Posts for: January, 2018
If the temperatures outside are keeping you indoors this time of year, you’re not alone. I hate the cold. For the brave souls who like to venture out into the snowy weather, a few words of caution. Your toes need to be protected! Proper footwear is always a must because frostbite and chilblains are common foot injuries brought on by the cold. As usual, they are easy to avoid if we understand how they happen and what to do about it.
Many people will know frostbite, but there is a milder form of cold injury called frostnip. Just because it’s milder, doesn’t mean it still isn't uncomfortable and bad for your feet. It generally begins in the toes. The skin will turn white or flush red and feel extremely cold to the touch. In a short time, this can lead to numbness or a feeling of pins and needles. Without rewarming, frostnip will lead to frostbite. Think of it as an early warning sign and get yourself indoors where your feet can get care. Soak your feet in water, but bring the temperature up very gradually. Don’t start with hot water; you probably can’t feel if it’s too hot and scalding your feet.
READ MORE: Winter Boot Buying Guide
In the cold, the blood vessels nearest the skin narrow, diverting blood to the core of the body to protect the vital organs. Unfortunately, this leaves fingers, toes, and nose tips left out in the cold. Literally. Since your body is no longer trying to warm those areas, they have no defense against cold injuries. If you leave them exposed, frostbite will slowly freeze the skin and tissue underneath. In severe cases, tissue will die and need to be surgically removed. If you think you are developing frostbite, seek medical treatment immediately.
Most people know what frostnip and frostbite are and how to avoid them, but there is another type of cold injury that can occur even when it's not below freezing. Chilblains is a condition in which the feet react to cold with inflammation. This causes red patches, itching, swelling, and can be accompanied by painful blisters, called pernio. Just like nail fungus likes to grow in warm and moist socks, chilblains like to form in cold and damp socks. Frostbite can onset quickly due to freezing temperatures, but chilblains occur from long exposure to mild cold and humidity. You may not even feel it happening, but long term damage is being done to your blood vessels. Symptoms can stick around for a while without proper treatment, so get yourself to a podiatrist asap.
To prevent any cold injury there are some basic steps to follow. Keep your feet warm at all times. When going outside, wear warm socks that pull moisture away from the skin (wool is a good choice). If you don’t have a lot of body fat to keep you warm, add an extra layer of socks. Same thing if you have excessively sweaty feet. Avoid rapid temperature changes if your feet do get too cold. Never warm up your feet if there is a chance of them refreezing before reaching proper medical care.
READ MORE: Keep Your Feet Warm
You try to avoid it, but it happened. You developed fungal nails. This infection occurs from contact with fungus in warm, moist places. Often pools or communal showers can spread fungus and it grows well in dark places like sweaty socks. Improper nail clipping and cuts or abrasions on your feet can give fungus an easy entry. If you develop athlete's foot, it can spread to your nails. Fungal infection of the nail is identified by thick and brittle nails, often with yellow discoloration. You may also experience pain with a severe infection.
READ MORE: Fungal Nails
Traditional treatments for fungal infections include: topical creams, nail lacquer, oral medications, or surgical removal. Your podiatrist may need to identify the strain of fungus before treatment or suggest multiple treatments options in conjunction. If severe infection occurs, the nail may need to be surgically removed which means a long recovery time and no regrowth of the nail. Don't fret! There is a way to avoid all this.
The Foot & Ankle Wellness Center has been treating fungal nails with wild success using the Aerolase laser. We see a 90% success rate in laser treatments; the highest of any treatment option. Our Aerolase laser penetrates through the nail plate to the nail bed where it kills fungal infection with no damage to the surrounding nail. This is a safe and painless treatment. You can reapply nail polish immediately after treatment (we recommend Dr. Remedy's anti-fungal polish). Your nail won't look perfect right away. After the infection is destroyed, the yellowed and thickened nail will need to grow out. This usually takes about 6-12 months. Additional trimming and treatment in our PediCare salon can help make the existing nail look better.
READ MORE: The PediCare Difference
Not all insurances cover laser treatments, but HSA (Healthcare Savings Accounts) may be applicable. Fees for treatment range between $249.00 up to $399.00. You will receive a written quote prior to treatment including the number of nails requiring treatment and the total price. Two additional evaluations within 12 months of your original treatment date are included and we will provide laser treatment of any re-infection that occurs at no additional cost.
Call today to schedule your appointment.
During winter time we don’t spend a lot of time looking at our feet, as they are usually bundled up in thick socks and warm shoes, but there are certain things we always need to pay attention to. One of those things is our toenails. Ingrown toenails occur when the toenail grows down into the skin, rather than outward as it’s supposed to. This condition is easily diagnosable since you can clearly see the skin growing over the nail. This may be accompanied by pain, redness, swelling, or even pus if infection is present.
