Philadelphia Tri-state Area Podiatrists Answer Foot Health Questions
We believe that every question deserves a good answer. Healthmark Foot and Ankle provides you the best up-to date information for your concerns.
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Why are my nails becoming thick and discolored?
A fungal infection is the most common cause of nails becoming thick or discolored. It can involve just one or multiple nails. Everyone has many organisms living on their skin and nails; referred to as "normal flora." This normal flora consists of certain bacteria, yeasts, and dermatophytes (fungus). If someone suffers trauma to the nail or is on immune suppressing medication, such as prednisone or chemotherapy, they can become susceptible to the development of a fungal infection on their nails.
A definitive diagnosis can be made by culturing a portion of the nail. Treating the fungal nail infection may involve topical or oral anti-fungals, debridement / thinning of the nail, or improving hygiene by daily washing and drying of the feet. It helps to change socks and shoes at least twice each day and letting air get to the feet when possible. The hardening and discoloration of nails happens to many people of all ages, the good news is that it’s treatable.
Is it true that people who are always barefoot don’t get athlete’s foot?
There have been a lot of studies lately about the positive aspects of going barefoot—and one of these is a reduced risk of athlete’s foot. In a recent study published in The Journal of the National Association of Chiropodists, researchers discovered that less than 1% of habitually barefooted people in China and India ever suffered from athlete’s foot.
There are a number of reasons why barefooted populations do not suffer athlete’s foot, including:
- Ventilation. Bare feet have maximum airflow on all surfaces, as well as being exposed to sunlight, a natural fungal deterrent.
- Hardy skin. Walking barefoot encourages tougher skin on the soles, making it harder for the fungus to take hold.
- Toe shape. Regular shoe-wearing forces toes to grow firmly pressed together, encouraging cramped spaces where fungus can thrive. However, people who have never worn shoes have splayed toes, giving the fungus no safe environment to grow.
While it may seem like going barefoot is a good way to relieve common athlete’s foot symptoms, you must remember that it will only be effective in an all-barefoot population. For those who must wear shoes for work and daily walking, it will not be as effective—especially if others who are going barefoot are spreading the fungus to other surfaces.
Going barefoot even in your own home can be problematic, since you can infect family members or even spread a healing infection back to yourself, resulting in a recurring case of athlete’s foot. Walking in clean, dry socks and well-ventilated shoes remain the best forms of treatment for a shoe-wearing society—both to relieve your suffering and stop the spread of infection.
For more foot care tips from a trusted Philadelphia podiatrist, contact HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates today at 610-565-3668 in Media or at 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up a consultation.
What is onychomycosis, and how can I treat it?
Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nail, and is a common side effect of athlete’s foot. The fungi that causes these foot conditions thrive in warm, moist areas, such as gyms, swimming pools, or locker rooms. Since athlete’s foot is also caused by a fungus, it makes sense that other bacteria will thrive under similar conditions, such as moist feet, damp socks, and tight-fitting shoes.
You may have a fungal nail infection if you experience any of the following changes in your toenails:
- Dullness or cloudy patches
- Thickening of the nail
- Crumbling or fraying on the nail edges
- Change in the shape of your toenails
- A lifted appearance or “loosening” of the nail
- Debris trapped between the nail bed and toenail
- White or yellow streaks on the sides of the toenails
Treatment for nail infections can be complicated. In most cases over-the-counter medications will not be effective, so you may suffer symptoms even after you get rid of athlete’s foot. The best course of treatment is prescription anti-fungal medicines, usually in a pill form. To prevent the fungus from coming back, you will likely need to take an anti-fungal medication for 2 to 3 months.
If you have been dealing with a persistent foot ailment, the Philadelphia podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates can help.Call us today for an appointment in Media at 610-565-3668 or in Phoenixville at 610-933-8644, or click the link on this page for a FREE copy of our book, The Foot is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.
Why do I need a podiatrist to treat my athlete’s foot? Can’t I just get the spray stuff?
When treating athlete’s foot, it’s important to recognize the scope of your condition. It might seem minor (other than being extremely itchy and annoying), but athlete’s foot can develop into a more serious problem unless it is treated properly and completely—and an over-the-counter spray might not do the trick.
