Mobile foot health care in your own home. Drew Ewing BSc (Hons)

Blog

Verrucas – Why Do We Get Them and How Do We Treat Them?

Comments Off on Verrucas – Why Do We Get Them and How Do We Treat Them?

Verrucas – Why Do We Get Them and How Do We Treat Them?

Verrucae (otherwise called plantar warts) appear most commonly on the feet and can be painful when pressure is applied. Many of us will have experienced this unpleasant condition in childhood.

How to identify them

To the untrained eye it could be easy to confuse a verruca with a corn or callus, as initially both appear to be hardened skin. However these nasty little things have a quite distinctive appearance. A Verruca is a virus which are usually circular in shape, like a corn, but the edge will be slightly thickened and if you look closely you will see that the surface will have small black dots. These may appear singly or in clusters. If you are uncertain as to whether you have a verruca or not, see your podiatrist who can advise you on treatment. A side note – if you are worried by any growth or blemish on the skin you should consult a health care professional.

How do we get verrucas?

A common tale says that we ‘catch’ verrucas at swimming pools but this is largely a myth. Having said that it is advisable for anyone who has verrucas to wear flip-flops or swimshoes when attending a swimming pool, or community shower areas and gyms. This is because, as I said earlier, verrucas are caused by a virus and there is a possibility of someone acquiring a verruca especially if they have damaged skin. By this, we mean skin that is cracked or cut. Verrucas are caused by a strain of the papillomavirus. This lives harmlessly on the skin, but if skin is damaged it can then penetrate the skin to form a verruca.

What treatments are available?

Once you have identified your verruca you have several options. The first option, if the verruca is not causing you any pain or discomfort, is to do nothing and simply let it go away on its own. Any mild discomfort can be alleviated by covering it with a cushioned pad of the type which is used for corns. However most people would prefer to have the verruca treated and eradicated. We must stress at this stage that if you are diabetic please do not self-treat. The usual treatment is one that contains Salicylic acid. The most popular over the counter treatment is one called Bazuka – yet this contains only 17% Salicylic acid whereas the treatment we use contains a wart-busting 60%!!!

Another treatment is Cryotherapy, which involves freezing the skin cells. You could also try a procedure called dry needling. This is a more invasive treatment which can be administered by a qualified podiatrist. It is done under local anaesthetic injected into the foot to render it numb. A hypodermic needle is then used to puncture the verruca. This treatment, as you may imagine, won’t be painful but it may not be for the faint-hearted!

As always, the advice is to take care of your feet. Keep them clean and dry and treat any cuts and abrasions immediately to avoid contracting a verruca.

 

Morton’s Neuroma – The painful truth

Comments Off on Morton’s Neuroma – The painful truth

Morton’s Neuroma – The painful truth

Your feet are put under daily strain throughout your lifetime, so it’s not surprising that they can be prone to health concerns. One of these may be Morton’s Neuroma, which is a painful condition that can affect one or both feet.

What is Morton’s Neuroma?

Morton’s Neuroma, also known as Morton’s metataralgia is where the nerves between the toes on your feet become irritated, then thicken, causing severe foot pain. Typically it occurs between the third and fourth toe, but it’s possible for it to also affect the second and third toes.

Although it isn’t a disease dictated by age or gender, it is more common in middle-aged women, and interestingly it is becoming more prevalent in runners. Certainly footwear such as tight, pointy or high-heeled shoes, as well as sporting activities that put an increased pressure on the toes and balls of your feet can make you more prone to developing Morton’s Neuroma. Furthermore, if you suffer from other foot problems like flat feet, high arches, bunions and hammer toes, you may be more susceptible.

The Symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma

Typically Morton’s Neuroma begins with a tingling sensation between your toes. This may not be painful at first, but it will gradually develop into painful shooting or burning pains in the base of your toes or ball or your foot. Many people with Morton’s Neuroma describe the sensation like they are walking with a small stone stuck in their shoe, except you can’t just shake it out of your shoe to get rid of the pain.

Treatments for Morton’s Neuroma

The symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma can be made worse by the type of shoes you wear and activities you partake in, so to reduce the symptoms you may need to evaluate some aspects of your lifestyle. However, there are treatments available from your podiatrist that can help to improve the condition or manage the pain it can cause.

