Common Foot Problems
NAIL AND SKIN DISORDERS
FUNGAL INFECTIONS are very common and can present in the skin or in the nails. The most common skin infection is Athlete's Foot (tinea pedis) which thrives in a warm, moist environment and can usually be resolved within a few weeks with treatment. Fungal nails (onychomycosis) are common but very often misdiagnosed. It is difficult for a fungus to penetrate a healthy nail plate but damaged nails or the existence of a fungal skin infection are risk factors for nail fungus. The sooner treatment is sought for fungal nails; the better the outcome.
INGROWING TOENAILS (onychocryptosis) usually affect the great toes but can affect any of the toenails. They are very painful and can be seen at any age but usually make their first appearance in the early teenage years. They occur when the nail is forced into the flesh of the toe. The area may appear sore, red, warm or swollen and if infected; it may bleed or contain pus. They are normally caused by shoes putting pressure on the nail plate e.g tight football boots or shallow toed shoes, poor nail cutting (usually too short or at an angle) but some individuals are predisposed to getting them due to an inherited nail shape or damaged nail bed. some ingrowing toenails may be a once off and are easily rectified with a visit to you podiatrist who can advise on preventing getting another one, others are recurrent and may warrant part or total removal of the toenail.
CORNS AND HARD SKIN are caused by high pressure to certain areas of the feet. The high pressure causes the skin to thicken at first and form a callus. if there is a high level of pressure on a small area a corn may form. The skin becomes very hard and at the focal centre of the pressure hard point forms which pushes into the flesh of the toe. The pain comes when this is then further compressed by shoes. A corn can be removed easily but if the pressure returns, the corn is likely to do so too. Sometimes orthotics (insoles) can be used to redistribute pressure especially for corns and callus on the soles of the feet. Gel shields and leather props may be used in addition to footwear changes to help prevent corns on and between the toes from returning.
VERRUCAE PEDIS are wart like lesions which develop on the foot. They are usually seen on the soles of the feet, often on the heels or across the balls of the feet but they can present on any area even on toes or at nail edges. They are caused by a strain of the human papilloma virus invading the body and avoiding detection by the immune system. They often will resolve on their own with time and are not usually treated unless symptomatic. Treatment options vary from no treatment, to acid based preparations applied at home to needling verrucaes under local anaesthetic. The best treatment option for each patient with a verruca is discussed during consultation.
1 in 10 of us will suffer an episode of heel pain at least once in our lifetime. Heel pain is most prevalent in the 40-60 age range and in people who jog/run. It usually affects one foot but can affect both. It can be acute or chronic but is usually felt as an intense pain in the heel which is worse after activity and on the first few steps after resting. Heel pain can be caused by a number of conditions such as plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, sever's disease and calcaneal stress fracture, so a visit to your podiatrist will help diagnose your heel pain and work on a treatment plan to get you back to normal activity levels as soon as possible.