigid one; however, it’s important that you take care of your hammertoe to make sure that it doesn’t get worse.
While there is no way to cure a hammertoe there are simple measures you can take to prevent it from progressing. First and foremost, you need to take a look at the shoes you are wearing and make sure that they aren’t too tight. When you slip your feet into your shoes, does it cause your toes to bunch up against one another? If so then this could make your hammertoe worse.
Instead, opt for shoes with an ample toe box, which will allow your toes to wiggle and move around freely. If you have a structural imbalance within the foot this can leave you prone to foot problems such as hammertoes and bunions. To correct this imbalance, talk to your foot doctor about getting custom orthotics (shoe inserts), which can be placed into your shoes to help provide cushioning, support, and shock absorption for your feet.
If pain or stiffness does rear its ugly head you can choose to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen, which can tackle both pain and inflammation in one fell swoop, or you can place a towel-wrapped ice pack (never put ice directly on the skin, as it can cause severe burns) over the area for several minutes.
Just as you can buy pads to cover a bunion or callus, you can also buy a non-medicated protective pad to cover over a hammertoe. Since the deformed toe joint juts out this can leave the toe prone to calluses, which can cause pain when wearing shoes. To prevent a callus from forming, you can apply a protective pad over the deformed toe joint before putting on shoes.
Of course, if you are dealing with significant or frequent pain, or if the hammertoe is rigid, then you will want to turn to a podiatric specialist. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to correct the disfigured joint.
What is a Bunion?
What Causes Bunions?
How a Podiatrist Can Help
Prevention is Key
During pregnancy, it's not uncommon for women to experience an array of aches and pains all over the body. Among these complaints are tired, swollen, achy feet - a common and painful symptom experienced by mothers-to-be during their nine months of pregnancy.
One of the most common foot problems to occur during pregnancy is swelling, or edema, which results from an extra accumulation of blood. The natural weight gain and enlarging uterus puts pressure on the veins that lead to the legs, causing circulation to slow down and increasing fluid retention. The legs and feet may become swollen, making shoes tight, and in some cases causing pain and discomfort. Slight swelling during pregnancy is normal and usually subsides after giving birth. Women should pay close attention to edema symptoms. Swelling to the face or a sudden onset of swelling could be a sign of a more serious condition called preeclampsia and should be reported immediately.
Another troubling foot problem that can occur during pregnancy is over-pronation (flat feet) which is caused when a person's arch flattens out upon weight bearing causing the feet to turn in abnormally. This condition develops when the dense band of tissue in the arch of the foot called the plantar fascia becomes strained and inflamed due to increased flattening of the feet. Over-pronation is common in pregnancy due to the increased weight gain which stresses the feet and flattens the arches. Walking can become very painful, and women may experience increased discomfort and strain on the feet, calves and back.
There are various remedies available to help minimize and alleviate foot pain during pregnancy.
- Take short breaks during the day and elevate your feet to relieve pressure and swelling.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Wear shoes that are soft, comfortable and give your feet room to move.
- Wear seamless socks that do not constrict circulation.
- Exercise or walk regularly to promote overall health.
- Stretch legs frequently and avoid crossing your legs when sitting.
- To prevent arch pain, stretch daily, avoid going barefoot and wear supportive low-heeled shoes.
When foot pain persists, visit your podiatrist. We'll work with you to find the best treatments for your foot pain. Pregnancy and pending motherhood should be a pleasant, enjoyable experience. Understanding the causes of foot pain and learning easy home remedies can help women step more comfortably throughout these special nine months.
Plantar warts are benign growths that develop on the bottom of your feet, and are caused by direct contact with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes warts on other areas of the body. Some people are more susceptible than others to HPV, and not everyone will develop plantar warts if they come into contact with the virus. Individuals with weak immune systems or damaged skin on the feet are at a higher risk for plantar warts.