With a link to high heeled, pointy and tight fitting shoes, one of the first compromises you may have to make for healthy feet is investing in some more appropriate, comfortable and practical footwear, opting for lower heels with wider toe boxes can make a difference.

In addition to this, special insoles can give your toes better support and reduce the pressure put on them, especially when used in conjunction with the Morton’s Dome. This dome is designed to attach to insoles and give additional support to the metatarsal, balls of feet and arches, you can be walking in comfort once more.

In extreme cases of Morton’s Neuroma, where treatments like the Morton’s Dome and insoles haven’t had a lasting effect and patients are still suffering from severe pain, a surgical procedure can be carried out. This will involve either removing some tissue from the surrounding area to create more space for the thickened nerve, or removing part of the thickened nerve that will cause lasting numbness between your toes.

Despite the pain that Morton’s Neuroma can cause, it’s a comfort to know that there are very effective treatments available that can make the pain more bearable.

 

How to dry your feet and what happens if you don’t.

Comments Off on How to dry your feet and what happens if you don’t.

How to dry your feet and what happens if you don’t.

Drying your feet is of paramount importance. Failure to do so can cause the toes to become macerated (softening and breaking down of skin), which often leads to tinea pedis, otherwise known as athlete’s foot. Below, we will take a look at athlete’s foot in further detail while also providing you with some top tips on how to keep your feet dry.

Athlete’s foot

So, let’s take a look at athlete’s foot. This is a very common fungal infection, which has a tendency to occur on the skin in between your toes. As you may have gathered by the name of this infection, it is something that a lot of athletes suffer from. This is because their feet sweat a lot because they, of course, exercise regularly, but they also choose to wear close-fitting trainers, which causes the feet to sweat. Most athletes opt for synthetic trainers as well, which adds to the problem. Nevertheless, even if you do not workout regularly, you could still suffer from athlete’s foot, as sweat is the cause, and let’s face it; we all sweat!

A lot of people mistakenly believe that poor hygiene is the cause of this infection. Cleanliness has nothing to do with tinea pedis. In fact, many people think showering is the best way to prevent it, but this can actually make it worse. Washing between your toes will do nothing to keep the fungus at bay, but keeping your feet dry and clean will.

What is athlete’s foot like? This infection can be very uncomfortable, as it makes your skin itchy, sore, and red. Most people experience cracking between their toes, as well as flaky skin. You need to treat athlete’s foot immediately, as you are at risk of cellulitis, or other types of painful bacterial infections, as bacteria can get through the cracks.

Drying your feet properly

To prevent the above from occurring, you need to make sure you dry your feet properly all of the time. Make sure that you use a separate clean and dry towel to dry in between your toes. You should never put socks or shoes on your feet until they are completely dry. You may also wish to invest in moisture wicking socks. You can find specialised synthetic blend socks online, which have the ability to absorb moisture from the skin, which travels to the outer of the sock and is then evaporated through the shoe.

There is also a great selection of sprays, talc, and cream on the market to help keep your feet dry and treat tinea pedis. Surefoot Podiatry carries a full range of these products at competitive prices.

Wide feet /narrow feet and where to buy shoes

Comments Off on Wide feet /narrow feet and where to buy shoes

Wide feet /narrow feet and where to buy shoes

Having wide or narrow feet may not sound like a major health concern, but to those who suffer from such conditions it can be. Regular shoes are designed to a standard form and for most are comfortable to wear, but for wider or narrower feet they can feel too tight or lose making them uncomfortable to wear.

This isn’t the only problem though, as wearing ill-fitting shoes can also have lasting damage on your feet causing pains, cramping and blisters, as well as bunions, calluses, corns and various other foot related ailments. This is why purchasing properly fitting shoes is of the utmost important as many of these foot ailments can be made worse by continued wear of poorly fitting shoes.

How to find the perfect fitting shoes

One important thing to remember when you’re on the hunt for a pair of shoes is not to think of it as your shoe size, but your foot size. Each shoe manufacturer will produce shoes differently, and while one brand may display the same size as another, the form used to create the shoes may not match, meaning you may need a bigger or smaller size.

With wide and narrow feet, always make sure you try shoes on before you buy and definitely avoid the (breaking them in) rule of thumb, as more often than not this never happens.

