A day usually does not go by in the office when I do not see a patient who comes to me saying that there toenails are ugly. With spring here, and summer right around the corner, everyone is preparing for flip-flop season. What better way to prepare than by seeing your podiatrist to get your toenails into shape. Ugly toenails (thickened, discolored, crumbly nails) can be caused by many different things. Most commonly, this type of presentation is caused by a nail fungus. Nail fungus is contagious and is generally seen after walking barefoot on a pool deck, locker room, hotel room floor, etc. Treatment is important to not only prevent spreading on your feet but also to prevent yourself from sharing with your whole family.
“What can I use for the fungus in my nails?” This is a question that I get all day everyday from patients. My answer usually consists of a discussion of topical medications vs oral medications. I then always get asked the question “How effective is the topical medications?” I set out to write this blog to answer the burning question of how effective topical anti-fungals are for nail fungus.
One of the best things about the summer and warm weather is that you can have your feet out of the boots and feeling the warm air. Shoe-free time with your feet in the sand and grass gives us a feeling of freedom and contentment. But, one must take care of the feet while they are out enjoying the warmth and fresh air.
Taking care of your feet in the summer is very important. Even if you are just out soaking in the sun, your feet can become severely burned. That fancy hotel you may be staying at for summer break? The shower may be great, but the athlete’s foot that is lurking will not be kind to your feet. As a matter of fact, athlete’s foot can be hanging out in all kinds of public places.
Wouldn’t you rather be outside enjoying the beautiful weather instead of having to visit the foot doctor? Here are a few basic tips to remember when you and your feet are enjoying the weather.
Remember to apply sunscreen to your feet. Be sure to apply the sunscreen to the top and sides of your feet. If you have been in the water make sure that you reapply the sunscreen.
Where flip flops or other protective footwear when you are walking around in public areas. Wear flip flops in the showers and the bathroom areas. Protecting your feet from athlete’s foot, plantar warts, ringworm and other infections is important.
Different activities, while you are out, may require different footwear. Make sure you are wearing the appropriate shoes for the activity that you are doing.
Drink plenty of water when you are out in the hot weather. Water is great for overall health and will help minimize any swelling in your legs and feet.
If you injure your foot while you are out, then you will need to contact your podiatric physician. Do not let foot injuries go for too long without having it looked at by the physician.
Warm Weather Foot Gear
Always have flip flops available for visits to the pool, hotel rooms, and the spa.
Antibiotic Cream- for minor skin injuries
Band-Aids and Sterile Bandages- For scrapes and cuts
Emollient Creams- to keep feet hydrated
Advil or Motrin- to reduce pain and swelling of feet
Sunscreen- to protect feet from painful sunburn
Aloe Vera- for sunburned feet
Blister Pads- to protect against blisters
Clippers- to keep toenails trimmed
Emery Boards- to file the sharp edges of the toenails
Pumice Stone- to help with callused skin
If you have injured your foot and thought, you may have a sprain or worse a break you will need to see your foot doctor. Most people will call their regular doctor or go to the local emergency room. By contacting your foot doctor, you will be treated by the foot professional. Never let a foot injury go unchecked. If you break a bone in your foot and do not get it checked by the physician, you will have more problems later on. A simple x-ray will let you and your doctor know if you have a broken bone in your foot.
Have questions concerning your foot health? Contact Quality Foot Care by calling (215) 230-9707.
Athlete’s foot will usually begin as a rash that can cause intense itching. Athlete’s foot is also known as tinea pedis and usually starts between the toes. Athlete’s foot will usually strike those people who wear tight-fitting shoes and have feet that sweat. The more your feet sweat the worse the symptoms seem to be.
Signs of Athlete’s Foot
Most common signs of athlete’s foot are itching, burning and stinging. Athlete’s foot is also very contagious and can be picked up from floors, towels and showers. Anywhere that a person has walked barefoot that has athlete’s foot will be contaminated.
Athlete’s foot is related to a few other fungal infections including jock itch and ringworm. Athlete’s foot can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications. If you find that the over-the-counter antifungal medications are not working it is time to see your foot specialist. There are medications available that can be prescribed and will reduce the discomfort quickly. Athlete’s foot can cause your feet to hurt and bleed if it is not taken care of.
You may notice that athlete’s foot can become worse at night after taking your shoes and socks off. Some forms of athlete’s foot can become so severe that it will cause blisters and open sores. If you have blisters try not to scratch them and open them up. If you do touch your blisters or feet be sure to wash your hands right away. Athlete’s foot can spread to your hands.
Time to see your Foot Specialist
If you suspect you have athlete’s foot and you have diabetes then you need to see your foot specialist right away. If you notice swelling, redness and have a fever then put a call into your podiatrist. There is no need having to suffer when your doctor is a phone call away.
What Causes Athlete’s Foot
Caused by the same organisms as jock itch and ringworm, athlete’s foot thrives in damp places that are warm. Try to wear shoes that allow the feet to breath at all times. Try to wear white cotton socks over those that are heavier and do not allow your feet to breath.
Avoiding Athlete’s Foot
Wear shoes that allow your feet to breath.
Do not share mats, bed linens, towels, socks or shoes with someone who has athlete’s foot.
Do not walk barefoot in public areas including public showers. Wear flip-flops to protect your feet when in public areas.
Athlete’s foot that is not taken care of can spread to other parts of your body including your nails, your hands and your groin area.
What to Expect From Your Foot Doctor
Your foot doctor will examine your feet. You will be asked when this rash started. Does any other family member have athlete’s foot? Have you been in public showers, swimming pools or other areas where athlete’s foot may have spread?
If you have questions about athlete’s foot be sure to ask your doctor. The better informed you are the less chance of contracting this type of rash again.
Many people pay little attention to their toenails until they realize they have a nail problem. Nail health should never be overlooked, and there are a few basic maintenance procedures that should be incorporated into your daily routine. Healthy nails are attractive nails, and as we move through winter towards spring and open toed shoes, more people will be working to maximize the appearance of their toenails.
First and foremost, a good diet will encourage nail health. Nails are made out of keratin, and a diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals allows them to develop well. Lack of proper nutrients can cause weak and discolored toenails (and also fingernails), which break easily and are often unsightly. Incorporating things like beans, seeds and nuts, and leafy green vegetables into your daily menu will have a positive effect on your entire body, not just your nails.
Combined with the right diet, another basic way to achieve healthy nails is to wash your feet every day. This doesn’t mean simply letting the water hit them while in the shower—there must be a separate process for cleaning the feet. Mildly warm water and antibacterial soap should be used to wash under and between the toes, and then afterwards a towel must be used to dry the feet and toes properly. It is important to make sure that all moisture is eliminated after washing because wet feet are a breeding ground for toenail fungus.
The most common mistake people make pertaining to their toenails is clipping them incorrectly. Toenails should always be cut straight across, never down the sides, because it can lead to ingrown toenails. Clipping them too short can also cause ingrown nails to develop.
A final tip is to always keep your feet covered when in public areas where other people’s feet are often exposed, such as at the pool or in a locker room. Making sure they do not make contact with the floor will prevent the spread of various kinds of toenail funguses and even warts.
If you would like more information about proper toenail care or would like to make an appointment for an ingrown toenail, nail fungus, or other concern, call Dr. Ken Lefkowitz at his Doylestown office, Quality Foot Care.