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.

Loose the Heel Pain – and Heal Pain!

The American Podiatric Medical Association conducted a study that found nearly 77% of Americans suffer from heel pain, but only about a third of those people seek expert care to alleviate it. Any sort of pain or discomfort can make day to day activities, well… a real pain. Don’t think pain is normal and you should push through, seeking professional help can get you on the path from heel pain to healed pain!

Achilles Tendinitis

One of the causes of heel pain, especially in runners, is Achilles tendinitis, which results from the overuse and strain of the Achilles tendon. Most commonly caused by repetitive strain on your tendon, the risk for Achilles tendinitis increases with age, higher blood pressure and using worn-out shoes with little support. The most common symptom of Achilles tendinitis is pain on or above the heel. Symptoms typically start gradually with an aching or burning pain that is aggravated by exercise. Some patients might even notice the back of their foot where the tendon runs is warm to touch and slightly enflamed or swollen. Don’t want to worry about Achilles tendinitis? Daily calf stretches, proper shoes and combining low-impact activities into your work out can significantly reduce strain.

Stress Fractures

Stress Fractures are another cause of heel pain.  These are most commonly from repeated excessive stress, but can also come from osteoporosis.  By increasing strain too quickly, the bone does not have time to adapt to the increased pressure and this increased pressure can cause tiny cracks and stress points to form a full break or fracture. Unlike plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis which affect soft tissue and tendons, stress fractures happen in the bones of your foot which means stretching and ‘walking it off’ can actually make your pain worse and cause more damage.

Depending on the severity of your pain and damage, there are a variety of ways podiatrists can help. More often than not, rest is a huge factor in recovering from excessive strain and stress fractures. Our feet are used so often and intensely in our day to day lives, it’s difficult for them to recover while in constant use. Lightening workouts or including low-impact elements as mentioned before can also help for those who simply cannot stay off their feet. As always, prevention is more effective than repair! Proper foot wear, listening when your body says “stop!” and staying hydrated are just a few ways to keep you up and going.

Plantar Warts – Identification & Prevention

What are Plantar Warts?

Similar to other warts, plantar warts are caused by an infection of the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).  Plantar warts usually appear on the heel or ball of your foot, anywhere where large amounts of friction and pressure are applied.  This virus enters your body through tiny cuts, lesions or breaks in the bottom of your feet. Although Plantar Warts can affect anyone, they are more common among children, teenagers and people with weakened immune systems. Plantar warts are not a serious health concern and go away untreated or with home remedy treatments. But, if they become painful, start bleeding, reoccur or multiply please see your Podiatrist.

How to Identify Plantar Warts?

Plantar Warts are small, rough and appear on the soles or heels of the feet. Plantar warts can be flat and commonly grow inward under a hard, thick layer of skin such as the calluses on your feet. They can be a single wart or grow in a cluster also known as mosaic warts. Additionally, plantar warts may appear to have tiny black pinpoints inside the wart, also known as wart seeds. Don’t worry, these are just clotted blood vessels. Plantar warts usually grow slowly, but are easily identifiable because they often cause pain or tenderness in the area of the foot affected when walking or standing.

How to Prevent Plantar Warts?

It is hard to say how each person’s immune system will react to encountering HPV, but the spread of plantar warts is usually caused by coming in contact with an infected surface. Since it thrives in warm, moist environments, avoid walking barefoot in locker rooms, swimming pools and public shower rooms. Use shower sandals, keep your feet dry, always wear clean shoes and socks and avoid sharing socks with other people. To avoid spreading plantar warts, avoid direct contact with people who have them.  If you have a wart, do not scratch them.  Scratching can help plantar warts spread quickly to other smaller cuts and lesions.  Last, always cover your warts in warm environments to avoid getting more and spreading to others.

Learn more about Plantar Warts here:

Insurance Card Updates – Presented by our own Sarah Mueller

There have been some slight changes when it comes to the use of insurance cards, so we want to update you right away! Acting as our guide is Sarah Mueller. Sarah is a Quad City native who has been a terrific part of our office for three years now. She loves what she does, so she has been kind enough to explain these recent developments.

Medicare and many other providers have updated their insurance cards to make them more secure for patients. Because of this change, we are asking all of our patients to bring in their updated insurance card, as well as their most recent list of medications with dosages to their appointments. This allows us to bring you the best care possible, seamlessly and easily. We are not alone in this update, many medical offices across the country are participating in this new practice.

Sarah reassures us that if you don’t have your new card or an updated list on hand, they are easy to organize! For a new card, simply contact your insurance provider or employer if your insurance is through them, and ask them. Some patients will have received them already and some might still be waiting for them to arrive, so your provider will be able to tell you where you are in this process. For a recent list of medications with dosages, you can contact your primary care physician, or in some cases your pharmacy, and they can provide you with that information. Do not worry if you forget your medication list at your next appointment, in most cases we are able to call your physician and acquire it that way, but this takes more time.

Don’t worry about billing! All of the same documentation will be used as before, and by providing your new card, we can ensure you will see no lapses in coverage, billing or care. Our goal in this update is to continue to provide you with top-tier foot care and pain treatment in the most secure way possible. By bringing your new insurance card and up-to-date medication list, you are helping us ensure we are giving you the most effective course of treatment and putting the spring back in your step as quickly as possible! Of course, if you ever have any questions, feel free to drop by the office or give us a call at (309) 762-7919.

Diagnosing Toenail Fungus

According to the American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society, up to 20% of Americans suffer from toenail fungus – also called onychomycosis or tinea unguium. The prevalence of fungi even increases by age, and people over 60 are especially affected.

Once fungi enter the surface of the nail, the following infection frequently causes the nail to become darker and thicker, displays white marks and can develop an odor. Other toes as well as fingernails can be affected quickly. Event walking might become an issue when a painful infection is accompanied by other bacterial or yeast infections. Read more about how to prevent toenail fungus here.

Treating toenail fungus is a tedious process and usually requires medication. Medication needs to be taken for several months as the infected toenails need to grow out. Stopping any treatment too early will negatively impact the healing process.  Unnecessarily prolonging a treatment is never advised due to the exposure of side effects. Side effects of affordable and effective antifungal drugs may include liver damage and other complications. Other drugs may not pose any risk to the liver, but their effectiveness is questionable and their price can be significantly higher.

Having your podiatrist analyze your feet to make a professional diagnosis is key to choosing an appropriate treatment plan, especially as conditions like psoriasis and the following only look like a fungal infection:

  • Green nails can be caused by pseudomonas bacteria and cause a similar odor.
  • Darkish red nails can be caused by hematoma.
  • Yellowish nails can be caused by onycholysis.
  • Other discolorations can be caused by trauma or paronychia.
  • Find more information on conditions mimicking toenail fungus here.

Treatment may additionally be impacted by factors like patients’ general health, age, existing conditions, and insurance coverage. Only a professional can diagnose toenail fungus and choose a treatment plan whose benefits truly outweighs the risk. In some cases, this plan might include minor surgery.  The fact is that an early diagnosis can drastically shorten the time necessary for treatment and consequently can minimize expenditures. Please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Smith and Dr. Buckrop at 309-762-7919 if you have any questions.

You can find additional information here: