Skin and Nail Conditions
Many foot and ankle problems are internally based. Feet and ankles contain over one-quarter of all the bones in your body, along with hundreds of different muscles and connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, and fasciae). Accordingly, numerous sprains, strains, fractures, and other medical issues can (and do) develop.
There are also problems that can arise on the surface level of your feet. Skin and nail conditions are fairly common. If you or a loved one is having any of these problems, come see us here at South Hill Foot & Ankle Clinic and let Dr. Borys Markewych create a treatment plan to resolve it for you.
Skin Conditions for Feet and Ankles
As with any area of the body, skin problems can develop in the lower limbs. There are a couple of reasons why they are sometimes more prevalent in the feet and ankles, though. One potential source of problems is the sweat glands feet use to keep skin moist. Whereas most of your skin relies on oil glands for moisture, skin on the lower limbs are moisturized with hundreds of thousands sweat glands.
Those glands produce a tremendous amount of sweat (which is also intended to keep feet cool). This is a problem when it comes to skin conditions caused by microorganisms, but there’s another factor as well.
In spite of temperature regulation efforts by the endocrine system, feet can be a rather warm environment, especially when encased in socks and shoes. Microbial organisms need moisture, but they also need warmth as well.
Common skin issues in the lower limbs include:
- Athlete’s foot. This condition is directly related to the moisture and warmth levels found in feet. It is caused by a mold-like fungus known as tinea, which thrives in such an environment. The fungus is easily picked up by feet, and commonly found in areas like locker room floors, indoor pool decks, and communal showering areas.
Athlete’s foot typically starts between the toes, before spreading out across the foot. This common fungal infection causes itching and burning sensations. The good news is that most cases are easily resolved with over-the-counter antifungal sprays and powders. If these products do not provide relief, contact our office for professional care.
- Plantar warts. Warts are viral growths. With regard to feet, the kind most likely to develop is a plantar wart. This particular variety is caused by certain strands of a common virus – the human papillomavirus (HPV). Plantar warts typically grow on the bottom of feet and can often be flattened or found under callused skin. They are benign (noncancerous) and will normally go away on their own.
Whereas plantar warts are not malignant, they can still cause pain, discomfort, and embarrassment. Additionally, they are contagious and can be passed along to family and friends. Also, warts may go away on their own, but this can take up to a couple of years.
Treatments sold at the store are usually either too weak or too strong and are not recommended. It is imperative you do not attempt to use “bathroom surgery” to cut one out on your own. (Doing so increases risk of infection or hurting yourself!) Instead, come see us for professional care.
- Calluses, corns, and blisters. These respective skin conditions are all created by the body for defense against friction or pressure. Whereas that is their intended function, they can cause problems – particularly for individuals who live with diabetes.
One of the pillars of diabetic foot care is daily foot inspection. Conditions like these are part of the reason for that. When nerves are damaged—as is a rather common situation when diabetes is in the picture—it is easy not to be aware of skin issues like these. The problem is, calluses, corns, and blisters can potentially break down over time and become dangerous diabetic foot ulcers.
In many cases, you can reduce your risk of developing a callus, corn, or blister by making sure your footwear fits appropriately. Not sure what that entails? Come see us and we’ll be glad to help you.
- Cracked heels. One of the problems with relying on sweat for moisture, instead of oil, is that it evaporates rather easily. This means feet can easily become dry. Excessive dryness leads to cracking in the skin, particularly in the heel. Cracked heels can be rather painful, but they also pose risk for infection when the cracks are deep. As with calluses and blisters, this can be alarming for diabetic individuals.
Toenails might have had some use for our ancestors, but they are vestigial remnants from bygone times and aren’t terribly useful for modern humans. This doesn’t change the fact, of course, that we still have them. They generally just exist without much fanfare, until a problem develops. Toenail issues can include:
- Ingrown toenails. Toenails become ingrown for various reasons—physical trauma, tight footwear, inherited structure—but the condition is generally the same. No matter the root cause, an ingrown toenail is one that has grown into the soft skin flanking it. This condition can cause pain and discomfort. Depending on your situation, conservative care might be beneficial. For recurrent cases, though, we may need to permanently remove the offensive nail. (Don’t worry – we numb the area so you don’t have pain!)
- Fungal toenails. If you look down at your bare feet and see nails that are yellowed, darkened, distorted, or otherwise discolored you likely have a case of fungal toenails. Toenail fungus is fairly common, but can still be quite embarrassing. Whereas this is primarily a cosmetic issue—albeit, a quality of life one if it makes you self-conscious—infections are bad news if you are diabetic. No matter your motivation, South Hill Foot & Ankle provides professional treatment for fungal nail with the use of laser therapy. We will work to restore your toenails back to their natural, clear and healthy selves!
Professional Treatment for Skin and Toenail Conditions
South Hill Foot & Ankle Clinic is committed to providing exceptional services for all lower limb problems, including skin and toenail conditions. If you want additional information about how we can help you—or you are ready to put your foot pain behind you—simply give our Spokane office a call at (509) 747-0274. You can also connect with us online right now!