Understanding what is happening in your feet is an important step in being able to properly address the issue. Such is the case with skin and toenail conditions that can arise. Even more importantly, having an understanding of these conditions can help you prevent them from happening in the first place. At Haro Podiatry & Laser Center, we provide professional guidance whenever you need treatment for any lower limb problems.
Potential Skin Issues for Feet
Skin issues can clearly happen juts about anywhere on the body, but the feet are particularly susceptible for a couple of different reasons. First, unlike other areas, the feet rely on sweat, not oil, glands for moisture. Second, they face tremendous amounts of pressure and force throughout the course of an average day. Finally, feet are often enclosed in socks and shoes, which can cause problems when they are either too tight or too loose.
Some of the more common skin problems for feet include:
Corns and calluses. These are related conditions, with both being formed by hardened patches of dead skin, but there are differences in appearances and causes. Calluses are flat, waxy, and form in areas subjected to excessive pressure (under the heel, ball of the foot). Corns are raised, cylindrical, and develop in response to friction in non-weight-bearing areas (between toes, sides and tops of feet).
Blisters. When shoes are too big and feet slide around within them, the layers of skin can begin to separate. As this happens, the body fills in the space between the separated layers with a clear fluid to protect the wound until the skin underneath has healed.
Plantar warts. Warts are rather common and generally harmless in nature. These growths are caused by certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). They can go away on their own in time, but this can take up to a couple of years.
Athlete's foot. When feet become itchy and reddened, the most likely explanation is this particular fungal infection. In spite of the name, you do not have to be an athlete to contract the infection. Instead, you simply need exposure to the offensive fungus and a hospitable environment (which feet often provide). Home care is usually sufficient, though some cases require podiatric intervention.
Cracked heels. As noted, feet rely on sweat glands for moisture. This is not as effective at keeping the skin moist as oil. Additionally, all the forces we place on our feet can contribute to them drying out. Fissured heels can be painful, but also increase the risk of infection.
It is debatable as to how important toenails really are in our modern life, but the fact remains they exist. In most instances, this is perfectly fine. When problems arise, though, they need to be addressed. Some of the toenail problems you can sustain include:
Ingrown toenails. Out of the various problems you might develop with your toenails, ingrown nails tend to be the most common. When the edge of a nail—often the big toe’s—grows into the soft skin flanking it, there can be discomfort, pain, and increased infection risk.
Toenail fungus. Fungal nail infections are fairly common, but it doesn’t make them any less embarrassing. You can identify this condition by toenails that are discolored, darkened or dull, distorted, crumbly, and thickened. In some cases, there is also a pungent odor. The infection will not go away on its own, so treatment is needed.
Black nails. Beyond fungal infection, toenail discoloration can also happen as a result of either bruising or bleeding from the soft tissue residing beneath the nail. This is known as subungual hematoma and, if blood pools between the nail and its nail bed, it can lead to separation of the nail. It is important to come in for a diagnosis because, in very rare cases, a black toenail is an indication of a serious form of skin cancer (malignant melanoma).
Comprehensive Foot Care at Haro Podiatry & Laser Center
We provide many foot and ankle services for our patients here at Haro Podiatry & Laser Center, including those to treat skin and toenail conditions. For more information, call us at 973-755-7775 to request an appointment with either our Clifton or Jersey City offices, or use our online form and connect with us today.