Most of the foot conditions our patients experience can be placed into various general categories, like sports injuries or causes of heel pain. Another category of common lower limb problems is skin and toenail conditions. Some people may think of these issues as being superficial or not a big deal, but this mindset can enable minor issues to eventually become major problems.
When you develop an issue with your foot skin or toenails, keep in mind the best practice is to address these problems at the earliest possible stages. At Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida, we will provide the care you need!
Common Toenail Problems
Toenails might not be as useful as they were once upon a time, but they do still exist and, unfortunately, can be the source of several potential medical issues:
- Toenail fungus – Nail fungus can be identified when nails are abnormally brittle, thickened, and discolored. The responsible fungus behind this condition tends to thrive in damp, warm environments (like gym locker rooms, pool decks, and showering areas).
- Black toenails – This nail problem can be particularly common for long-distance runners, especially those who wear running shoes that are too tight. Often, but not always, black toenails develop when the nailbed bruises or blood pools between it and the nail. In rare cases, a black toenail is an indication of malignant melanoma.
- Ingrown toenails – When nails become ingrown, it is often the result of tight shoes, improper nail trimming practices, physical trauma, or an unusually curved nail structure. Most cases are treated with conservative practices, but nails that continually become ingrown may need to be removed.
The good news about these toenail issues is that simple prevention methods can greatly lower your risk for developing them. These include keeping feet dry, wearing footwear that fits correctly, and protecting your feet with sandals or shower shoes when walking on pool decks and in locker rooms.
Skin Conditions That Affect Feet
There are several possible issues that can arise with the skin on the feet. One reason for this is the tremendous amounts of pressure placed upon them on a daily basis. Another is that feet do not have oil glands to provide moisture. Instead, they rely on hundreds of thousand sweat glands. This not only causes foot odor, but it also creates an essential component (moisture) that bacteria, fungi, and viruses need to thrive.
- Plantar warts – There are many myths regarding the origins of warts, but the reality is simply that they develop in response to a viral infection. The responsible virus is the human papillomavirus (HPV), which has over 100 different types (but only a few actually cause these bumpy growths).
- Athlete’s foot – This is one of the most common fungal infections, but it is also one of the easiest to treat. Antifungal products that can be bought at the store usually do an effective job of treating mild to moderate cases. More severe infections may require professional care.
- Corns and calluses – These are related skin conditions, but quickly distinguished based on physical characteristics. Calluses are flattened patches of thickened skin, whereas corns are usually conical and feature a center that is either softer or harder than the surrounding skin.
- Blisters – Blisters develop in response to friction, when the top layers of skin become separated from bottom ones. The space between then fills up with fluid as the body tries to protect itself so the skin can be adequately repaired.
- Cracked heels – When the skin on the bottom of the foot becomes excessively dry, it can respond by cracking. Not only is this a source of discomfort, it also creates an opening for microorganisms to infect the body.
Skin and Toenail Care at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida
Feet are susceptible to a wide range of potential skin and toenail conditions. If you or any of your loved ones have symptoms of these common problems, come see us at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida and we will provide the effective care needed. Contact us by calling 407-641-0075 or 352-589-9550 (when calling from Lake County) for more information. You can also request an appointment with any of our Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Kissimmee, Tavares, or Orlando, FL locations online today.