A patient may seek care from a podiatrist when painful conditions of the feet or ankles cause difficulty with daily activities. Podiatry is a specialty of medicine that focuses on the feet and surrounding structures and how they interact with the rest of the body. These doctors use a number of resources to diagnose conditions…
Podiatry: What Are Common Foot Care Needs?
The treatment of diseases and conditions that affect the ankles and feet is known as podiatry. Routine foot care may help to manage symptoms and even prevent conditions from developing in the first place. Foot care is important for everyone at all ages, but it becomes more necessary with age and in the presence of certain chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. There are several concerns and preventative measures common in the field.
Common concerns in podiatry
Some foot care issues go no deeper than the skin, while others go below the surface to affect the bones and soft tissues within the foot itself.
When the skin of the feet becomes extremely dry, cracking can occur. Other symptoms include sensations of burning or itching. A moisturizer or body lotion containing lanolin or petroleum jelly can help. Use one of these products, along with a mild soap, on the feet and legs every day. It may be a good idea to apply lotion/moisturizer just before going to bed.
Calluses and corns
These can develop when shoewear rubs against the bony parts of the feet. The result is usually a hardened patch of skin that sometimes becomes painful. A podiatrist can use acid to dissolve the corn or callus itself, and special pads in the shoes can help to reduce the friction so it is less likely to come back.
Infections can be caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses. Fungal infections are sometimes known as athlete's foot. Viruses can lead to warts. Medications are usually used to treat infections such as these. However, sometimes it is necessary to remove a wart surgically.
When part of the nail cuts into the surface of the surrounding skin, it is called an ingrown toenail. If the case is extremely problematic, it may be necessary to remove all or part of the nail.
These include hammertoes, spurs and bunions. They can result from many different causes, including heredity, arthritis and constrictive footwear. Surgery may be necessary to correct the deformities if other treatments are unsuccessful.
In addition to addressing foot care issues as they arise, there are additional steps patients can take to help prevent podiatry problems in the first place.
Wear well-fitting shoes
Footwear that fits well and is comfortable can go a surprisingly long way toward preventing these types of problems. Look for the following characteristics:
- Low heel
- Thick, non-slippery soles
- Soft, flexible material on the upper
Measure the feet before buying new shoes. Foot width can increase over time.
Poor blood flow to the feet can cause some conditions and complicate others. You can promote circulation with exercise, warm foot baths and behavior modifications. For example, avoid wearing tight elastic socks and avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
Perform foot inspections
It is a good idea to check the feet on a regular basis for any abnormalities. People who cannot easily reach their feet can ask a family member to do this.
A number of conditions can affect the feet. Fortunately, regular foot care can identify, treat and sometimes prevent these ailments. Otherwise a visit to a podiatry office may be in order.
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