Foot Protection – Winter Edition

Don’t let the weather have control over your feet. Whether you are shoveling, sledding, or simply walking through the snow it is important to make sure your feet are properly protected. Harsh winter conditions can often have a negative effect on your feet. Here are some tips on how to keep your feet protected and healthy this winter.

Proper footwear

Although this may seem obvious, it is extremely important to wear the correct shoes for winter. No matter what type of boot you decide to wear this winter, make sure they are waterproof. Snow and slush are unavoidable, so investing in a pair of waterproof boots is essential to keep your feet dry. It is also important to get your winter boots in a slightly larger size to be able to fit thicker socks and multiple layers. However, when participating in winter activities such as skiing or snowboarding, it is important to make sure your boots fight snug and comfortably. Boots that are too big can create instability and if your boots are too tight they can cause blisters.

Warm toes are happy toes

Not only are the type of boots you wear important, but so are your socks. This winter layering is your friend. A thin sock and an outer layer of a wool sock is a perfect combination for keeping your toes warm and comfortable. Although the temperatures can become extremely frigid, your feet still sweat. Avoid wearing cotton socks and look in to getting a pair of sweat-wick socks that won’t absorb your sweat like cotton socks do. This is a great way to avoid any problems of athlete’s foot this winter. Feet play a large role in body temperature, so make your feet a priority this winter

Keep your feet moisturized

One of the most common foot complaints in winter is dry skin, specifically cracked heels. Cracked heels, also known as “heel fissures” can be very uncomfortable and possibly painful. Like most other dry skin issues, apply lotion or moisturizing cream daily. Proper socks and footwear also play a role in protecting your feet.

Get a Grip

One way to avoid any nasty falls this winter is to make sure your boots have proper traction. Many winter boots are equipped with certain soles meant for gripping cold or wet surfaces. Generally made from rubber due to its water-proof ability, rubber soles are very effective when navigating slippery surfaces. So, do your research and make sure you’re properly equipped this winter.

Finally, always keep safety in mind. Wear proper boots, layer your socks, and take breaks to warm-up inside.

Dr. Smith: A Retrospective

As the year starts to wind down a lot of us take some time to look at all we’ve accomplished and set goals for the year ahead. I’ve been thinking about this myself and started a little walk down memory lane, looking at the events that have led to my practice here in Moline and I thought I’d share that with you in my blog for this month.

I’m often asked why I chose to practice podiatry over other areas of medicine or even over a different job. A lot of folks assume I must really like feet to be in this profession, but I like to think more about the people I’m treating and the service I’m providing. There are a lot of benefits to podiatry that other medical fields don’t have. I really enjoy the opportunity for immediate relief for my patients which is something you might not find when treating other body parts or ailments. If a patient comes in with an ingrown nail or heel pain, they can walk out with pain relief in the same visit. My practice is about the people I treat and considering those small details that can make a huge difference in my patients’ lives. It’s really a joy to be able to diagnose and treat the cause of pain a patient might have and see them walk out of the office notably better than when they walked in.

After deciding what I wanted to practice, it came down to choosing where to practice. As a Quad Cities native, it was a no brainer for me to stay in my home community. I’ve been at my current location in Moline for 3 years now. Prior to that I spent 15 years working the practice I inherited from another doctor and before that I was a resident and medical student in Chicago. I was born and raised in Davenport and all of my family lives here, so it made a lot of sense to establish my practice here. Over time, I’ve found that my patients appreciate the local touch and knowing that I live in the same community they do. There’s a level of familiarity and understanding that comes with being from the area and I’ve always enjoyed being able to share in that with my patients.

Bunions – Identification & Diagnosis

Bunions are one of the more common foot ailments – more than 20% of 18 to 65-year-olds and more than 30% of seniors are affected. Research suggests individuals have a genetic predisposition for developing bunions, meaning you are more likely to develop them if your parents or grandparents had them.

Bunions are much more than just a bump; they are a serious and often painful deformity created by the big toe being bent towards the other toes instead of facing straight forward. Wearing tight shoes, injuries, and the above-mentioned genetic disposition are prime culprits. Other potential causes include:

  • Hypermobility and laxity within the foot
  • One leg being shorter than the other
  • Loose joints
  • Low arches
  • Arthritis
  • Flat feet

Identifying Bunions seems to be easy, but they can easily be confused with the following conditions:

  • Bursitis: painful and similar appearance; mostly temporary
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: painful and similar appearance; chronic
  • Gout: painful and similar appearance; temporary or chronic

Bunions develop slowly and become more difficult to treat over the years. Early detention might prevent surgery, so please don’t wait to contact your podiatrist if you identify a bunion-like swelling that won’t disappear.

Ingrown Toenails: Cause, Identification and Prevention

Ingrown toenails occur when the side or corner of your toenail begins to grow into the skin. Either the skin will grow over the edge of the toenail or the toenail itself will grow into the skin.

Cause

The main cause of ingrown toenails are wearing shoes that crowd your toenails or are too small for your feet. This causes discomfort and your toes are forced to squeeze together inside your shoe, restricting growth and comfort. Cutting your nails too short or not on a straight angle is another common way to get an ingrown toenail. By injuring your foot or stubbing your toe, you can have a similar effect.

Identification

Ingrown toenails are often easy to identify. If you experience pain, redness or swelling around your toe or nail there is a good chance you have an ingrown toenail. Usually, the area will be tender and swell up. Ingrown toenails can be treated in several ways, but it’s important to treat them as soon as they appear to prevent any infections.

Prevention

Finding a shoe that is the right size, comfortable and protective is the best way to take care of your feet. Trim your toenails often and straight across to ensure your toenails grow straight. Learn more about ingrown toenails here.

Athlete’s Foot – Do I have it?

Hot and humid summers are the perfect environment for a condition called Athlete’s Foot (tinea pedis). Like most fungal infections, Athlete’s Foot thrives when sweat meets confined spaces, so athletes and individuals who like to wear tight shows are especially affected. It’s vital to recognize the first signs to prevent it from spreading further. The following symptoms are sorted from most common to least common.

  • Scaly red rash
  • Located in between toes, especially the smaller ones
  • Itching
  • Stinging
  • Burning
  • Infection spreading to hands, toe nails or groin area
  • Dryness of the sole
  • Blisters
  • Ulcers

Symptoms depend on the individual affected and the type of Athlete’s Foot contracted. The inter-digital type primarily affects the clefts between the toes, the moccasin type often affects the sole of the feet, and the blistering type may lead to the formation of blisters.

Blisters caused by Athlete’s Foot are often overlooked and under-estimated, because most people do not realize these are different from the usual blisters you get from walking too much. The difference is that blisters caused by fungi often appear on the sole of the foot where the skin is thickest. They ooze pus, get crusty and may leave a red scaly border behind.  This kind of Athlete’s Foot also leads to a much higher risk for infection.

These symptoms commonly indicate Athlete’s Foot; however, a definite conclusion can only be drawn by a medical professional. Treatment plans vary depending on the kind of fungus, the severity of the condition and the condition of the individual affected. Please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Smith and Dr. Buckrop if you have questions about these symptoms.