What’s That on Your Foot? (Diagnosing Skin Problems)

by | Aug 31, 2018

Nobody is asking you to have perfect-looking feet. To be free of every little blemish can be a job all its own, and it just doesn’t fit into many of our schedules!

Taking care of skin and nail conditions on the feet isn’t all just about aesthetics, though. Many problems can not only make your feet uncomfortable, but leave you exposed to worse problems as well. Identifying problems and addressing them early can keep your feet better prepared to take on the day!

So when you see something on your foot and think, “What is that?” it might be time to come in and see us. Let’s take a look at some of the more common skin and nail conditions—and what they may mean for your foot health.

Plantar Warts

It never hurts to lead off with a classic.

Plantar warts tend to be found on the underside or sides of the foot, and take on the look of singular, bumpy growths or larger, circular clusters. They are caused by a virus, perhaps picked up in a locker room or other damp, warm place.

Many times, plantar warts don’t cause any actual harm. There are cases, though, when they become tender and painful to walk on. Considering that an infection can last anywhere up to 2 years on its own without any intervention, that can mean some long-term trouble.

The other problem that arises with plantar warts is some of the ways people try to self-treat them. If you’re picking at, digging, or trying to burn off your warts with strong acid, you might be causing more harm than good. Let us take an expert look and help you with something safer and more effective!

Dry Skin

Dry skin can often feel more like a nuisance than an actual problem. Our feet are particularly vulnerable to dryness due to the lack of oil glands they have compared to the rest of our skin. The dry winters we can have around here certainly don’t help!

Dryness is worth addressing at home, because the pressure you place on your feet can often cause the skin to split, creating painful fissures and increasing the risk of infection.

A thick moisturizer can provide good protection. Those with ingredients such as urea, alpha hyrdoxy acid, or salicylic acid can help exfoliate and remove dead skin cells, but they might sting if they enter any open splits!

Coating your heels and other problem areas in Vaseline or other petroleum-based moisturizer before bed can also help lock more moisture into your feet. You will likely want to wear socks overnight to prevent getting the substance on your sheets.

If these measures aren’t helping you, your feet are cracked and inflamed, or you are having problems with dryness while managing diabetes, you should definitely give us a call.

Skin Infections

Corns and Calluses

These two always seem to be talked about in pairs, but don’t always show up to a party together.

What are the differences? A callus tends to be relatively flat and develop along the soles of the feet. They’re often not very painful.

Corns, on the other hand, tend to be smaller and more raised. They have a hard center often surrounded by tender skin, and are usually found along areas that don’t bear weight, such as the top of and in-between the toes.

Corns can be a common complication if you also have hammertoes or a bunion. They can form in places where the toe rubs against the inside of a shoe, causing plenty of pain and inflammation.

If corns (or even calluses) are causing you pain, we can help. In many cases, a change in footwear or the use of custom orthotics can take pressure away from the painful areas and reduce the irritation.

Athlete’s Foot

Whether you’re an athlete spending time in the locker room or an on-the-move worker who fills their boots with sweat, you should be mindful of the risks of picking up athlete’s foot.

Just like the plantar warts virus, the fungi that cause athlete’s foot also love damp, warm places—such as a shower floor or the inside of a sweaty shoe. Once the fungi dig in, they can cause a painful, red, scaly rash, and sometimes even blisters.

While athlete’s foot can be treated at home, you should contact us if you are not seeing any improvement in a few days. Not only is athlete’s foot very uncomfortable, it’s also quite contagious and can even result in cases of fungal toenails if allowed to get in around the nail bed.

Let’s Be Clear, Here

There are more problems that can arise on the skin of your feet, from eczema to blisters to even skin cancer.

The key to any good treatment, however, is timing. If you hold off on taking care of problems that arise on your feet, you are giving them the opportunity to grow worse. In rare cases, they can become outright dangerous.

If there is something on your skin that just isn’t clearing up, or isn’t getting better no matter what you try, it’s time to get expert help. (And yes, you can try duct tape on your plantar warts—just don’t be too surprised if it doesn’t work.)

At Freeland Foot & Ankle Clinic, Dr. Timothy Dailey and our staff are knowledgeable in all the maladies that can creep up on feet, and the best ways to treat them. Whether the course of action is medical in nature, or a more mechanical change of footwear or inserts, there is much more that can be done to clear up conditions than you might expect!

Our office in Freeland is here to help with all your foot and ankle needs. Give us a call at (989) 695-6788 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment with us.

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