An ingrown toenail is a common foot problem that occurs when the corner of a toenail, usually the big toe, grows into the skin. As you might imagine, this can cause pain and swelling in the affected area. If you are a healthy individual you can often treat the ingrown toenail with simple at-home care; however, patients with diabetes, nerve damage in the feet or signs of a foot infection should always see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
Causes of an Ingrown Toenail
There are several factors that could increase your risk for developing an ingrown toenail. These include:
- Heredity: if your family has a history of ingrown toenails you may be more likely to develop them, too.
- Poorly fitted shoes: shoes that are too tight and cramp up the toes can also cause painful ingrown toenails, particularly in teens whose feet are still growing rapidly
- Improper nail trimming: if you cut your nails too short or if you cut them at an angle rather than cutting them straight across you could be leaving yourself prone to an ingrown toenail
- Injury to the toe: jamming or stubbing the toe can also increase the risk of an ingrown toenail (this is most common in athletes)
Treating an Ingrown Toenail
If there are no signs of an infection (e.g. foul odor; skin that’s hot to the touch) and you are otherwise healthy then you can probably treat the ingrown toenail all by yourself from the comfort of your home. Take frequent Epsom salt soaks and apply an antibiotic cream to the area to prevent infection. Again, if there is no infection you can soak nails for several minutes so that they soften, and then gently clip away the affected area of the nail.
If you are experiencing signs of an infected ingrown toenail or if you have diabetes and develop an ingrown toenail it’s important that you seek a podiatrist’s care right away. A podiatrist can treat the infection while also removing part of or the entire nail so that it grows in properly.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
While there are certain factors such as heredity that cannot be helped, there are certainly measures you can take to reduce your risk for ingrown toenails. For one, always make sure that you wear properly fitted shoes that do not put pressure on the toes.
Secondly and most importantly, you need to know how to properly trim your toenails. Nails should be level with the tips of your toes. If nails are cut too short or if you trim your nails so they are curved at the edges rather than straight then an ingrown toenail is more likely to develop as the nail grows out.
Athletes should also make sure that they are wearing appropriate footwear for their chosen sport. Not all tennis shoes are created equally so if you have any questions about the footwear that you should wear, don’t hesitate to speak with your foot doctor.
Toenail fungus is a common problem that can be rather challenging to get rid of. While toenail fungus can happen to anyone it most often occurs in older adults. If you are noticing that one of your toenails has thickened, become brittle and turned yellow then chances are good that you are dealing with a toenail fungus.
What causes a fungal infection in the toenail?
A toenail fungal infection, known as onychomycosis, is the result of a fungal known as a dermatophyte. While less common, molds and yeasts can also infect the toenails. The reason older adults are more prone to fungal nail infections is because nails dry out as we age, which leads to cracks within the nail. These cracks make it easier for a fungal infection to get inside the nail.
Fungal is all around us. They are more often found in warm, dark, and damp places such as communal locker rooms and showers, gyms, and local swimming pools. It’s also possible to get a toenail fungus from a nail salon so it’s important to know the hygiene and sterilization practices of your local nail salon to make sure that you aren’t at risk for developing a fungal infection.
Treating Toenail Fungus
The good news it that healthy individuals may be able to tackle their toenail fungus on their own with over-the-counter medication. If you don’t have a weak immune system, diabetes or circulation problems then you may choose to try at-home treatments first before turning to a doctor. Those with circulation disorders or diabetes should see their podiatrist right away for treatment if they notice symptoms of a fungal infection. Not seeking treatment could greatly increase a person’s risk for bacterial infections and other potentially serious complications.
There are many over-the-counter products available to treat fungal infections. You will want to find a treatment that is geared specifically to treating fungal infections of the nail. Talk with your local pharmacist to find out the best treatment option. Over-the-counter antifungal medications often come in the form of a cream, ointment or nail polish that you will need to apply regularly for several weeks. If these medications don’t work then it’s time to talk with your foot doctor.
A foot doctor offers a variety of effective strategies for getting rid of toenail fungal infections. The most common treatment option is an oral antifungal medication that works systemically to kill the fungus. This medication is taken for several weeks but you won’t actually see results until the nail grows out clear, which can take up to four months or longer.
Other treatment options include:
- Medicated nail polish
- Laser fungal treatment
- Nail removal surgery (in rare cases)
If you are dealing with a pesky nail fungus then turn to your podiatrist to discover the best strategies for getting rid of this infection as quickly as possible.
Heel pain can make it difficult to perform routine activities, such as walking or standing for extended periods. Depending on how severe the heel pain, it might even prevent you from participating in some activities, such as working out. The good news is several options are available for treating heel pain. A podiatrist can develop a treatment plan for you based on the cause and severity of your heel pain. At AAL Podiatry Associates, Dr. Jesse Anderson is your podiatrist for the treatment of heel pain in Norfolk, PA, and Suffolk, VA.
