Posts for: December, 2019
An ingrown toenail is a common foot problem that occurs when the corner of a toenail, usually the big toe, grows into the skin. As you might imagine, this can cause pain and swelling in the affected area. If you are a healthy individual you can often treat the ingrown toenail with simple at-home care; however, patients with diabetes, nerve damage in the feet or signs of a foot infection should always see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
Causes of an Ingrown Toenail
There are several factors that could increase your risk for developing an ingrown toenail. These include:
- Heredity: if your family has a history of ingrown toenails you may be more likely to develop them, too.
- Poorly fitted shoes: shoes that are too tight and cramp up the toes can also cause painful ingrown toenails, particularly in teens whose feet are still growing rapidly
- Improper nail trimming: if you cut your nails too short or if you cut them at an angle rather than cutting them straight across you could be leaving yourself prone to an ingrown toenail
- Injury to the toe: jamming or stubbing the toe can also increase the risk of an ingrown toenail (this is most common in athletes)
Treating an Ingrown Toenail
If there are no signs of an infection (e.g. foul odor; skin that’s hot to the touch) and you are otherwise healthy then you can probably treat the ingrown toenail all by yourself from the comfort of your home. Take frequent Epsom salt soaks and apply an antibiotic cream to the area to prevent infection. Again, if there is no infection you can soak nails for several minutes so that they soften, and then gently clip away the affected area of the nail.
If you are experiencing signs of an infected ingrown toenail or if you have diabetes and develop an ingrown toenail it’s important that you seek a podiatrist’s care right away. A podiatrist can treat the infection while also removing part of or the entire nail so that it grows in properly.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
While there are certain factors such as heredity that cannot be helped, there are certainly measures you can take to reduce your risk for ingrown toenails. For one, always make sure that you wear properly fitted shoes that do not put pressure on the toes.
Secondly and most importantly, you need to know how to properly trim your toenails. Nails should be level with the tips of your toes. If nails are cut too short or if you trim your nails so they are curved at the edges rather than straight then an ingrown toenail is more likely to develop as the nail grows out.
Athletes should also make sure that they are wearing appropriate footwear for their chosen sport. Not all tennis shoes are created equally so if you have any questions about the footwear that you should wear, don’t hesitate to speak with your foot doctor.
Toenail fungus is a common problem that can be rather challenging to get rid of. While toenail fungus can happen to anyone it most often occurs in older adults. If you are noticing that one of your toenails has thickened, become brittle and turned yellow then chances are good that you are dealing with a toenail fungus.
What causes a fungal infection in the toenail?
A toenail fungal infection, known as onychomycosis, is the result of a fungal known as a dermatophyte. While less common, molds and yeasts can also infect the toenails. The reason older adults are more prone to fungal nail infections is because nails dry out as we age, which leads to cracks within the nail. These cracks make it easier for a fungal infection to get inside the nail.
Fungal is all around us. They are more often found in warm, dark, and damp places such as communal locker rooms and showers, gyms, and local swimming pools. It’s also possible to get a toenail fungus from a nail salon so it’s important to know the hygiene and sterilization practices of your local nail salon to make sure that you aren’t at risk for developing a fungal infection.
Treating Toenail Fungus
The good news it that healthy individuals may be able to tackle their toenail fungus on their own with over-the-counter medication. If you don’t have a weak immune system, diabetes or circulation problems then you may choose to try at-home treatments first before turning to a doctor. Those with circulation disorders or diabetes should see their podiatrist right away for treatment if they notice symptoms of a fungal infection. Not seeking treatment could greatly increase a person’s risk for bacterial infections and other potentially serious complications.
There are many over-the-counter products available to treat fungal infections. You will want to find a treatment that is geared specifically to treating fungal infections of the nail. Talk with your local pharmacist to find out the best treatment option. Over-the-counter antifungal medications often come in the form of a cream, ointment or nail polish that you will need to apply regularly for several weeks. If these medications don’t work then it’s time to talk with your foot doctor.
A foot doctor offers a variety of effective strategies for getting rid of toenail fungal infections. The most common treatment option is an oral antifungal medication that works systemically to kill the fungus. This medication is taken for several weeks but you won’t actually see results until the nail grows out clear, which can take up to four months or longer.
Other treatment options include:
- Medicated nail polish
- Laser fungal treatment
- Nail removal surgery (in rare cases)
If you are dealing with a pesky nail fungus then turn to your podiatrist to discover the best strategies for getting rid of this infection as quickly as possible.
Dr. Alan Discont of Chandler, AZ, understands the wear and tear of daily activities on feet, let alone foot pain when someone is suffering from an injury or has some sort of a deformity. The solution is simple though: orthotics. They are a simple way to treat pain and to deal with foot deformities and medical issues like arthritis.
Orthotics are custom-made prescription medical devices placed inside shoes to correct bio-mechanical foot issues, reduce pain, and help with other medical conditions like bursitis and flat feet.
Note that there are over-the-counter foot devices, but custom-made inserts and orthotics are best.
What can orthotics do for you?
In addition to correcting bio-mechanical foot issues and reducing pain, orthotics also:
- correct foot deformities
- help the foot or ankle function better
- provide support at the ankle
- reduce further injuries
Orthotics can also help treat many conditions or at least ease a person's discomfort. Here are a few illnesses it can help with:
- Back pain
- Flat feet
- Hammer toes
- Heel spurs
- High arches
- Plantar fasciitis
What are some steps to getting proper orthotics?
Your Chandler, AZ, podiatrist needs to first examine feet. Dr. Disont does this by taking 3D images of each foot and inspect anatomical foot features by watching you walk. He'll note how feet, ankles, legs, and hips move while you're walking to determine if there are any observable problems.
Then he'll make a precise mold of your feet so a custom orthotics device can be made.
What types of orthotics exist?
Rigid orthotics or functional orthotics: This orthotic device is made of plastic or carbon fiber, which is more suitable for walking or dress shoes (shoes with closed toes and low heels). Their main function is to ease foot aches and strains in legs, thighs, and the lower back.
Soft orthotics or accommodative orthotics: This orthotic device is made of soft compression materials that cushion feet to relieve pressure off sore spots caused by certain foot diseases like foot ulcers. Soft orthotics are bulky and often require special shoes to accommodate them, so be sure to speak with your podiatrist about that.
If you have any questions about orthotics and if they're a good choice for you, then speak with your Chandler, AZ, podiatrist, Dr. Alan Discont, today!