Your Guide to Skin and Nail Care
With everything our feet go through, it makes sense that issues will pop up now and then. The good news is that most common foot problems aren’t that serious and can be tackled at home. Better yet, with a little intentionality, many issues can be prevented altogether!
Common Foot Issues
When it comes to our feet, there are a few most common issues that arise. Although these issues may cause pain, they aren’t necessarily serious unless symptoms become worse.
Plantar warts usually appear on the heels or balls of the feet, in the form of small growths. Since they grow on the areas of the feet that bear the most pressure, the wart can also grow inward, underneath a layer of skin.
Plantar warts are caused when a virus (HPV) enters your body through small cuts or cracks in your skin, usually at the bottom of the feet.
You may notice the hard, thickened skin or small clotted blood vessels which look like black pinpoints. Plantar warts sometimes grow as a cluster–several warts in the same area. There may be pain or a slight tenderness when applying pressure.
They usually go away on their own with a little self-care or over-the-counter treatment.
Although ingrown toenails can happen on any of your nails, they most commonly occur in the area around the big toenail. The nail grows into the surrounding skin, causing swelling, redness, and pain.
You’ll first notice a slight swelling on the side of the toenail and you may experience tenderness when applying pressure to the area. Although ingrown toenails are treatable at home, precautions must be taken. You risk infection if not treated properly.
Usually occurring between the toes, athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the skin. It can happen when you’ve sweat a lot in tight-fitting shoes (hence the name “athlete’s foot”).
You’ll notice rash-like symptoms that will soon become itchy if not treated. The skin may look red or purple, dry, and scaly. The infected area may burn or sting, and can even blister in time.
Athlete’s foot is very contagious and can be easily spread in places like locker rooms. Towels, floors, clothing, and shared socks or shoes are easy ways to spread the infection.
Nail fungus is a fairly common infection, not to be confused with athlete’s foot. While athlete’s foot primarily affects the skin around and between your toes, nail fungus is in the toenails.
You’ll first notice nail fungus as a yellow-brown spot under the tip of the nail. As the infection worsens, the nail color might darken and thicken, before finally crumbling off. The infection can also spread to other nails.
Pain-wise, nail fungus is mild. It often looks worse than it feels. However, proper treatment must be taken or the fungus will persist.
Dry, Cracked Skin
Dry or cracked skin, also known as fissures, is just how it sounds. Fissures are more annoying than harmful–unless left untreated. Cracked skin is how infection enters your feet. So even if dry skin doesn’t bother you, it’s important to nip it in the bud.
Tips for Proper Foot Care
Many of these common foot ailments, while easily treatable, are also easily preventable. With a few common sense and self-care measures.
Clean Feet Everyday
Our feet take us everywhere. We may never fully grasp all the germs they come in contact with every day. To keep any infections or issues from arising, you should clean your feet every day. Even if you forego a shower for the day, at least give your feet a quick scrub. And, giving your feet a little attention every day will help you look out for any new issues.
Protect Feet in Public Areas
When you do venture out into the world, it’s important to make sure your feet are protected. This means wearing proper, comfortable footwear. Shoes that are ill-fitting or too tight can exacerbate any underlying issues.
Additionally, some areas are more high-risk than others. Gyms, locker rooms, pools, saunas, and other areas like this can be a hotbed for infection. Always wear protective sandals when walking through these areas or using a public shower.
Trimming your toenails at a curve can cause ingrown toenails. Be sure to trim straight across so that the nail won’t continue to grow in the wrong direction.
If you do get an ingrown toenail, our doctors can provide relief from the pain fast! You can also try treating it yourself by soaking in warm water and Epsom salt and applying over-the-counter antibiotics, but this might not work or will take a while to work.
Above all, moisturizing your feet every day is an easy way to protect them. Avoid dry, cracked skin as that’s the most common way for infection to enter. Add a moisturizing ritual to your morning or evening routine.
Avoid putting too much lotion between the toes, however, as doing so can lead to an Athlete’s foot infection.
When to See a Doctor
Although most of these issues are preventable and easily treatable, you should know when it’s time to come see our amazing podiatrists before things become too severe. Here are some things to look out for:
- Pain is growing more severe.
- Over-the-counter treatments aren’t working.
- Growths are bleeding or changing dramatically.
- Intense swelling.
- Difficulty walking.
As for infections, a good rule of thumb is to always have them checked out by a medical professional, especially if you have diabetes or an auto-immune disease.
Come See Us
If you’re experiencing severe pain or any of the issues above, it may be time to seek a professional opinion. Contact us at Premier Podiatry Group for foot and ankle care. We have two convenient locations in Ebensburg and Johnstown. No matter what kind of foot pain you’re experiencing, our expert podiatrists Dr. Carlos Barra and Dr. Maureen Ratchford will get you back on your feet in no time.