Plantar warts most often develop on the weight-bearing areas of the foot - the heel or the ball of the foot - causing sharp, burning pain. They can appear as a single wart (solitary) or a cluster of warts (mosaic). Common symptoms may include:
- Pain or discomfort when walking or standing
- Thick, scaly skin that often resembles a callus
- Hard, flat growths with well-defined boundaries
- Tiny black specks (clotted blood vessels) that often appear on the surface of the wart
Most warts disappear with home care and do not require medical treatment. You can take steps to prevent and treat plantar warts, which include:
- Changing your shoes and socks daily
- Keeping your feet clean and dry
- Avoid picking at warts as the virus may spread
- Avoid direct contact with an individual who has plantar warts
- Checking your child's feet periodically
- Refrain from walking barefoot, especially in public areas like showers, swimming pools and locker rooms
- Never ignore skin growths or changes in your skin
You should always seek care from a podiatrist when warts interfere with your daily life, aren't responding to home treatments, or if you have circulatory disorders. Contact us if your warts:
- Change color or shape
- Cause unbearable pain and discomfort
- Interfere with activities
- Multiply or reappear
Without treatment, plantar warts can grow, spread and prompt new warts to grow as fast as the old ones disappear. If you can't confidently identify a growth on your foot, visit your podiatrist to ensure a correct diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment can decrease the risk of the wart spreading and multiplying.
Heel pain is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the long, dense band of connective tissue (the plantar fascia) that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot.
Repeated strain on the plantar fascia can cause tiny tears in the ligament. As tension and tearing increases, so does inflammation and irritation of the affected area. Risk factors of plantar fasciitis include foot arch problems (flat foot and high arches); excess weight; running; and a tight Achilles tendon.
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is gradually developing pain on the bottom of the heel. The pain is usually worst in the morning and after sitting or standing for a long period of time. For some, the pain subsides after walking or stretching.
To reduce pain associated with plantar fasciitis:
- Rest. Limit and/or avoid activities that make your heel hurt.
- Ice. Reduce pain and swelling by icing the affected area each day.
- Stretch. Stretch your heel throughout the day, especially when you first wake up in the morning.
- Footwear modifications. Wear shoes that provide good arch support and a cushioned sole. Ask your podiatrist about pads and shoe inserts to relieve your heel pain.
When conservative treatments aren't effective, or your pain persists for more than a few weeks, schedule an appointment to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. A podiatrist can recommend an appropriate treatment plan for your individual needs. This may include stretching exercises, shoe padding, orthotic devices, night splints or therapy. Most patients respond to non-surgical treatments, but for pain that won't go away, surgery may be required.
With proper rest and treatment, recovering from plantar fasciitis can take just a few months. Visit us when you first experience pain for a diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan for your individual needs.
While the appearance of blisters may be embarrassing, the pain accompanying them is often much worse and more of a concern for people who have them. Although blisters are a common foot problem experienced by many, have you ever wondered what the cause of those pesky blisters could be? Or, better yet, how they can be treated?
Blisters appear on a swollen part of the foot and consist of fluid, typically clear, though, depending on the blister, the fluid may also have blood. Blisters are usually caused by repeated friction or rubbing on a specific part of your foot. Here are some examples of things that can produce that constant friction:
- The type of footwear and how properly your shoes fit
- Your skin type and foot type (high, low or medium arch)
- The moisture found around your feet
- Heavy objects you may be carrying around, like a bag pack
While blisters are rarely filled with pus, pus can form if the blister is infected. In that case, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s preferable to talk to your doctor:
- Foot Pain
While the symptoms may seem common, any persistent pain needs medical attention. Individuals with diabetes need to be especially careful. If left untreated, the blister may turn into an ulcer, leaving you susceptible to an amputation.
Preventive Care Treatments:
There are several precautions you can take to prevent blisters. Here are a few preventative care options:
1. Make sure to wear proper fitting shoes
2. Wear moisture-wicking socks
3. Cushioned insoles are a good idea
4. Double-socks will provide extra cushion
5. Wear orthotics recommended by your podiatrist
6. Use antiperspirants, powders, and lubricants to reduce moisture and friction.
The key to healthy feet is preventative care and referring to your foot doctor whenever you have questions or concerns.
A neuroma is a thickening of nerve tissue that can develop in various parts of your body. In the foot, the most common occurring neuroma develops at the base of the third and fourth toes. This condition is referred to as Morton's neuroma.
There are typically no physical signs of Morton's neuroma, such as a lump or a knot. Instead, symptoms may include:
- A sharp, achy or burning pain in the ball of your foot
- Numbness, tingling, or cramping in the toes or forefoot
- Feeling as if you're standing on a pebble in your shoe
While the exact cause of Morton's neuroma is unknown, the growth of the neuroma seems to occur in response to injury, pressure or irritation to one of the nerves that lead to the toes. People with foot deformities such as bunions, hammertoes and flat feet are at higher risk for developing a neuroma. Women are also more likely to develop this condition, as wearing high-heels or narrow-toed shoes can increase pressure on the toes. Other potential causes are activities that involve repetitive irritation to the ball of the foot, such as running.
