Fungal Nail: Fungal nail, Onychomycosis, is a common disease of the toenail, cause by skin fungus which has moved underneath the nail. Normally, the nail adheres to the nail bed and provides a natural barrier to fungal infection. However, even a minor trauma (repeated bumping of the nail on the inside of shoes) can gently lift the nail and make it vulnerable to fungal infection.Fungal nails may appear thick & bumpy, and the discoloration can be yellow, brown or black in color depending on the type of fungus involved. Infection usually starts at the tip of the nail and progresses towards the nail root, causing destruction as it travels. Occasionally, there may be an unpleasant odor. The nail may separate and even fall off completely.The condition is generally painless and often ignored. A fungal nail however, shares the same sock and shoe as the rest of the foot, thus infection of other nails can occur.
Treatment for fungal nail includes filing down & debriding the nail, and controlling surface fungus.
Cracks & Fissures: Cracks and fissures are breaks in the skin due to skin that is too dry or too moist. When skin is too dry it can become rough and flaky, and at the heel large cracks and deep fissures can form. When skin is too moist, bacterial or fungal infections may occur and cracks can develop between the toes. For most people, it’s a nuisance and cosmetic problem but it can become painful and potentially serious, as the cracks allow bacterial to enter and an infection can occur.
People who wear open shoes or who walk barefoot are at risk of heel cracks. Those who wear shoes without socks, or wear socks that don’t breathe are at risk for moist skin problems.
If you have cracked heels, a regular foot care regimen should start. This includes removing thickened skin with a foot file (on dry skin) or a pumice (on moist skin). Consult a foot care specialist if you are unable to do this yourself at home. A good moisturizing cream should be applied. Footwear should be switched periodically to closed shoes or wearing socks with open shoes. Consult your doctor immediately if there are signs of infection, including the heel becoming red, hot or with pus.
If you have cracks between the toes due to excess moisture, your foot care regimen should include ensuring drying between the toes after bathing, changing socks more frequently, rotating shoes daily, wearing shoe and socks that ventilate and using anti-fungal creams as appropriate.
Athletes Foot: Athletes foot, Tinea Pedis, is a superficial, contagious, fungal infection of the foot. Symptoms include drying and peeling of the skin, itching, burning and finally blisters. It can appear as a red, scaly eruption on the bottom of the foot, or have a whitish, moist appearance between the toes. Foot odor can be caused by a secondary bacterial infection.
The cause of Athletes Foot is that there are conditions favorable to fungal growth including a warm, dark, climate offered by sweaty feet in hot enclose shoes. Also, direct exposure to fungus in public areas where people walk barefoot (pools, locker rooms, etc) can promote athlete’s foot.
Treatment includes foot hygiene (keeping feet clean and dry), daily application of topical anti-fungal agents, wearing clean breathable footwear, rotating shoes, and wearing footwear (flip flops) in public areas.
Learn more about common foot conditions by scheduling an in-home consultation.