Biglerville Foot & Ankle Center

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Londonderry Foot & Ankle Center

Paxtonia Foot & Ankle Center

Q: What's the difference between a corn and a callus and a plantar wart?

A: Corn and callus are essentially different names for thick skin that forms in response to friction or pressure. We typically call one a corn if it is small and round and located on an area such as a toe knuckle (often less than ½ inch in diameter). Conversely, a callus often refers to a thickened area of skin on the bottom or plantar surface of the foot which is often broader or wider. These can cover more than one inch in diameter.

A wart is a thickened area of skin caused by a virus infection. These can occur anywhere on the skin and have certain hallmarks that differentiate them from a corn or callus. Warts appear to be encapsulated within the spreading skin lines and can be raised or even with the surrounding skin. They often demonstrate a cauliflower topped appearance with black dots located inside. A planter wart is a wart that is located on the plantar or bottom of the foot.

Symptomatic self treatment is sometimes effective with a callus file or pumice stone combined with a moisturizer. However, whether it is a corn, callus or wart, a self "cure" may be more difficult. The first order of business is to obtain an accurate diagnosis and then formulate an appropriate treatment plan which could range from simple shaving to the use of chemical agents to shoe gear changes to surgery.

Q: How do I know if I have athlete's foot and what do I do for it?

A: Athlete's foot is the name of a skin infection caused by one of several species of fungus which loves to live on our skin in warm, dark, moist environments. Feet live in shoes most of the time so they provide the perfect home. Athlete's foot comes in two general forms: an acute, moist draining, sore, burning, and itching variety and a more chronic dry mildly red, scaly or flaky variety. The first of these two will drive you to the drugstore to get something to apply or you may think you will go nuts. The second variety often hangs around for years since the only symptom is red, dry, scaly feet.

Application of over-the-counter athletes foot preparations are often effective in providing relief but we often stop using them as soon as symptoms abate, encouraging a relapse of the problem. This can be very frustrating and will often prompt a call to your Podiatrist. Prescription agents often are more effective in providing a cure as some can be applied as few as once a day. In severe cases oral medications and steroids are needed.

Q: I frequently get blisters on my feet. What could be the cause and what should I do?

A: Foot blisters can have many causes. Minor burns, athlete's foot, as well as rashes such as psoriasis are common reasons for blisters. Friction or rubbing is probably the most common cause of blisters. A new shoe or new sport could be the reason. Small blisters should be left alone and not popped. The fluid will be absorbed once the skin under the blister grows new skin. Covering the area with a bandage and vitamin e cream, aloe based cream or antibiotic ointment often soothes the area. If the blister is large, you can carefully cleanse the area and with a sterilized needle, incise it and cover with antibiotic ointment and a bandage. If recurrent blisters are a problem, try lubricating these areas with Vaseline or vitamin E oil or use a cornstarch foot powder. If that is ineffective, call your Podiatrist so that the cause can be addressed.

Q: What do I do about excessively sweaty and smelly feet?

A: The feet and hands possess more sweat glands than other part of the body, approximately 3000 per square inch. Feet smell for two reasons. Your feet sweat and you wear shoes. This produces an environment favorable to the growth of bacteria..bacteria which cause odor. Several things can affect how much you sweat: heredity, medications, stress, hormone changes, activity, and type of shoes can all affect perspiration and therefore odor, Any attempt at reducing the odor of the feet has to address the sweating, the shoes, and at least consider other factors that may be involved.

Keeping the feet uncovered may be effective in decreasing the problem. Powders often help absorb moisture and therefore create an unfavorable environment for the growth of the odor causing bacteria. Some powders contain enzymes that neutralize the chemicals causing the odor that is secreted by the bacteria. If you are unsuccessful at ridding your self of these problems, call your podiatrist.

Q: I have such dry skin that frequently cracks open and bleeds. What do I do to help this?

A: Many of us put lotion on our hands, arms, face, neck, but never think about our feet. As we walk around on hot concrete in the summer, wear sandals, get into heavily chlorinated pools...or in winter as the cold dry air sets in, we take hot showers that suck the moisture from our skin. These two extremes dry the skin of the feet to the point where it can flake, snag on your socks, or worse, develop deep cracks that are quite painful and can bleed or even get infected. Using thick creams or lotions as a regular maintenance for your feet are often effective in preventing such problems. But when they occur, the use of an antibiotic ointment or any other heavy skin cream is a good idea. The best time for application of these things is after a shower. Severe cases may require a twice a day application. In the case of persistent cracking and pain, despite your self care, call your podiatrist.

Q: My toenails are thick and discolored. What can I do for them?

A: Thick and discolored toenails can result from normal aging, trauma to the nail, psoriasis, a fungal infection, or a host of other less common causes. Often the chief complaint is pain, inability to cut them, or just cosmetic. Whatever the cause, returning the nail to a normal appearance can be quite involved. For example, if it is determined that fungus is the cause, many options exist ranging from just trimming them, to the use of topical anti-fungals, to oral anti-fungals, to surgery, or a combination of more than one of the above. Effective treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis and often a concerted effort on the parts of both the podiatrist and the patient.

Q: I keep getting ingrown toenails. What can I do to prevent them?

A: Ingrown toenails are often caused by heredity, trauma, poorly fitting shoes, improper trimming of toenails, fungus infections or any combination of these. Generally most attempts at self care will tend to make the problem worse. If you can see the corners of your toenails, keep them trimmed straight across or only slightly curved and lots of problems can be avoided. Generally, any picking or poking or digging will often make the problem worse. If your nail is excessively curled up or very wide, it may prove difficult to provide self care and you might need a small portion or possibly your entire ingrown toenail permanently removed. Call your podiatrist if you get chronically ingrown toenails.

Q: I have an open sore on my foot or ankle that doesn't seem to want to heal. What could it be?

A: An open sore that is very slow to heal is often called an ulcer. Ulcers have three main causes:

  1. Insensitivity or numbness in the foot allowing long term pressure to an area causing skin breakdown. The ulcers caused by this problem often occur on the back of the heel, tops of the toes, between the toes, or the plantar surface of the foot at the metatarsal heads (ball of the foot). These often go unnoticed as they do not hurt.
  2. Poor arterial circulation in the legs and feet allow the skin to breakdown and ulcerate. Ulcers caused by this can be found at the tips of the toes, between the toes, the heel, and the ankle. Arterial ulcers typically are quite painful.
  3. Poor quality of veins and their valves can cause a progressive darkening of skin around the insides of the ankles causing the skin to breakdown in a very painful ulcer.

Regardless of the type of ulcer or slow healing wound, it needs to be promptly evaluated to determine the cause to allow it to heal as quickly as possible. These are not typically something one should be self treating. An ulcer can easily get infected and become a limb or even a life threatening problem if ignored.


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Call Today 717-541-0988

6100 Old Jonestown Rd.
Harrisburg, PA 17112

Podiatrist - Harrisburg, Keystone Podiatric Medical Associates, 6100 Old Jonestown Rd., Harrisburg PA, 17112 717-541-0988