General foot care for nail and skin conditions
Our podiatrist is able to assess, diagnose and provide treatment for numerous nail and skin conditions affecting the feet, including fungal infections, thickened toenails, ingrown toenails, corns, calluses and plantar warts. It is also possible to have a professional pedicure if you are someone who requires medical nail care.
Fungal infections of the skin and nails of the feet are very common, affecting one in five of the population at any point during their lives. Athlete’s Foot (or Tinea Pedis) is the most common of all skin infections presented to a podiatry clinic. It is even more common for those involved with sports, where the use of communal bathing facilities is a common practice.
Often, it presents itself as macerated skin in the fourth toe cleft, which, if left untreated, will spread to other toe clefts and under the sole of the feet. It will appear as peeling skin, blistering and can often be itchy. Fungal infections of the toenails can present as discoloured, thickened and friable nails. Different types of fungal nail infections will begin from the front edge of the nail, from the nail bed and also appear superficially over the top of the nail surface.
Most fungal skin infections are simply treated with an anti-fungal cream. Antifungal powders or sprays may be advised as part of preventative management for re-infection. Fungal nail treatment is dependent upon the type and chronicity of the infection. Treatment options may include topical anti-fungal ointments, creams, or oral anti-fungal medication prescribed by your general practitioner.
Thickened toenails are a very common presentation to a podiatric practice. They cause difficulty with trimming and often will cause pain because of subsequent shoe pressure. Often, they are caused by trauma whether it is from a singular event or repetitive micro trauma from footwear.
Fungal infections, poor circulation and systemic diseases are also known to cause nails to thicken. Irrespective of the cause, the aim of podiatric treatment is to reduce the thickness of the nail to as close to its normal size as possible.
Ingrown toenails occur where a spicule or serrated edge of the nail pierces the skin at the nails edge. They are painful and can easily become infected if left untreated properly. The surrounding skin will often be red, swollen and extremely tender on slight pressure. There can also be localised sweating in the area and, if the ingrowing nail continues to penetrate the skin, healing is prevented and there is growth of excess granulation tissue, which will often overlap the nail.
Treatment is aimed at removing the offending edge of the nail and reducing pressure and irritation of the nail sulcus (skin at the side of the nail). This needs to be done by a podiatrist to ensure minimal destruction to the surrounding skin and to develop strategies to reduce the risk of reoccurrence. For reoccurring ingrown nails, there is the option to have the side of nail removed and the nail bed chemically obliterated to prevent regrowth of the nails edge.
Plantar Warts (or Verrucae) are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus. They present similar to a corn however have a spongy ‘cauliflower’ like appearance. They can present anywhere on the foot and usually affect children of school age or those with compromised immunity.
Exposure to the virus usually occurs in communal areas where being barefoot is common such as changing rooms, showers, and public swimming pools. The lesions can be singular, in a cluster, or affect multiple sites on the foot. Pain and cosmetic appearance are the main reasons for the treatment of these lesions. The lesions can resolve themselves, however this takes some time depending on the body’s immune system.
All treatment options rely on the destruction of the viral tissue in order to prompt our body’s immune response for healing. Speaking with a podiatrist can help you choose the best course of action for treatment and have treatment options explained in thorough detail.
Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are areas of hard skin caused by excessive intermittent mechanical stress on the skin causing abnormal keratinisation. Calluses are general broad plaques of hard skin, whereas corns are more localised and inverted lesions of hard skin. Both can be painful and can even result in altered gait patterns to compensate.
Management of these lesions by a podiatrist involves callus debridement and corn enucleation with a scalpel. The underlying systemic or biomechanical cause should also be addressed to minimise pain and help restore normal skin function.