You should also start by having your feet professionally measured, this will ensure you know the exact size requirement for your feet and if you buy from specialised suppliers you can have peace of mind that the shoes are specifically designed to fit your feet size.

Get your feet into fashion

Ok, so in the past much of the selection for wide and narrow fit shoes has been limited, there has been a significant amount of progress in recent years to making them more widely available and less limited on the selection choice. For anyone who has spent years searching for wide or narrow fitting shoes, they may know that finding “fashionable” alternatives that fit correctly can be a challenge in itself. But more and more variety for specialist shoes are reaching the market, making it easier to find properly fitting shoes that are comfortable and meet your style ideas.

For wider feet, brands like Hotter, Cosy feet, DB wider fitting shoes and Simply Feet offer fantastic ranges that are specifically designed for a wider foot size. Ranging from hot heels in pretty designs, to wider fitting slippers, dress shoes, casual footwear and boots, the expansive collection of men and women’s shoes will tick all the boxes for fit, comfort and fashion.

However, if you have slender feet, you can find a wide range of choice at specialists suppliers like James Inglis in Scotland or Medissa Shoes. Both brands offer on-trend footwear in all shapes and sizes, so you can step into a pair of fashionable shoes that will actually be good for your feet, offering them the right support, fit and comfort where you need it most.

Keeping fit and your feet

Comments Off on Keeping fit and your feet

Keeping fit and your feet

Doing regular exercise is all part of leading a healthy, well balanced lifestyle. Doing at least the NHS recommended 2 and a half hours a week of exercise can make a big difference to your health, fitness, stamina and general wellbeing. But regardless of whether you’re an exercise enthusiast or new to it, one important thing to remember is to take care of your feet.

The feet are one of the most overworked parts of our bodies and often get very little recognition for the outstanding job they do on a daily basis, but when it comes to exercising, the bar is raised to an entirely new level. Whether you’re pounding the pavements for a morning jog, playing football, doing a gym workout or taking a stroll in the park, all these activities will impact on your feet in some way. And with a little care and consideration for them, they can give you a lifetime of whatever exercise takes your fancy.

A step in the right direction

With exercise you should always make sure you’re stepping out in the right footwear that fits properly. If you haven’t exercised in a while, invest wisely in a new pair or trainers. Your feet change all the time, so old trainers may not fit you properly any more. Plus the vital supportive elements of the shoe design may have deteriorated or weakened, no longer offering your feet and ankles the right level of support to exercise safely and reduce the chances of foot injuries.

It doesn’t matter about the brand, price or style of your exercise shoes, what really matters is that they fit you perfectly. An ill-fitting shoe can cause a whole host of foot problems, not least corns, blisters, calluses and numbness. Look for a solid construction with a flexible bend for the toes, a sturdy heel and padded insoles and support for the foot arches. If they don’t have this you can buy a shoe insert to help support and align your foot.

Put a sock in it

When you’re purchasing your athletic shoes, don’t forget about socks. If socks are too thin, too thick, too loose or made from a rough fabric they can cause rubbing and irritation on your feet that can lead to further foot problems.

Choose specially designed cotton sports socks with a cushioned sole for extra padding and sweat absorption to reduce the chances of blisters, odours and fungal infections.

Post Workout Foot care

With the right equipment for your feet there is still plenty you can do after your workout to ensure your feet stay fit and healthy, allowing you to carry on exercising.

          Regularly check your feet for signs of irritation or injury and treat accordingly.

          Use a pumice stone or foot file to remove hard skin and keep them soft.

          If you have corns or callouses, see you podiatrist who can remove the offending hard skin and corns.

          After exercise soak your feet in warm soapy water.

          Moisturise feet at night to keep the skin soft and supple.  Use a proper foot cream which contains Urea.

With these helpful hints, you can get into full swing with your exercise regime knowing that your feet are in a fit state to withstand the increased demand on them.

 

Bunions – The causes and cures

Comments Off on Bunions – The causes and cures

Bunions – The causes and cures

Bunions are generally a health condition that is associated with the older generation, but it isn’t at all uncommon for younger people, even children to develop bunions. But what are bunions and what causes them? These sometimes unsightly and painful foot problems can affect many of us, so it’s important to understand what they are, what causes them and the treatments available too.