Depending on the type of fungus that caused your athlete’s foot, a qualified foot doctor in Philadelphia might recommend:
- Topical treatments.Topical creams and sprays can relieve mild cases of athlete’s foot. However, if the skin on the sole of your foot is tough or thickened, topical treatments might not be able to penetrate it.In addition, over-the-counter preparations typically contain very low doses of the drug intended to get rid of the fungus, whereas your podiatrist can usually prescribe a stronger treatment.
- Oral prescriptions. If your athlete’s foot persists despite topical treatment, you might need an oral antifungal medicine to eliminate the infection.
- At-home treatments. Soaking your feet in vinegar or other home remedies might relieve the symptoms of athlete’s foot; however, they might not stop a chronic case from coming back.
- A cleansing regimen. A good podiatrist will discuss how to keep future infections at bay through lifestyle changes, such as keeping your feet clean and dry on a daily basis.
If your over-the-counter treatment for athlete’s foot isn’t working, the Philadelphia-area podiatrists at Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates can help you kick the itch for good. Call our Media office at 610-565-3668 or our Phoenixville office at 610-933-8644 today to set up your first consultation.
If you’d like to learn more about taking good care of your feet, order your FREE copy of our book The Foot Is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It. Click the View Details button on this page to order your copy today.
I had an infection between my toes, but it looks a lot better now. Can I stop taking the medicine my Philadelphia doctor prescribed for athlete’s foot?
No! There are many reasons you should continue taking your medication for athlete’s foot for as long as it was prescribed, including:
- Contagion. As you’ve probably realized, athlete’s foot is highly contagious. Even if you think your infection is cleared up, you may easily give it to someone else by sharing shoes or walking in a public area in your bare feet.
- Recurrence. Your condition may look and feel as though it’s completely gone, but as long as fungus is still present it can regrow and come back—meaning you’ll probably need treatment all over again.
- Avoiding a chronic condition. A good foot and ankle doctor in Philadelphia should not only prescribe medication, but also help you understand how you can prevent similar infections in the future. Our Phoenixville podiatrists will give you hygiene tips and suggest home treatments if you see the signs of another infection.
At Healthmark Foot & Ankle Associates, we provide comprehensive care for our patients, including treatment for temporary and chronic ailments, lifestyle tips, and corrective procedures that will literally get you back on your feet. We have two locations in Philadelphia, making it convenient for all of our patients to get the care they need.
Call us at 610-565-3668 for a consultation at our Media office or 610-933-8644 for our Phoenixville office. You can also click the link on this page to order our FREE book The Foot Is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.
Why is it so important to wear flip-flops in the locker room or sauna at the gym?
Locker rooms, saunas, indoor and outdoor pools and any other damp, warm public places are breeding grounds for the fungus that causes Athlete’s Foot. This foot infection is not only painful, but it is also highly contagious.
So if you want to avoid contracting an Athlete’s Foot infection that causes burning and itching, along with dry, cracked feet, you might want to think twice about walking around barefoot at the local gym. Make sure to bring flip-flops with you, and wear them the moment you pull off your gym socks. They should be worn when walking to and from the pool and even in the sauna and shower.
Carpeted areas in a locker room are also never completely free from the risks of Athlete’s Foot. The fungus can breed deep in the fibers of carpet and other fabric mats, as well as on rubber surfaces.
It is also important not to let anyone else use your flip-flops or other sandals, even if they are family members living in the same household. Athlete’s Foot does not care if you are married or have children. The infection can spread quickly among those living in the same household using the same swimming pool, shower, or floors, so if one person is fighting the fungus, the other members of the household should take heed and steer clear of sharing.
Need more tips on how to avoid contracting Athlete’s Foot? Look no further than the Philadelphia podiatrists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates. Simply call them today at 610-565-3668 to schedule an appointment or to order your free copy of their book, The Foot is Not An Island.
What is athletes foot?
Athlete's foot is a soft tissue fungal infection that affects the bottom of the feet and can also occur between the toes. This infection often causes itchy, dry areas that sometimes include burning sensations. It can occur in anybody, athlete and non-athletes.