Causes of Heel Pain
Heel pain can be the result of many different factors. Performing repetitive motions can cause heel pain due to the repeated strain and stress those motions put on the feet. Other causes of heel pain include:
- Heel spurs
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Stress fractures
- Foot injuries
Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are some of the most common causes of heel pain. The two conditions often occur in conjunction with one another. Heel spurs are actually calcium deposits that form on the bottom of the heels. The pressure and impact of every step you take can cause the heel spurs to get press into the heel, which can lead to extensive discomfort and pain.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition affecting the plantar fascia tissues that run along the bottom of the feet. When those tissues become irritated and inflamed, pain can be felt along the arch of the foot and at the bottom of the heel. Plantar fasciitis is more likely to develop in people who overpronate when walking or running. Overpronating involves the feet rolling inward. This motion tends to put tension on the plantar fascia tissues, which causes them to stretch too much and become inflamed.
Treating Heel Pain
There are several options for treating heel pain. Dr. Anderson can discuss various options and develop an effective treatment plan for you. In Norfolk, heel pain can be treated through the following methods:
- Physical therapy
- Stretching exercises
- Orthotic foot supports
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
Do not ignore your heel pain. Depending on the cause, heel pain will not necessarily go away on its own. Treatment can alleviate the pain and address the cause so the condition does not worsen. For the treatment of heel pain in Norfolk, PA, schedule an appointment with Dr. Anderson by calling AAL Podiatry Associates at (757) 625-2962. For the Suffolk, VA, office, call (757) 539-2098.
While heel pain is a common problem this doesn’t mean that it should just be brushed aside or considered a small matter. Untreated heel pain can lead to long-term pain and other problems. While there are many causes of heel pain the most common cause is plantar fasciitis. This condition causes irritation and inflammation within the thick band of tissue (known as the plantar fascia) that runs along the soles of the feet from the toes to the heel.
The telltale sign of plantar fasciitis is that the heel pain occurs under the heel beneath the heel bone. The pain may radiate to the arches of the feet because the plantar fascia provides support to the arches, as well. Heel pain may be worse first thing in the morning or after long bouts of inactivity. You may notice that your heel pain gets better with movement and exercise but gets worse immediately after.
Many people can treat plantar fasciitis effectively with at-home care; however, if your symptoms are severe, become worse or aren’t responding to conservative home treatments after five days then it’s time to see your podiatrist. A podiatrist will be able to provide you with answers as to what is causing your heel pain and how to best treat it.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis
Simple, conservative measures are usually all that’s needed to treat heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. This includes:
- Resting and avoiding exercise and high-impact activities that will make symptoms worse
- Icing the heel and arches of the feet up to 20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times a day
- Wearing supportive shoes with a low heel
- Placing custom orthotics within shoes for additional support
- Performing specific foot stretching and strengthening exercises
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce pain and swelling
- Wearing a night splint to reduce morning pain and stiffness
Your foot doctor can show you a variety of exercises to perform that can alleviate heel pain and stiffness associated with plantar fasciitis. A podiatrist can also make prescription shoe inserts to provide your feet with the proper cushioning and structural support they need to reduce pressure points and improve the biomechanics of your feet.
Those with severe and persistent heel pain may require more aggressive treatment options such as ultrasound, steroid injections or shockwave therapy. Chronic plantar fasciitis may even require surgery to get rid of inflammation and tension within the plantar fascia. Surgery is rare but may be necessary when other treatment options have failed to properly manage and treat symptoms.
If you are dealing with heel pain for the first time it’s a good idea to see a podiatrist who can determine the cause of your pain and provide you with a customized treatment plan to get your heel pain under control.
Backpacks, paper, pencils, and clothes are just a few of the things your youngster may need before the start of a new school year. When shopping for your child during the back-to-school season and throughout the year, don’t forget to add proper fitting shoes to your shopping list.
Your child’s feet are rapidly changing and growing. In fact, feet grow so fast when kids are young that parents are often surprised at how often they need to change shoe sizes to accommodate the growth.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, parents should consider a few things when selecting shoes for their little one. Remember these tips the next time you buy a new pair of shoes for your child:
- Proper size: Ill-fitting footwear can lead to irritation and other problems, so always measure your child’s feet before buying a new pair of shoes. Because feet are seldom the same size, always buy shoes for your child’s larger foot.
- Avoid sharing shoes: Hand-me-down shoes can spread fungi such as nail fungus and athlete’s foot.
- Index finger: As a general rule, leave an index finger's width from the top of the big toe to the end of the shoe.
- Breathing room: Buy shoes made of natural, breathable fabrics that are soft and pliable like your child’s feet.
- Test them out: Always bring your child with you to the store to try on shoes before purchasing a new pair. When testing out shoes, the child should wear the socks that they would normally wear to ensure proper fit. Have your child walk around the store to test comfort and fit.
- Examine the shoe itself: Your child’s shoe should have a firm heel counter, adequate cushioning of the insole, good flexibility and a built-in arch.
Because kids’ feet are soft and pliable, pressure on them at a young age can easily cause foot problems and deformity. By promoting healthy footwear choices and consulting your podiatrist whenever you suspect your child has a foot problem, you can ensure the healthy development of their feet.
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