Some things are only skin deep, but they can still be very important when it comes to matters of your feet.
Your skin and toenails are natural lines of defense on a part of your body that—let’s face it—gets put into some very rough environments now and then. They often have to spend all day stuffed into shoes or squishing through wet socks. And don’t even bring up those chance meetings with the coffee table!
On top of that, there are other factors that sometimes don’t provide any advantages for your hardworking dogs.
For example, did you know your feet contain about 250,000 sweat glands, but fewer oil glands than just about anywhere on your body? That means they’re a practical waterworks of sweat, but aren’t so great at keeping that moisture locked in. All that sweat your feet are soaking in can lead to odor, but the inability to keep moisture in can frequently lead to dryness.
What we’re trying to say is that it’s well worth keeping an eye on the condition your skin and nails are in down at your feet. Wanting to keep them looking good is a worthy goal, but keeping your skin and nails clear of problems can be beneficial to your overall health, too.
So when you’re in the shower, don’t just let the soapy water run down your feet. Give them a good scrub and an inspection! (Or you could do so before bed, if you prefer.) Be on the lookout for some of the following problems that might need attention.
Dryness and Cracks
Dryness is something that can be seasonal, but also can develop as a result of aging, certain medical conditions, or even stress on the feet.
Dryness can be unsightly, but may not be very harmful in itself. A bigger concern is when dryness reaches a point where it causes itchiness, rashes, or especially cracks.
Cracks can become quite painful, and walking without treating them can sometimes make the fissures even worse. They also represent a breach in your skin’s defenses, thereby increasing your risks of developing an infection.
Treating dryness when it happens is a good way to help prevent cracks from developing. You don’t always need something terribly fancy to do the trick. A moisturizer containing urea or lactic acid to exfoliate dead skin is often helpful.
If the moisturizers you’re trying aren’t working, however, you might have an underlying problem. Give us a call and let us know.
Toenail fungus can be extremely stubborn once it has secured a good foothold (pun intended). For that reason, the sooner a fungal infection is identified and treatment begun, the easier it tends to be to get rid of. The problem is that many people don’t recognize an infection is happening until their toenails have started to become crumbly and look nasty.
The earliest stages of a fungal nail infection usually takes the form of small, white or slightly yellow sports or streaks in a nail. It’s easy to mistake these spots for general wear and tear or injury to the nail, which is why these symptoms often get a free pass.
If you spot spots or streaks on your nail, keep an eye on them over the next few days. If they don’t start going away, you might consider giving us a call. And if they start to grow, definitely give us a call!
Corns and Calluses
You often see these terms together, but what’s the difference?
Calluses are wide, flat, rough patches of skin. You tend to find them on the soles of the feet, around the heel, forefoot, or anywhere else that tends to get squished against the ground.
Corns, on the other hand, tend to be smaller, have a hard center, and are more often found on areas of the foot that don’t bear weight.
Both corns and calluses, however, are a sign that something is causing friction against your foot. These are the ways the skin tries to build itself up against damage, and often by finding and removing the source of the friction, your corns and calluses will gradually go away.
If you have a burning, itching rash and have spent time in damp, humid, dark environments such as public pools or locker rooms, odds are pretty good you have athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot can develop along the bottom, sides, or top of the foot, but usually begins between the toes. It’s not limited to exclusively to your feet, either, so don’t scratch or pick at your feet with your hands, and make sure you wash them frequently when dealing with this infection!
An over-the-counter anti-fungal can often take care of athlete’s foot, but more severe and painful cases might need professional treatment.
We’re Just Scratching the Surface
While the above conditions tend to be among the most common to affect the skin and nails, they are far from the only problems to look out for.
Plantar warts, eczema, ingrown toenails, black toenails (we’re looking at you, runners), and more can cause trouble, so it’s wise to regularly take some time and make sure you really know what’s going on when it comes to your feet.
And that goes double for anyone who has diabetes! You should check your feet at least once per day and report any kind of abnormalities you find.
Whenever you have a skin or nail problem in your feet that’s painful, refusing to go away—or you simply don’t know what to make of it—our office in Upland is happy to help. Give us a call at (909) 920-0884 or, if you prefer, fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.