Most people have experienced something unpleasant with the skin or nails on their feet. Whether the problem is painful or simply unsightly, many people are self-conscious about their feet—especially in sunny Arizona, where people seem to live in sandals all year long.
If you often find yourself foregoing the pool for activities that do not require bare feet, you are not alone. Whether you have ingrown or fungal nails or an embarrassing skin issue, you have probably tried every over-the-counter remedy you can find. Many other people have come to the same conclusion that you are arriving at—these over-the-counter “remedies” do not remedy much.
Many people do not consider nail and skin problems worthy of going to a podiatrist—they assume that we only handle bone, nerve, and soft tissue problems. In fact, Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona offer effective solutions for a wide variety of nail and skin complaints, and can get you back to enjoying beautiful, healthy feet quickly!
Foot Woes: Common Skin & Nail Issues
Suspicious Skin Lesions and Skin Cancer
In the Valley of the Sun, vigilance is key when it comes to skin cancer prevention and treatment. Many people develop strange lesions and marks on the tops of their feet and around their nail beds, which are common places for cancer to go unnoticed. If you have a suspicious lesion, our practice offers dermatologic services for determining the presence of cancer and removing any cancerous growth.
Ingrown toenails are one of the most common nail complaints we see here, and they affect people of all ages. Most often found on the big toe, ingrown toenails occur when the edges of the nail plate begin growing abnormally and dig into the skin beside the nail. This can result in inflammation and infections that can be very painful.
Why does the nail begin growing in the wrong directions? Most commonly, people trim their big toenail too short, and round the edges as they would their fingernails. Occasionally, very tight shoes can cause ingrown nails, and some people drew the short genetic stick and are predisposed to ingrown toenails.
Corns & Calluses and Warts, Oh My!
Our feet are pretty bony, and we subject them to a lot of torture, from exercise to crazy shoes. With no real padding and very thin skin, our feet have to look out for themselves; they do this by forming corns and calluses.
Calluses and corns may not be painful at first, but over time they can grow and become very uncomfortable. At-home treatments and remedies do not do much to cure them, and may even open the door for infection. If you have a corn or callus that has become a nuisance, come see us at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona today.
Plantar warts are another nuisance that can evolve into painful problems over time. Most often found in children, warts begin with a virus entering the skin on the bottom of the foot. While warts generally “want” to grow outward, pressure on the bottom of the foot can push these warts inward, which can be very painful. Alas, the duct tape cure was simply a folk remedy; to kick these warts for good, you will the need the assistance of a podiatrist.
You probably remember the silly commercial for the antifungal that was meant to treat athlete’s foot—a cartoon man with his feet on fire. While these primitive commercials were not scientific, they captured the feeling of athlete’s foot perfectly: burning and stinging.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that can lead to painful blisters and cracking of the skin. The infection commonly starts between the toes, and spreads throughout the foot. It can even spread to the groin and armpits if left untreated.
Once the infection reaches places like the soles of your feet or your nail beds, it can be very difficult to eradicate. Topical medication alone cannot penetrate your nails or calloused skin, so we will prescribe a combination of topical and oral medications to attack the infection from the inside and outside.
Skin Allergies in Feet
It’s easy, and completely natural, to assume your itchy feet are the result of athlete’s foot. While this is certainly a strong possibility, you should also consider that perhaps you are suffering from one of the many skin allergies that can be found in feet. The best way to understand what is actually happening—and then find the relief you need—is to contact our team at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
When people think of allergic reactions, it is common to presume it’s either from touching or ingesting some kind of material. In such instances, particularly in the case of touch, the reaction is called allergic contact dermatitis (or simply “dermatitis”). When your skin makes direct contact with even a small amount of an allergen, you might develop scaly, itchy, swollen, red, or bumpy skin at the point of contact.
Poison oak, ivy, and sumac are potential sources of this skin allergy. The itchy, red rash you develop is due to an oily coating that covers these plants. Unlike with other allergens, you do not have to actually touch those plants – contact with pets, clothing, or gardening tools that have been exposed to the oil can pass it along to you.
If you are experiencing welts that feel painful and itchy on your feet, it could be the result of a skin disorder known as angioedema, caused by skin allergies. Though it most commonly affects the skin around your lips and eyes, it can also affect your feet. Substances that lead to these allergies include: berries, eggs, insect bites, animal dander, antibiotics, and shellfish. Extreme temperatures and sunlight can also potentially cause itching sensations. Additional symptoms can include cramping and difficulty breathing.
Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
Eczema—the most common skin allergy—is prominently found in children. One in five infants are actually affected by this condition, but it is only noted in about one in fifty adults.
Experts believe eczema is due to a “leaky” skin barrier, which causes the skin to be prone to inflammation, irritation, and dryness from environmental factors. Those who have this condition may also have a food sensitivity that can exacerbate the eczema symptoms. Antihistamines are not effective in controlling the symptoms, since the itch associated with eczema is not caused by histamine (unlike with hives). Eczema is frequently associated with food allergies, hay fever, and asthma.
Most commonly, but not exclusively, found in women, dyshidrotic eczema causes blisters along the feet. These small blisters are filled with fluid and tend to be rather itchy. Affected skin will usually be red and flakey, and scratching only worsens the itchiness (and can also lead to infection). The exact cause of this particular type of eczema is unknown, but tends to be more prevalent in people who have other allergies.
When your immune system releases histamine, it leads to an inflammation of the skin that causes tiny blood vessels to leak and swell. When this happens in the deep layers of your skin, it is called angioedema. This is the source of the welts commonly associated with urticaria.
There are two different kinds of urticaria – acute and chronic. Acute urticaria happens when you break out into hives after you eat a specific food or come into contact with a certain trigger. It can also be onset by non-allergic causes, as well. Heat, exercise, foods, insect bites, and medications are all triggers for this condition.
Chronic urticaria, on the other hand, is rarely caused by such specific triggers, so allergy tests do not often provide help. Chronic cases can last for months or even years. Hives may often be uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but they are not contagious.
You Do Not Have to Live With Your Painful, Embarrassing Skin & Nail Problems
Many people often try every drugstore remedy they can think of to treat their skin and nail problems before turning to us for help weeks or months later. If you have a complaint or concern about the skin and nails on your feet, call us today to schedule an appointment