Here at Foot Body Sole, we see a vast assortment of conditions, from plantar fasciitis to ingrown toenails. A good portion of those conditions are to do with the skin on the feet! In this blog post we will be discussing some of the common skin conditions we see, and what you should be doing if you think you've got them.
How important is the skin on my feet...?
The skin on your feet is often a bit overlooked, everyone looks after their face and hands, but we forget about our feet because they are out of sight.
Because of this, skin conditions which are potentially harmful are very common on the feet! Many of these conditions have the potential to spread and worsen, and can sometimes even affect your nails, or transfer to other areas of your body.
1. Tinea Pedis (Fungal Infection)
Tinea Pedis is likely the most common skin infection we see here at Foot Body Sole. Consisting of often itchy, flaky skin, with red itchy spots scattered throughout, this is a fungal infection which can sometimes cause a great deal of discomfort.
Factors that lead to getting Tinea Pedis often include having sweaty feet, wearing sweaty socks all day, poor foot hygiene and not drying your feet well after showers. Most of these are because fungal spores like dark, moist, warm environments to grow in - exactly what a sweaty foot is. Fungal skin infections can also spread into the nails, which creates a fungal nail infection, or onychomycosis.
Tips for keeping this one away consist of keeping your feet and between the toes dry after showers, using a broad spectrum anti fungal cream/spray on your feet for up to 2 weeks and then use a tea tree spray or solution (a natural anti-fungal agent!) on your toes and feet for prevention after you stop the anti fungal treatment. It's handy to also taking a spare pair of socks with you if you're going out for exercise, and using antimicrobial soaps to keep your feet properly clean!
2. Corns and Callus
Corns and callus are focused areas of hard and dry skin on the feet. Caused by friction and rubbing, these can often become painful. Corns are caused in areas of rubbing and twisting, where the hard skin has a more focal point of pressure on top the skin, often leading people to feel as if they have a sharp splinter or small rock type of feeling in their foot or between their toes.
Factors that lead to getting hard callus and corns include wearing ill fitted shoes,
toe position, as well as some systemic problems such as thyroid impairment or psoriasis. Ill-fitted shoes will allow your foot to slide and rub, increasing the friction between your foot and the shoe, and so your skin will build up a hard layer to protect your healthy skin!
Consistent moisturising on pressure areas, ensuring your shoes are fitted correctly, and using a pumice stone or emery board to file away hard skin can be very helpful at keeping callus away. For Corns, especially if in-between the toes, padded bandaids or silicone toe separators can provide relief in addition to seeing your podiatrist for regular maintenance to have them removed.
3. Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails are again a very common condition in podiatry clinics. Caused by the nail digging into the skin, they can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort, as well as sometimes infection.
Ingrown toenails are often caused by the shape of the nail being too wide for the toe or curling in at the sides, shoes that are too tight around the toes, combined with poor nail cutting at home, or trauma to the toe (stubbing or knocking it!). These can all lead to the corner of the nail digging in.
Avoiding shoes that fit too tightly around the toes, cutting your nails straight across, as well as avoiding picking your nails which can cause jagged edges, are all good strategies for staying problem free at home.
If you do get an ingrown toenail however, using an antiseptic such as betadine to keep the area clean, combined with salt baths can help keep the area infection free. For further advice keep reading, because we have outlined below what treatment options there are for you!
4. Warts (Verruca Pedis)
Another very common condition affecting the feet is warts! Especially in those who frequent the pool, or younger children.
Warts can often be quite painful, especially on weight bearing areas of the foot, and also have the potential to spread and multiply if left alone.
Knowing exactly where you got your wart from is not an easy task, as they can sometimes take up to 24 months to show themselves after contact with the virus.
Tips for avoiding a wart often include wearing thongs in public showers, or areas where lots of people are barefoot can help you avoid coming into contact with the virus!
Unlike warts or Tinea, blisters aren't contagious, however they can still be quite painful!
Blisters are most commonly caused by friction, and so often runners, or people wearing tight work shoes will get them.
A blister may seem like a minor inconvenience initially, however if a blister opens, there is possibility for infection or further irritation to occur.
Tips for avoiding blisters at home are making sure that your shoes and runners fit properly - your foot shouldn't be touching the end of the shoe or sliding forwards - this might mean the shoe is too small or too big!
As well as that, there are many over the counter products, such as the Compeed blister stick, engo blisters patches in your runners/shoes which help reduce rubbing in areas of high friction.
What If I've Already Got These Things?!
Not to worry! All of the above listed issues are very treatable. We offer comprehensive treatment for all of them in the clinic, but in minor cases, we suggest having a go at the over the counter options first!
For fungal infections, depending on the severity, topical anti-fungal creams or sprays, also available over the counter are a great starting point - products such as SolvEasy, Lamisil and Canestan Anti-Fungal cream can be very effective. You need to use these as directed on the packaging and not on and off to cause the infection not resolve and keeps coming back.
For corns and callus, using a moisturiser with Urea in it will help break down the hard skin with consistent use, combined with a pumice stone or emery board, callus can be reduced. For corns, using padding between the toes, such a silicone toe sleeve or separator can provide relief, otherwise a Podiatrist can use a scalpel to completely cut away the hard callus and corns.
For Ingrown Toenails, home management consists of proper cutting of the toenails (straight across the top!) as well as avoiding tightly fitting shoes around the toes. If you've tried all of this and still have an issue, there are multiple options available in clinic to treat ingrown toe nails, including the following:
- Packing under the corner with foam
- Partial nail avulsion surgery to permanently remove the painful portion of nail
- Conservative treatment to smooth and cut the painful corner of the nail
- BraceNFix to make a long lasting change to the shape of the nail to avoid re-occurance, also a pain free option! Check out our instagram if you are interested in finding out more about our new BraceNFix treatment option. :)
For warts, over the counter treatment can sometimes be a little bit confusing, as well as taking a long time without guidance - so if you have been using these for a long time without success then in clinic we have further treatment options including the following:
- Higher strength salcylic acid up to 60% in clinic which is higher than over the counter options
- Liquid Nitrogen treatment
- Swift Microwave therapy for treatment of warts without any dressings!