I am back! Summer was very busy, we had a full three months of nice weather in Seattle (which is unusual) so there were less rainy afternoons to spend blogging. I promise I wore my hat and sunscreen.
I was so flattered and happy today to meet a new patient who read my blog! You inspired me to get back on here. I have so many ideas for blog posts and it took just a little nudge to start writing.
So why I am talking about feet?Feet are so important and you take them for granted until something goes wrong. There are so many skin conditions that affect the feet and many of them are preventable. Below I discuss some common conditions and their treatments and steps for prevention.
The medical term is tinea pedis – and every will get this at some point in their life. A mild case often starts with little cuts or cracks between your toes. This can spread to involve peeling and redness on the entire foot (or both feet). It can even spread up your legs. If you notice cracks between your toes or itchy flaky skin on the feet, go to the drug store and get 1% Lamisil cream. Don’t get Lotrimin- it doesn’t work as well. Apply this to your feet and between the toes twice a day for a month. Get the spray and spray your athletic shoes and consider getting rid of shoes that are really smelly. The reason why you need to treat athlete’s foot:
- It can get into your toenails- and this is REALLY hard to treat.
- It can be a risk for other infections – especially if you have diabetes or a condition that affects your immune system.
- It makes your feet and shoes smell bad.
It is hard to prevent this condition 100%, but keeping your feet covered when you are at the gym or at yoga, at the pool or in the locker room. If you forget your shower shoes at the gym- wear socks! Avoid walking on any floors that are not your own with bare feet. If you find yourself getting athletes foot frequently use Lamisil cream weekly as prevention.
Dry & cracking skin (especially heels)
Unfortunately as we age our skin gets more dry, especially the legs and feet. The “dust” you see when you pull off your socks- that is dry skin. Summer is terrible for your feet with lots of swimming, sweaty socks and flip flops. Keeping your skin soft will help prevent the thick skin and cracks. If your feet are in pretty good shape, get a heavy cream or vaseline and apply it nightly, lotion will not do the job. If you have thick skin or cracks try using a cream with lactic acid or urea (available at the drugstore- common brands Carmol and Amlactin). If this doesn’t work you might need a prescription for compounded cream (there is a wonderful cream called Whitfield’s ointment that works miracles).
The dreaded warts. I tell my husband if he doesn’t enforce the “water shoes at the pool” rule at all times- then he has to take the kids for wart treatment- and this is not fun. If you think you have a wart on your foot start treatment immediately. Plantar warts will sometimes go away, but more often they get bigger and deeper. The longer you leave a wart the harder it is to treat.
You can get wart treatment at the drugstore. Look for a product with a high percentage of salicylic acid, 17-40%. Dr. Scholls and Compound W are common brands.
To treat the wart: soak in water for a few minutes to soften, then apply the medication directly to the wart and cover with a band-aid. Every week file down the wart. Repeat this until it is gone, which usually takes at least 3-4 weeks. If you don’t treat to resolution it will come back. If you aren’t getting anywhere see your doctor- don’t let warts go untreated.
DO NOT IGNORE THIS! Toenail fungus is incredibly difficult to treat once it gets deeply into the nail. Topical medications rarely work (about 10-15% of the time with daily application for a year) – not even ones that advertise during football games. If you treat early, topical have a better chance of working – so see your doctor early if you suspect toenail fungus. Lasers don’t work, so don’t waste your money. If you have an advanced or even moderate infection, the only real cure is taking a pill for at least four months.
I am obsessive on preventing toenail fungus. See all the tips above – keep your feet covered in public places, treat athlete’s foot early AND a very important tip – if you get pedicures make sure all the instruments are autoclave and more importantly, files/buffers/brushes are SINGLE use. Do not let anyone reuse a nail file. If you want to be safe, bring your own pedicure tools AND polish.
Hopefully these tips will help keep your feet healthy as we wrap up the summer. I apologize if I ruined your fun running around the pool in bare feet this weekend (please don’t do that).