Category Archives: Foot Care

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:

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:

Laser MLS Therapy

Dr. Smith and Dr. Buckrop use MLS Laser Therapy as an innovative treatment to successfully reduce pain and inflammation – 90% of patients experience significant and quick improvements of their symptoms after only three to four sessions.

MLS stands for Multiwave Locked System, which means two different kinds of lasers are locked onto the affected area on the foot simultaneously. The lasers’ energy increases blood circulation, cell growth, and helps damaged tissue heal. MLS Laser Therapy has the following benefits:

  • Pain- free
  • Session takes less than 10 minutes
  • Positive effects often emerge already within 24 hours
  • Acute conditions might only require one session
  • No negative side effects during or after the application
  • Can be used to treat chronic conditions
  • Non-invasive

This FDA approved therapy can be used to treat the following foot problems:

  • Swelling
  • Neuropathy
  • Tissue injuries
  • Inflammation
  • Vascular conditions
  • Muscle Soreness

Dr. Kevin Smith DPM has become the first podiatrist in the Quad-Cities to offer MLS Laser Therapy to his patients, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment in order to find out whether Laser Therapy will work for you! In the meantime, learn more about this method of treatment here.

How Does Cancer Affect My Foot Health?

When most of us think about the health impact of various cancers and the therapies that treat them, we commonly envision hair loss, nausea, and a loss of appetite. However, we don’t often think about how our foot health and comfort can be altered while undergoing treatment. Several side-effect conditions can form including Chemotherapy-induced Peripheral Neuropathy and Hand-Foot Syndrome. They can cause discomfort, cracking skin, numbness, and difficulty walking that may worsen if improperly treated or not addressed at all, adding to the already harrowing task of battling cancer.

Hand-Foot Syndrome

Also known as Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia, Hand-Foot Syndrome is typically characterized by sunburn-like redness, swelling, a burning or tingling sensation and cracking and flaking blisters on your hands and feet. Symptoms are often reported as early as 2 to 12 days after chemo treatments have begun and are exacerbated by excessive friction that tight-fitting shoes or socks can cause when the feet swell. Some cancer treatments can change the way skin cells and capillaries in the hands and feet grow which can cause chemotherapy to leech into the surrounding tissue, causing damage.

Medicinal treatments should be done at a doctor’s recommendation, however there are remedies you can use at home. Avoiding heat is a major necessity. Hot water soaks can actually cause further irritation and damage to the dry skin. Instead, try cooling the bottom of your feet with ice packs, cool running water or a wet towel. Avoiding intense friction and picking at the dead skin can also help the healing process. Instead of rubbing dry, patting afflicted areas dry, wearing loose fitting shoes or cotton gloves can avoid furthering harm to your feet and hands. Even walking barefoot can cause more friction than is recommended, instead, try soft slippers or thick socks to help protect your feet and give you a little comfort.

Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

CIPN is comprised of several symptoms caused by damage or irritation of nerves that carry feeling sensations from the limbs, hands and feet to the central nervous system like the brain and spinal cord. Some chemotherapy drugs can cause damage to the peripheral nerves and make mobility and comfort difficult during treatment. Symptoms can include general pain, burning sensations, loss of feeling, temperature sensitivity and muscle weakness, among others. Pain in the feet cause changes in gait or difficulty moving which can exaggerate or continue foot problems even after treatment has concluded.

CIPN is a complex phenomenon and your doctor can provide the best solutions to dealing with the complications it can cause, but there are things you can do on your own to help mitigate or try to prevent its onset. Clinical results have been varied, however, some studies suggest that nutrient rich supplements and diets can help in treating the symptoms of CIPN. B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium and magnesium have shown some success. The best way to prevent CIPN or treat it is to communicate with your healthcare team and doctors who can adjust chemo dosage and other aspects of your care routine to mitigate discomfort.

Please find more information here:

How to Avoid Winter Foot Conditions

Even though the holidays are officially over and temperatures have been normalizing a bit, be mindful that sudden temperature drops may happen anytime and cause uncomfortable foot conditions. This is even more relevant for those who participate in winter sports.  So, here are the top five winter foot conditions:

1. Chilblains

Chilblains occur when the blood vessels in your skin do not respond in time to sudden temperature changes. Symptoms may include small, itchy red spots, blistering or skin ulcers, and swollen burning skin. In order to avoid chilblains, limit your exposure to cold, cover all exposed skin as much as possible, bundle up to keep your body warm and do not smoke.

2. Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Raynaud’s Phenomenon occurs when your blood circulation is limited in certain areas of your body, especially your fingers and toes.  This low blood circulation causes these areas of your body to feel numb and cold. This often happens due to cold temperatures or stress. Prevent Raynaud’s Phenomenon by keeping your house and office warm and by being cautious when you are outdoors.

3. Skier’s Toe

Are you a fan of skiing? While it is certainly fun, please keep in mind your toes. If you notice your toenail has become black, it is likely you have bleeding under your nail, or “subungual hematoma”. This condition can be caused by trauma or continuous use of tight shoes. Make sure your socks fit and your boots have enough room for your toes to avoid this condition.

4. Morton’s Neuroma

Did you know winter boots may cause Morton’s Neuroma if they don’t fit properly?  With this condition, you can feel as if you are standing on a pebble in your shoes, experience a burning pain in the ball of your foot, as well as tingling or general numbness. Morton’s Neuroma may lead to foot deformities, so get fitting shoes and ask your podiatrist for treatment options.

5. Blisters

Similar to Morton’s Neuroma and Skier’s toe, foot blisters are caused by unfit shoes. To best prevent the condition, wear well-fitting socks and shoes. Do not attempt to wear those non-returnable unfit pairs of boots you got for Christmas. If you do get a blister, avoid popping it yourself. Instead, clean it with disinfectant and cover it with a bandage for protection. If it opens, make sure you pay a visit to your trusted podiatrist as soon as possible.