Tag Archives: Early Detection

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:

Flat Feet

If the entire sole of your foot touches the ground when you stand, then you probably have Flat Feet. Flat Feet are characterized by underdeveloped arches that prevent the typical gap between the sole and the ground from forming. This condition usually develops during childhood and throughout old age, but it can also be caused by accidents or diseases severally impacting bones or tendons forming the arch. Typical consequences include:

  • Foot, hip, knee, and back pain caused by an uneven distribution of body weight
  • Misalignment of your legs
  • Numb and/or stiff feet
  • Swollen ankles
  • Prematurely worn out shoes

Individuals experiencing Flat Feet might not experience any of these symptoms; however, if you are plagued by pain and/or restrictions in body movements on a regular basis it is advised to contact a professional. Potential treatments include:

  • Stretching exercises for your lower legs to prevent feet from rolling over
  • Orthotics to align your feet and to balance weight more evenly
  • Switching to different kind of shoes
  • Pain remediation

Surgery is an option in extreme cases like abnormal bone development in your feet and can usually be prevented. Read more about Flat Feet here and don’t hesitate to contact your podiatrist if you have any questions:

Common Winter Foot Problems

As we make our way through these winter months, here are some tips to keep in mind on some of the most common problems we see in our office during the winter months:

Dry Cracked Skin

Dry cracked skin results from a lack of moisture frequently caused by the use of harsh soaps, improper footwear, and conditions such as eczema and even diabetes. Having sweaty feet and wearing wet socks often affects children. Frequently soaking your feet in warm water for 20 minutes and moisturizing them afterwards often does the trick.

Fractures

Factures often occur through athletic activities, but a slip on the sidewalk can cause fractures as well. Reports even mention that standing on a hard surface for an extended period of time can result in tiny fractures. Watch out for bruising, pain, swelling, and/or a change of color and contact your podiatrist if symptoms don’t disappear within a reasonable period of time.

Frostbite

We all know frostbite warnings and typically think about the effects the cold has on our ears, nose, and hands; however, frostbite affects your feet in a similar way. Kids especially might not realize the dangers of playing in the snow for an extended period of time. Check your kids’ feet for red/purple toes and make sure their shoes are both warm and waterproof. Get immediate help if a toe has turned black! Another risk group is people with diabetes.

Bathe your feet in warm water (100 degrees) after a long day in the cold, but avoid using a hair dryer or any other source of aggressively dry heat. Needless to say, regular foot exams will make sure you haven’t overlooked any problems and they can also determine whether you are more prone to particular problems and conditions than others. Prevention is still the best medicine after all.

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Smith - Picture (Blog. January 2017) - 11-1-17

Don’t put off foot problems. Early detection of issues is important.

Putting off problems that could potentially be harmful for us in the long-term is irresponsible. This especially applies to issues that become worse over time and can in many cases be prevented by early treatment.

Seeing your podiatrist on a regular basis to check on the status of your feet is recommended. Individuals with diabetes are especially advised to monitor their feet as glucose in your blood from diabetes can cause nerve damage and poor blood flow, which can lead to serious foot problems. Calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails, bunions, plantar warts, hammertoes, dry skin, and fungal infections might lead to severe infections and pain, thus impeding your ability to walk over time.

For more information please visit: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/prevent-diabetes-problems/Pages/keep-feet-healthy.aspx

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