Morton's neuroma can make walking and performing normal activities difficult and painful. Treatment options vary with severity, and identifying the neuroma in its earliest stage of development is important to avoid more invasive treatments or surgical correction. Left untreated, neuromas tend to worsen, so it's always best to visit our office at the first sign of pain.
Early treatments aim to relieve or reduce pressure on the area around the affected toes. Depending on the severity of your neuroma, a podiatrist may recommend:
- Modifications to footwear. Wide-toed shoes relieve pressure on the neuroma.
- Shoe inserts or padding to provide support for the arch of the foot, which removes pressure from the nerve.
- Anti-inflammatory medications can help ease any pain and inflammation. Ask your doctor first.
- Icing to reduce inflammation.
- Rest to lessen repetitive pressure on the neuroma.
In the most severe cases, surgery may be recommended for patients who do not respond to conservative treatments. We can help you determine the best approach for your specific condition.
Ingrown toenails, also known as onychocryptosis, can be annoying and painful. This common condition occurs when the surrounding skin on one or both sides of the nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself penetrates the skin. As the nail digs into the skin, redness, swelling, and pain are often the result.
People develop ingrown toenails for various reasons. Poor nail-trimming is the most common cause, as this encourages the skin to fold over the nail. Other causes include trauma, such as stubbing a toe, or skin conditions, such as fungal infections or nails that are simply too large. In some cases, the condition may even be inherited. Poor fitting shoes generally aggravate the condition, making it worse.
Many cases of ingrown toenails may be prevented by:
- Wearing well-fitted shoes and socks
- Protecting feet from trauma when possible
- Trimming toenails straight across and avoiding repeated trimming of the nail borders
- Keeping feet clean and dry to prevent infection
If an infection is not suspected of your ingrown, it can usually be safely treated from home by soaking your foot in warm water. Avoid "bathroom surgery" and repeated cutting of the nail as this will only make the condition worse.
When attempts to reduce your symptoms from home fail, or when pain, inflammation, swelling or discharge accompany your ingrown, the toenail is most likely infected and should be treated by a podiatrist at our office. People with diabetes, nerve damage or poor circulation should always seek care immediately if an ingrown nail is detected, regardless of the severity.
A podiatrist can examine the affected toe and determine the best treatment for your condition. For an infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Other treatments may involve trimming or removing the infected nail with a minor in-office surgical procedure.
Ingrown toenails may be annoying, but rest assured that they can easily be prevented and treated with the help of your podiatrist. If you think you have an ingrown toenail, visit our practice for quick and easy treatment.
The feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body, which means they have the ability to sweat profusely. With your feet encased in your shoes all day and the sweat unable to evaporate, bacteria will begin to grow rapidly. Bacteria then begins to break down the sweat, generating an unpleasant odor. Other factors can contribute to increased perspiration, including anxiety, hormonal changes, medications and various skin conditions.
Foot odor is a common problem, especially among those who perspire excessively, but it can be both embarrassing and physically uncomfortable. If you suffer from foot odor, rest assured that simple lifestyle changes and improved personal hygiene can help reduce and eliminate the smell.
Easy Ways to Eliminate Foot Odor
Since most foot odor is caused from excess sweat and the growth of odor-causing bacteria, it's relatively easy to control and reduce foot odor on your own. Start by taking the following preventative steps:
- Keep your feet clean by washing them with an antibacterial soap on a regular basis to minimize bacteria.
- Keep feet dry as moisture enables the growth of bacteria.
- Alternate shoes and avoid wearing the same pair for multiple days in a row.
- Choose open shoes such as sandals when possible, allowing air onto the feet which evaporates sweat and slows the growth of bacteria.
- Wear cotton socks which wick away moisture and absorb perspiration.
- Apply foot sprays and powders to the feet. Ask your podiatrist for recommended products.
- Disinfect, wash and discard foul smelling shoes as necessary.
The causes of foot odor are typically not harmful to your health, but do create an environment for the growth of fungus and bacteria. It's not unusual for infections such as toenail fungus and athlete's foot to develop as a result.
When improving your foot hygiene doesn't help reduce the smell, you may need to visit your podiatrist, as persistent foot odor can indicate an infection or a severe case of hereditary sweating. In these cases, a prescription ointment may be required to treat the problem. Visit our office, and we'll work with you to determine the cause and most effective treatment for your condition!