What are bunions?

Bunions are bony deformities that develop on the base of the big toe joint. This deformity then causes the big toe to start pointing inwards towards the other toes. Although this is one of the main symptoms it can also cause other symptoms to develop such as a hard bump on the side of the foot where the big toe joint is, which can make it difficult to find proper fitting shoes. Many bunion sufferers also experience pain, tenderness, swelling or soreness where the joint is that is often intensified when wearing shoes.

If left untreated these symptoms can get worse and lead to other foot issues and more extreme treatments, such as surgery.

What causes bunions?

There are several known causes for bunions, but the most common cause is hereditary. If you have a history of bunions in your family, you may be more likely to develop them yourself.

Footwear is another major contributor to the cause of bunions, as those who wear poorly fitting footwear can significantly increase the chances of developing bunions. This is because badly fitting shoes can put pressure on the big toe joint, causing it to become inflamed. This is why many instances of bunions are found in women who often wear tight, high heeled shoes.

However, it isn’t just women who can suffer from bunions, men also get them and instances have also been found in children as there are suggestions that those with flexible joints are more susceptible to developing this kind of bone deformity.

The treatments

When it comes to treatments your best bet is to start by changing your footwear. Investing in shoes that fit your feet well, have a lower heel and larger, rounder toe box will help to alleviate the pressure on the bunion and reduce the chances of it getting worse.

It is also possible to treat bunions with non-surgical treatments such as bunion pads, orthotics and painkillers to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation.

However, in extreme cases where bunions are causing great discomfort and the high potential to lead to other foot related ailments, it may be necessary to carry out a surgical procedure. There are several different procedures used, depending on the severity of the bunion deformity, but the overall aim is to reduce pain and realign the big toe joint as best possible. Surgery is the only way to get rid of a bunion, but even with surgery there is a slim chance that a bunion may reoccur further down the line.

If you’re suffering from bunions, it’s a good idea to seek advice from your GP or podiatrist who can help find the appropriate treatment to reduce the pain and symptoms.

The Worst Type of Shoes for your feet

Comments Off on The Worst Type of Shoes for your feet

The Worst Type of Shoes for Your Feet

Now you may be thinking, especially if you are a certain type of fashion-conscious lady – or gent – that there is no such thing as the ‘worst type of shoe’. Some say that ‘there are no uncomfortable shoes, just uncomfortable situations.’ But believe me there are indeed some shoes that can make life very miserable indeed.

High Heels

Ultra high heels can do so much for a girl; they can elongate the leg and give the appearance of slenderness and they can enhance a sexy walk. Marilyn Monroe, it is said, would shorten a heel to give her that famous wiggle walk. That may or may not be true but there’s every chance that doing this would just cause her to limp rather than wiggle! The fact is though, that very high heels can cause damage to the feet if worn regularly. Aside from the risk of falling off them and spraining an ankle, it’s not unusual for wearers of high heels to suffer from lower back pain due to the contorted angle of your spine as the shoe throws your weight forward. High heel wearers can also experience burning pains in the balls of the feet.

Ballet Shoes and Flip-flops

We lump both of these together as they can cause similar problems in feet that specifically relate to the clawing of the toes as the wearer struggles to keep them on. Constantly gripping the shoes can lead to tendonitis. Some foot-care specialists have warned against the wearing of ballet shoes, or pumps, because of the risk to the knees and hips. Any shoe which doesn’t securely encase the foot can alter the gait and wreak havoc on the hip and knee joints. And because these sorts of shoes give no support to the foot you risk the curse of fallen arches.

Flip-flops pose an additional set of dangers. The flimsy open construction of a flip-flop offers no protection for the feet at all so if you drop something heavy on your foot it is going to hurt! People have been known to wear flip-flops on a daily basis and the dangers of running for a bus or driving whilst wearing a shoe that is likely to fall off your feet are surely obvious. And because flip-flops are usually worn during the hottest weather they can get very sweaty with a build-up of harmful bacteria. If you insist on wearing flip-flops then at least clean them regularly.

Pointy Toes

Pointy-toed shoes can lead to toe deformities, corns and calluses, bunions, in-growing toenails and clawed toes. All of these issues can mean a lifetime of pain, medical treatments and even surgery. Why take the risk?

