Everybody wants smooth, clear, healthy-looking skin.
But great skin isn’t just about looks and beauty. As the first line of defense between you and the infecting agents of the outside world, healthy skin helps maintain a healthy body by keeping the germs out.
And of course, skin conditions can also be itchy, painful, or even deadly (in the case of melanoma, for example). Plus, if you have diabetes, even minor skin problems like cuts or blisters could later develop into sores and ulcers—some of which may get infected, or even require amputation to contain.
Unfortunately, not only are the feet a common location for skin problems (for a variety of reasons), but we’re also more likely to overlook or ignore them than we would skin problems in a highly visible area. But that doesn’t mean you should!
Common Skin Conditions that Affect the Feet
At our podiatry office in Lee’s Summit, Dr. Joel Foster provides effective and compassionate treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including:
- Athlete’s foot. This scaly, reddish rash is caused by the same fungi that also cause fungal toenails (and so you can actually get one condition from the other). Most cases of athlete’s foot can be treated at home using over-the-counter topical antifungal medications. However, if your case is especially painful or keeps coming back, we can help you with stronger treatments.
- Blisters. Blisters often form in spots on the feet where the skin is repeatedly and forcefully rubbing against something in a short period of time. This can often happen if your shoes don’t fit properly, or you wear shoes without socks. We generally recommend against draining blisters unless you absolutely must. If you have diabetes, it may be safer to have us do the draining for you.
- These are thick patches of built-up skin that develop as a way to protect your feet from sources of repetitive friction or pressure. They are usually wide, flat, and located along weight-bearing areas of the foot. Calluses typically disappear eventually if you remove the source of the friction (such as a tight pair of shoes) and usually don’t cause pain, but if they are bothering you, you should seek professional help instead of trying to cut them yourself.
- Corns are very similar to calluses. The main differences are that they tend to be more cone-shaped and located in non-weight-bearing areas, like toes. They also tend to be surrounded by inflamed skin and are more likely to be painful. As with calluses, you should never attempt to cut them or treat them on your own.
- Cracked heels. If your skin becomes excessively dry, it can start to split and crack when pressure is applied. This commonly affects the heels, and in some cases the fissures can be so deep that bleeding occurs. At the very least, cracked heels are unsightly, but they can also pose a risk of infection if they are severe or you have diabetes.
- Skin cancer. A variety of skin cancers may develop on the feet, including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma—which is the most dangerous. Unfortunately, because we are less likely to notice blemishes on feet, skin cancer can go undetected for longer. Remember your ABCDEs of skin cancer: moles that are asymmetrical, have irregular borders, vary in color, have a diameter greater than a quarter-inch, or are evolving in size, shape, or color should be checked.
- Ulcers. Even small cuts or burst blisters can develop into sores and ulcers on the feet and legs that won’t heal if you don’t care for them properly. This is especially true if you have diabetes, neuropathy, venous insufficiency, or other circulatory problems. Prompt treatment is extremely important if you want to avoid the worst possible outcomes, including infection or even amputation.
- Warts. These viral growths can technically appear anywhere on the body, although the feet are one of the most common targets. Warts can be embarrassing, and depending on where they are located they can also be painful. They may also last for years unless you seek treatment. We have a variety of different treatment options—some more invasive, some less—to help you get rid of them.
A Helping Hand with Prevention and Treatment
Regardless of what may be bothering the outer appearance of your feet, our team of professionals is standing by to help.
Not only will we provide appropriate and effective treatment options, but we’ll also make sure you have the information and tools you need to prevent a reoccurrence of your skin condition whenever possible.
In order to reduce the risk of skin problems:
- Wash your feet with soap and water every day.
- Apply moisturizer to your feet (except between the toes) after washing and drying them.
- Check your feet at least once per day for problems.
- Make sure your shoes are the right size, shape, and style for your feet and your activities.
- Rotate between pairs of shoes—at least one full day off after one day on.
- Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet if you go out in sandals.
- Don’t go barefoot in public spaces (such as showers or pool decks).
- Don’t share socks or shoes with anyone else.
- Don’t share footcare tools such as clipper or nail files.
Don’t let a skin condition get out of control before seeking help! You can request an appointment with us at our Lee’s Summit office online, or give us a call directly at (816) 246-4222.