Different Types of Foot Problems and Prevention
Problems with the feet can be very painful. You feel it in every step and can occur when you least expect it. The most common problem is hard skin or callus. This will occur over those area which take the most pressure which can lead to corn formation.
Fungal infections are very irritating and will effect many people at sometime in their lives - and it doesn't just affect athletes, although the term "Athlete's foot" suggests otherwise.
Corns, Hard Skin and a little about Biomechanics
Corns and hard skin appear wherever there is excess pressure. Some are inherited, some develop from illnesses or from pressure of ill-fitting shoes This pressure causes the body to try and protect itself by increasing the amount of skin over the area. This, however, can lead to a great deal of pain.
Some people are more likely to develop foot problems than others, but ill-fitting shoes hasten the onset of the problem.
Through Biomechanics - the study of locomotion - State Registered Chiropodists are able to tell if your particular style of walking may be causing your problem. If this is the case then you will need to have insoles (also called orthotics) moulded to the shape of your foot, which corrects any abnormalities in the way you walk.
Never treat your corns or hard skin yourself with corn knives or corn plasters because it is very easy to either get an infection through cutting the skin, or a serious burn from the acid incorporated in the plaster. Always see a State Registered Chiropodist for treatment. You may be offered various forms of padding to reduce the excess pressure in a particular area of your foot.
However, you must realise that it can be very difficult to totally cure the problem of corns and hard skin, and may require regular check ups.
Verrucae and warts
Verrucae and warts are caused by similar viruses. The are very contagious but normally disappear by themselves over a period of time (which can range from a couple of weeks to a few years).
They are usually only treated when they spread or if they are painful. Treatments include chemical cautery (acids) or cryotherapy (freezing).
The hard skin overlying the lesion is reduced and the area masked with an aperture pad which exposes the verruca. Acid paste or crystals are then applied and the area then covered with tape. This treatment gently burns the infected tissue and kills the virus. However, treatment will need to be applied regularly over a number of weeks.
The hard skin is reduced and the lesion sprayed with liquid nitrogen. The freezing and defrosting of the area kill the virus and it is normally a "one-off" treatment, with no further action needed. The area may blister but once this dries it should be most effective in destroying the virus.
Athlete's Foot and Fungally Infected Nails
Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection which is easily caught or passed on wherever you go barefoot. It thrives in moist warm areas of skin usually between the toes.
It starts with itchy, irritating patches of skin which may peel, turn soggy and white and then crack and bleed.
It rarely goes away on its own so it is necessary to use antifungal creams, sprays or powders.
The nail may also become infected with the same fungus. It starts at the end of the nail and it may change colour, often becoming creamy white or yellow and the underside thickens and crumbles. Without treatment it may crumble away completely whilst the fungus spreads to other nails.
An excellent medication called Lamisil can be used in tablet form to combat this condition.
Bunions and Hammer Toes
A bunion is a bump at the base of the big toe caused when the big toe is not straight. It wil make the bone at the base of the big toe stick out.
The skin can become red and sore due to rubbing against the shoe and the big toe can become swollen.
It may occur simply because another member of the family has one, that is, it may be hereditary. Although tight fitting shoes will make the problem worse.
A chiropodist can alleviate the problem using special pads or insoles. In severe cases your doctor may feel it necessary to advise an operation to correct the problem. Again, a chiropodist who has specialised in surgery can perform this operation.
Hammer toes affect the four lesser toes usually and can also be hereditary. They can cause problems on the tip of the toe or on the top of the joint.
A chiropodist can give you a silicone prop which is made for your toe to help straighten it as you walk. However, you may need an operation if the problem causes severe problems.
They look painful, don't they?
Ingrowing nails ARE very sore and will need urgent treatment and possible antibiotic therapy to reduce the infection. The nail can be removed either partially or totally under local anesthetic. A chemical called phenol is then applied to the nail matrix which prevents the nail from regrowing and so no more problems occur. Below are the stages of the operation - but be warned - it looks worse than it actually is, and is really a simple straightforward operation !
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