 

Sensible Shoes equal Happy Feet

The ideal shoe is said to be one which has a wide-fitting toe-box, laces or straps for secure fitting and a heel no higher than 2” or 4 – 5cm. We’re not suggesting that all women should only wear shoes that Miss Marple would rave about, but the best way to avoid problems caused by ill-fitting shoes is to vary the type you wear. Save the skyscraper heels and ballet pumps for occasional use. Your feet – and your podiatrist – will thank you for it.

Fungal Nails – What are they and what can I do about them.

Comments Off on Fungal Nails – What are they and what can I do about them.

Fungal Nails – What Are They and What Can I Do About Them?

Many of us suffer from fungal nail infections from time to time. This very common condition (which more often affects the toenails rather than the fingernails) can cause misery and embarrassment – especially in summertime when the appearance of fungal nails can hold you back from baring your feet!

Signs and Symptoms

A fungal nail infection develops slowly and will cause the nail to become discoloured and thickened as it progresses. The nail will slowly turn white, yellow, green or black and you will notice that the nail becomes very difficult to trim as it thickens. The nail could become brittle and pieces of it may start to break off or crumble. Although not painful in the early stages it may become uncomfortable or painful when wearing tight-fitting footwear. The effects of the fungal infection could also spread to other toes and be passed to other family members.

What causes a fungal nail infection?

Certain fungi and bacteria actually live harmlessly on the skin without causing any problems at all such as the one that causes athlete’s foot. These are the same instigators that cause fungal nail infections. Because they prefer a moist, dark and warm area in which to live, the feet, encased in socks and shoes, provide the perfect environment. There are some conditions that mean you are more likely to develop a fungal infection of the toenails:

  • You fail to properly dry your feet after washing
  • Your shoes cause your feet to become hot and sweaty and you wear the same pair every day
  • You walk around communal areas like gyms, showers and locker rooms whilst barefoot. Certain conditions which affect the feet like fungal infections or verrucas can be spread by and to other people
  • You have a health condition such as diabetes, psoriasis or peripheral arterial disease, or you have a weakened immune system.
  • Trauma to the nail

Treatments for fungal nail infections

A very mild infection may not require treatment, but if you’re in any doubt, or are worried, see your Podiatrist. There are several very effective treatments on the market today. The best of these comes in tablet form and is called Terbinafine – the most common branded name for this is Lamisil. You take one tablet daily and it works by killing off the fungus. Before taking this medication your GP will need to know of any medical problems you may have, particularly if you have a problem with your liver or kidney function. An alternative treatment is Loceryl, marketed as Curanail, which is a paint-on application. You can get this from Surefoot Podiatry along with Excilor, which is a pen-type applicator that you use twice daily for up to 3 months. There are, of course, new laser-based treatments coming onto the market but these are very expensive and only available privately at present.

Prevention works best

Common-sense methods of reducing the risk of developing fungal nail infections include keeping your feet clean and dry, wearing well-fitting shoes and avoiding going barefoot in communal areas. Take care of your feet and you stand a good chance of avoiding this unsightly condition.

All about flat feet – Pes Planus

Comments Off on All about flat feet – Pes Planus

All about flat feet – Pes Planus

Flat feet, also known as Pes Planus is a fairly common foot condition. In some cases people are unaffected by it, but for others it can cause health concerns that require treatment. We’re looking at what flat feet are, what problems it can cause and effective treatment methods.

What is pes planus?

Pes Planus, flat feet or fallen arches is a condition where the feet have a very low arch or no arch at all, which makes the sole of the foot sit flat on the ground. As you grow older, this arch should develop and begin to rise, but when this doesn’t happen this is called pes planus.

This condition is often inherited from parents, but it can also develop from a number of other factors, such as:

  • Abnormal bone development in the womb
  • Conditions such as joint hypermobility, where there is loose connecting tissues in the body
  • Conditions where the muscle and nerve systems are affected like spinal bifida, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy
  • The tissue in the feet become strained and inflamed, which could be a result of old age, obesity, unsupportive footwear, injury or overuse.

Whatever the reasons for developing flat feet or pes planus, it can result in a number of health concerns that need to be addressed.

