It's summer, and the sandals are out! However, we should know what to look for to make our feet no only look good, but also remain healthy. Here are the top 3 skin conditions to look out for.
What is a wart? A wart is actually a virus that lives between the dermis (deep layer) and the epidermis (more superficial layer) or your skin. If if is on the bottom of the foot, then it is referred to as a plantars wart. (Plantar refers to the bottom of the foot.) It may appear as a corn or callus (hyperkeratotic tissue, or just a thick build up of skin) but it in fact may be a wart. It really has nothing to do with your hygiene, as it is ubiquitous (it is everywhere!) All it takes is a tiny break in skin, sometimes microscopic so you can't even see the break in skin, and the virus enters and thrives. It goes incognito, so your body does not even know that it is there, thus does not mount an immune response. So the wart virus is able to multiply, get bigger and bigger, or even travel to other parts of the bottom of the foot, or other toes, or the other foot. Even worse, it may even travel to other parts of the body such as fingers or elbows or knees. It appears as a thickened cauliflower type lesion, with increased thickened skin, which causes pressure and may even cause pain when walking. It has a lack of skin lines, and has tiny black pinpoint dots that upon scraping, may shoe pinpoint bleeding. It is important to have this checked out by your podiatrist right away in order to have them treated.
You can try over the counter medications or home remedies, and the wart may go away. However don't wait too long to have the wart treated, as the longer it is present, the longer it feels at home and the loner it takes to get rid of! The doctors at Prairie Path Foot and Ankle Clinic have a special medication that we apply every 2 weeks in the office. It is effective and best of all... it is painless! Our pediatric patients appreciate that. It usually takes 2 to 4 treatments to get rid of the wart. We will also give you some homework to do, meaning you have to "work on" the wart at home as well. There are very few that have to progress to prescription topical medication for the wart. Most are rid of this nuisance within a few weeks!
2. Ingrown Nails
We do love our feet to look good in sandals, and it is important for our nails to look good as well. However it is important for you to take note of your toenails. Yes, we choose our favorite nail polish for our pedicures but you have to pay attention to any areas around the nail that appear inflamed or red. If there pain, redness, or swelling, then you may have an ingrown nail or the start of an ingrown nail. If there is a break in the skin around the nail, then the ingrown nail may have caused an infection. It is important to have the nail examined by a podiatrist as soon as possible, as you may need an oral antibiotic, or if the doctor deems it necessary, you may need immediate attention to have the area drained. Most importantly to prevent this from occuring, cut your toenails straight across.
3. Athlete's Foot
If your skin appears dry and flaky to the point that no matter how much cream and moisturizers you apply but it just doesn't get better, then you may actually have athlete's foot. The dryness and flakiness can cause itching and even a break in skin. This condition is caused by a fungus, and it can occur on the bottom of the feet, or in between the toes. When it occurs between the toes, the area may be macerated, or the damp to the point that the skin may break down. It is important to have this checked out because if the macerated innerspace, or skin between the toes, breaks down, you could get a secondary bacterial infection that could become red, painful, and swollen. It is important to treat the athlete's foot sooner than later, as the skin could also crack open and cause an infection. And the longer you have fungus causing athlete's foot on your skin, the same fungus can also infect your toenails. So treatment of this condition sooner than later is a must! It is usually treated with a topical medication. Our office carries Tolcylen cream, which is applied to the affected area twice a day. It is also important to keep the feet clean and dry, as a damp, dark environment (such as socks and shoes all day) can perpetuate the fungal infection.
With a quick exam every day of your feet, you can make sure that these most common skin ailments don't affect your feet. If they do, make an appointment with one of our doctors right away and we can start a treatment plan to rid you of these skin ailments as soon as possible.