Individual Care For:

Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) - An infection of the feet caused by fungus. May last for a short or long time and may come back after treatment. Athlete's foot causes scaling, flaking, and itching of the affected skin. Blisters and cracked skin may also occur, leading to exposed raw tissue, pain, swelling, and inflammation. Treatment for Athlete's foot includes meticulous hygiene, and keeping the feet dry at all times. Use of over the counter antifungal medication is very often adequate. Seek medical help if two weeks of careful self-treatment is unsuccessful. Secondary bacterial infection can accompany the fungal infection, sometimes requiring a course of oral antibiotics. top

Bunions - A bunion develops when there is a gradual dislocation of the big toe joint. The turning in of the toe and bump on the inside edge of the joint can be painless, unless accompanied by corns, calluses, osteoarthritis or inflammation. Bunions occur more commonly in women and can sometimes run in families. People born with abnormal bones in their feet are more likely to form a bunion. Wearing narrow-toed, high-heeled shoes may accelerate the development of a bunion. Treatment is limited to reduction of pain associated with the bunion and wearing shoes that are generous enough to accommodate the bunion. In severe cases, surgical intervention is recommended. top

Calluses - A thickened pad (accumulation of dead skin), usually on the weight-bearing portion of the sole, or the outside of the big and little toes. They are the result of chafing and pressure. Treatment for calluses begins with proper fitting footwear. Padding with moleskin, foam, or gel callus pads may help to spread the weight or pressure if the callus is on the ball of the foot. Most calluses can be managed through regular filing and moisturizing. top

Corns - a highly concentrated callus that occurs at a pressure point. Corns are usually attributed to tight fitting shoes and stockings, high-heeled shoes, or loose fitting shoes. Misshapen toes can result in corns. Hard corns are treated by filing the excess dead skin until normal skin appears. Soft corns appear between the toes where the bones of the two adjacent toes exert pressure. Treatment of soft corns begins with drying the soft corn using lambswool, pads, or separators then treat as a hard corn. Wearing proper fitting footwear is the best way to prevent corns. top

Dry cracked heels - Dry skin results from loss of the protective lipid layer on the skin surface. The breakdown of the protective lipids allows for loss of moisture to the environment. As skin becomes more dry and scaly it may crack or fissure, creating an opportunity for infection. Treatment of dry skin includes regular application of moisturizer, avoiding the area between the toes. Creams are often better than lotions because they contain more oils. top

Thickened toenails Nails can thicken in response to pressure and other age related processes, but thick nails are most often associated with a fungus. Fungus may affect all or part of one nail, or all nails. Fungal nails may become foggy, dry and brittle, and may be gray, yellow, brown, or black in color. A fungal infection usually starts at the end of the nail and progresses toward the nail root as it travels. The nail can separate from the nailbed and fall off. The condition is usually painless, so it is often ignored. Fungus is difficult to eradicate completely because it can lie dormant and resurface later. top

Ingrown nails - a painful condition that occurs when the nail grows into one or both sides of the paronychium or nail bed. The skin appears red and inflamed and may become infected. May be caused by hereditary factors involuted or horseshoe shaped nails, or can develop from improper footwear, or improper cutting of nails. Leaving the nail long enough to grow past the skin and filing the corners to avoid spicules and sharp corners can help. In more severe cases, a portion of the nail may need to be removed by a professional. Seek medical attention if infection is present. top

Hammer or claw toes - Are toes that do not have a usual shape. They can be the result of injury, or hereditary factors. This occurs predominantly in the four smaller toes, not the big toe. The joint or joints fuse holding the toe in a position where the tip of the toe is continually pressed to the floor, or the toe is raised higher than the rest of the toes. Hammer and Claw toes are usually painless unless a corn or callus develops at a point of pressure or friction. top

Diabetic feet Are feet at risk. Diabetes can lead to poor circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Diabetics suffering from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that they may not be aware of due to the insensitivity. If these minor injuries are left untreated, they may lead to ulceration, infection, gangrene, and possibly even amputation. Control of blood sugar is imperative to prevent neuropathy. Regular inspection of the feet can catch minor injuries before they become problematic. Wear proper fitting footwear and inspect footwear regularly for breakdown, and to ensure there are no pebbles or other irritants inside. top