Problems I might face with low arches

If your feet do have low arches, some of the problems you may experience are not just pain in the feet, but also pain and discomfort in the ankles, lower legs, knees, hips and back. The low lying arch affects your posture and the way you walk and causes over pronation. This is where the feet roll inwards, resulting in shoes wearing out quickly, which can not only be expensive, but can also cause the tissues in the feet to become inflamed.

You may also begin to notice that your feet are getting flatter, or that your feet are getting weaker, stiffer or number. Any one of these symptoms is a sign that it’s time to seek help from your podiatrist. If left untreated, pes planus can lead to further long-term bone, muscle and tissue problems that may require surgical corrective treatment.

Effective treatments for flat feet

There are plenty of non-surgical treatments that can be recommended that will help to provide the correct support to your feet and alleviate some of the symptoms of flat feet.

To start with, investing in quality shoes that provide you with the right support of the arch is essential. You can also purchase orthotic insoles from your podiatrist, who will do a bio-mechanical assessment of your feet and make sure the orthotics correct the position of your feet, will fit inside your shoes and prevent your feet from rolling inwards. Thus they will reduce the wear of shoes, reduce pain and improve posture and comfort.

Surefoot Podiatry carries a full range of insoles and corrective orthotics. Why not contact Drew on 07864 686595 or 01200 424901 to arrange a bio-mechanical assessment of your feet.

With the right supportive footwear, insoles and advice from your podiatrist, living with flat feet can be made more comfortable and manageable.

The most common foot complaints people ignore (and why they shouldn’t)

Comments Off on The most common foot complaints people ignore (and why they shouldn’t)

The most common foot complaints people ignore (and why they shouldn’t)

Foot complaints can happen at any time of the year and can cover a variety of ailments, from blisters and calluses to aches and pains. But surprisingly so many of us will ignore these foot complaints or apply insufficient treatments that could actually be doing more harm than good.

Here’s a look at some of the most common foot complaints that get ignored and why they shouldn’t just be dismissed, but treated appropriately.

Blisters

Blisters are a common foot complaint that often get dismissed as nothing serious. They’re difficult to ignore sometime as they can be very painful, but if they aren’t treated properly they can be at risk of infection and become a more serious problem. If you suffer from blisters, whatever you do, do not pop the blister yourself, this leaves it open to greater risk of infection and can make healing slower. The best approach is to clean the area, apply some antiseptic cream and cover it for a few days with a clean bandage or a blister plaster.

Foot pain

No doubt all of us have experienced some foot pain at some point in our lives, but how many of us actually do anything about it? One of the most common foot complaints is pain in the foot, which is more often than not caused from wearing poorly fitting footwear. If left unchecked this foot pain can also lead to pain in your lower legs, knees, hips and back. Ensure you buy footwear with built-in arch supports or invest in shoe insoles that will give your feet the right support they need.

Sweaty feet

This can be an embarrassing problem for some people who suffer from very sweaty feet as it can cause unpleasant odours, but more importantly it can also make you more susceptible to fungal infections like athlete’s foot, cracked heels and other skin complaints. A simple solution is to apply deodorant or antiperspirant spray each morning and evening to help reduce the levels of sweat. Surefoot Podiatry can give advice and supply lotions that get rid of the bacteria that causes the smell associated with sweaty feet.

Fungal infections

Another often ignored foot complaint are fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, which should always be dealt with quickly as it can be very uncomfortable and itchy. If you notice your feet and toes are particularly itchy and the skin looks scaly or cracked between the toes, you should go and see your GP or podiatrist who can provide appropriate medicated creams. To help prevent the growth of these types of infections, make sure you wash your socks on a 60 degree wash as this helps kill the fungal spores that cause Athletes foot and might be lurking in your socks.

Heel pain

Finally a common pain that often gets side-lined is heel pain. Your heels are designed as shock absorbers for your feet and the rest of your body, but overuse and repetitive strain can cause the heel to become inflamed making every step painful. This type of pain, definitely shouldn’t be ignored as problems with your feet more often than not, lead to further problems in other areas of your body, such as the knees and hips.

Your feet are the foundation of your body, so if you’re experiencing any foot complaints, big or small, always be sure to give them the attention they deserve. What starts out as a small issue can soon become something more serious, so take action early.