Ingrown toenails occur on the big toe in nine out of ten cases, but other toes may be affected or even fingernails. Unfortunately, the majority of ingrown nails occur due to simple genetics. If you have larger-than-average toenails, but average size toes, this can lead to your nails growing down into the skin of your toe. People with particularly thick toenails or naturally curved nails may also be at higher risk of ingrown toenails. Although some ingrown nails may not be bothersome, secondary factors can exacerbate your condition to the point where you need to see a podiatrist.
READ MORE: Say Goodbye to Ingrown Toenails
One of the most common culprits of painful or infected ingrown toenails is improper nail cutting. Don’t cut your toenails too short, as this increases the chance they will grow into the skin. Nails should always be cut into a straight line, not a curve, to avoid edges progressing into the sides of your toe. Acute nail damage, such as stubbing your toe forcefully, can lead to misshapen nails that become ingrown. Ingrown nails may also develop if your toes are constantly squeezed together, either by tight shoes or conditions such as bunions that turn the toes toward each other.
Although cutting your toenail away from the skin might temporarily solve your problem, it will simply grow back the same way unless a surgical correction is made. Surgery is a scary word for most people, but fixing an ingrown toenail is a breeze and the procedure can actually be completed in a single office visit. First, a local anesthetic is applied, numbing the area so you remain blissfully ignorant to any feeling.
Next, the nail borders are removed; a fancy way of saying your nail is cut into a narrower shape and the folded skin is disconnected. In some cases, the entire toenail may be removed. Lastly, the nail matrix is chemically cauterized to eliminate the offending nail from growing back improperly. The matrix of your nail is the tissue it forms on and it is responsible for the length, size, and shape of the nail. The “cauterization” is actually just the application of a strong chemical that prevents the nail from growing back.
Almost all of our ingrown toenail treatments are done right in our office in a single visit (even if it’s your first visit). With a proper dressing and a loose (though protective!) shoe, most patients are able to resume normal activity within 24 hours, though extra care should be taken for several weeks while the toe heals. These procedures boast a 99% success rate with no ingrown toenail reoccurrence. Stop cutting away your painful ingrown nail and come see your podiatrist for a lasting solution. It’s really as simple as that.
READ MORE: Choosing Shoes to Avoid Foot Issues
This winter has seen record setting low temperatures and all that cold air can do horrific things to your skin and feet. Skin needs moisture to retain its smooth texture, but winter brings a lack of humidity that can leave your heels screaming for more. Not only is dry air causing our heels to crack, but it’s also a combination of dehydration (we tend to drink less water in winter) and our preference for hot showers. Soaking your feet in water does not actually moisturize them. Hot water will pull essential oils from your skin and worsen the cracking.
READ MORE: Quick Fixes for Yoru Feet
For some, the inconvenience of cracked heels is only an aesthetic one, but for many others, cracked heels may lead to pain when walking (particularly when barefoot), open and bleeding wounds, or even infection. This can put a damper on everything from snowman building to just going to work each day.
Even if you don’t currently feel pain from your heel fissures, you’ll want to do something about them. Adding moisture is the best thing to do, but we must remove the dry skin first to get to the healthy skin underneath. If your heel fissures are cracked open and bleed or are painful, come see your podiatrist rather then removing the skin yourself. If you heel fissures are just an ugly inconvenience, you can work on them yourself.
While taking a long hot bath will dry out your skin, soaking your feet for ten minutes in a warm tub will help soften the dead and dry layers so you can work them off with a pumice stone. Make sure you soak the stone itself as well then firmly rub your feet in circular patterns. Be sure to rinse the stone and your foot every few minutes to rinse away the dead skin cells. It may take several attempts before you start to see a difference, but take it slow and remember, you don’t have to get it all off in one go. The really important step comes next.
Moisturize! There’s no point in removing cracked, dry skin only to have more cracked, dry skin appear in its place. Make sure you are properly applying moisturizer to your heels and protect your feet properly during the day and night. Remove dead skin during your evening shower then lather on a thick moisturizer and put a pair of light cotton socks on overtop. This holds the lotion onto your feet so it can soak in overnight. You can do the same during the day, but make sure it’s a pair of warm wool socks. Don’t walk around your home barefoot in winter as this can exacerbate already dry heels. Be sure to use a thick moisturizer, but avoid dyes and perfumes.
We may pray for the ice to crack so it can melt and be gone, but a dry, cracked heel won’t go away so easily. If home remedies don’t seem to be cutting it, make an appointment with your podiatrist or with our PediCare salon. Our certified technicians are trained to remove callused and cracked skin gently, leaving your heels smooth and pretty.
READ MORE: Year-Round Foot Care