Common Infections on Our Feet

Do you have a discoloured nail? Itchy or sweaty feet? A painful ingrown toenail? Warts on your heels or toes? Don’t stress, because the majority of the time, these infections on our feet are quite common and respond well to treatment.  Keep reading to see if any of the inflections below sound familiar to you!

Tinea (Athlete’s Foot)

Tinea is a common skin infection that occurs on the feet.

It can present in a few different ways, or a combination of:

  • Red and raw skin
  • Itching or stinging sensations
  • Dry cracked skin between toes

This infection typically occurs from direct contact with one or more of the three fungi that cause tinea. It can be contracted in environments such as pools, spas, and communal change rooms.

Additional factors that can increase the chances of contracting tinea are:

  • Sweaty feet
  • Tight closed toe shoes
  • Not drying between the toes after a shower
  • Small cuts between toes

Treating tinea is simple, however, it can take some time.  A great starting point is to limit the amount of moisture on your feet such as water and sweat.  This includes drying feet effectively between your toes after a shower or being in a pool.

If you suffer from sweaty feet, wearing moisture wicking socks or bamboo socks can also help.  Topical creams such as Canesten, Daktarin or Solveasy are frequently used in the management of tinea.  In some cases medication may be prescribed by your GP to treat long standing tinea.

For more info on tinea, check out our blog post – “The What, Where, Who & How of Tinea Pedis (Athlete’s Foot)

Fungal Nails

Do your toenails have patches of yellow, brown, or white discolouration that makes your nail look cloudy? Are your nails brittle, irregular in shape, appear to have debris building up underneath or have a particular odour? If this sounds like your toenails then you may have a fungal nail infection.  This type of infection can be seen in the tips of nails all the way to where the nail grows from.

So, how did I manage to get this infection? Fungal nail infections can occur from sharing communal places like change rooms, sweating, a previous or current tinea infection, trauma to your nail and/or restricted blood flow to your feet.

Fungal nails often require regular cutting and filing back so the ointment, cream, or paint being applied can reach the fungal infection and act effectively.  A nail sample may be taken and sent off for testing to accurately identify which fungus is affecting your nail.

Keep reading all about fungal nails and how we can help at Watsonia Podiatry here.

Cellulitis

A cellulitis infection typically occurs following a cut, abrasion, bite, wound or break in the skin, which results in a bacterial infection.

The signs of cellulitis can vary but the main indicators are:

  • Redness surrounding the site that extends up the foot or leg
  • Hot to touch
  • Tenderness
  • Tight & glossy skin
  • Pitting of the skin
  • Blistering

Recognising these signs early are key, as it is possible for a cellulitis infection to spread throughout the body if left untreated.  Cellulitis can cause nausea, dizziness, fever, and/or chills in serious cases.  If this occurs, you should seek immediate medical attention. The treatment of a cellulitis infection requires antibiotic therapy.

Regular foot checks are key to identify any cuts or abrasions and any possible skin infections.  When checking your feet, be sure to check in between all of your toes as well, because water and moisture can build up here and cause tears in the skin.  Tinea has the  potential to lead to a cellulitis infection due to skin breaks in between the toes.  If you do have an open wound, avoiding pools, open water ways and spas, as well as washing hands frequently will help.  When dressing a cut or wound, washing the area with salt water, applying an antiseptic such as betadine and covering the site with a band aid can help in the healing process and prevent infections.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common condition that causes a build up of patches of red or white scaly plaques of skin with well defined edges that can be itchy.  Psoriasis is most common on the scalp, knees and elbows, however it an occur anywhere on the feet and hands.

There are certain triggers of psoriasis that include infections, weather changes, skin breaks, stress, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption and some medications.  Ongoing psoriasis that is left untreated can lead to psoriasis arthritis.  This is most common in the joints of the toes and can result in a throbbing and tenderness within the joints.

When managing psoriasis, it is important to moisturise your skin daily as this will help in preventing the skin from drying out and becoming irritated.  Managing your stress levels can assist in preventing psoriasis flare ups and allowing your immune system time to recover.  Other forms of treatment include medications, topical creams, and/or ultraviolet therapy.  Here at Watsonia Podiatry, we are able to help you in the management of your psoriasis or any skin problems on your feet.

Warts

Warts, also known as verruca pedis, are a common skin condition that can affect both children and adults.  They can occur anywhere on the feet, however, they are most common on the bottom of the feet.

Warts will generally resolve after 6-12 months on their own, however, if they have become painful, continue to come back, or are multiplying, it it is important to seek help.

Get all of your wart related questions answered by reading our blog post “Your Guide to Plantar Warts“.

Ingrown Nails

Are the sides of your toenails red, swollen, painful, pus-filled and/or appear to be growing into the side of your skin?  If so, you may have an ingrown toenail.  This is a common problem seen in podiatry clinics and most commonly affects the big toe nail.

Treating your ingrown nail can be managed with a partial nail avulsion (PNA) where the side of the nail that is affected is removed and prevented from growing back.

Additionally, conservative management in some cases can be effective, such as cutting the corner of the nail and packing the side of your nail with a small piece of foam to relieve the pressure of the nail edge.

So how can you prevent ingrown nails? Well, we’ve got two article son our website that cover how to cut your nails, along with some handy tips and tricks to prevent ingrown nails – the links are available below:

  1. Cutting Toenails Pretty Straightforward Right?
  2. Ingrown Toenails – What Can I Do?

If you’re suffering from any of these skin conditions, or any other pain or discomfort in your feet and/or lower limbs, come see our awesome team here at Watsonia Podiatry!  To book your appointment call us on 03 9432 2689 or book online here.

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