Client Resources //
Here are some of the more common nail and foot conditions I see, as well as some helpful information.
Common Conditions //
If your second, third, or fourth toe is crossed, bent in the middle of the toe joint, or just pointing at an odd angle, you may have what’s called a hammertoe. Hammertoes are often caused by improperly fitting shoes. Early on, wearing inserts or foot pads can help reposition your toe, but later it becomes fixed in the bent position. Because hammertoes are bent, corns and calluses often form on them. Surgery is an option on the recommendation of your Podiatrist.
A bunion is a crooked big-toe joint that sticks out at the base of the toe, forcing the big toe to turn in. Bunions have various causes, including heredity, arthritis, and trauma. A bunion can be painful when confined in a shoe, and for many people, shoes that are too narrow in the toe may be to blame for the formation of this painful condition. Surgery is sometimes recommended to treat bunions, after more conservative treatment methods like over-the-counter pain relievers and footwear changes fail to help.
Corns & Calluses
Corns and calluses form after repeated rubbing against a bony area of the foot or against a shoe. Corns appear on the tops and sides of your toes as well as between your toes. Calluses form on the bottom of the foot, especially under the heels or balls, and on the sides of toes. These compressed patches of dead skin cells can be hard and painful. To relieve the pain, you may want to try placing moleskin or padding around corns and calluses. Don’t try to cut or remove corns and calluses yourself — see a foot care nurse or Podiatrist for care. Avoid the use of medicated corn pads as they have the potential to harm the skin.
Gout is actually a type of arthritis that is caused by a build-up of uric acid in joint tissues. This happens when the body is unable to keep uric acid levels in check. One of the first places for this build-up to happen is in the big toe joint. If you have gout, the toe will get warm, red, and swollen and will be painful to even the slightest touch.
The best way to prevent a gout attack is to learn to identify triggers, including foods high in purine (found in red meat & seafood) and alcohol. Applying ice, keeping hydrated, and staying bed may help, too. As well, there are medications available to help prevent gout and treat the symptoms.
Nail fungus is caused by a tiny microbe that invades the nail bed. Fungal nail infection is also termed "onychomycosis". Fungal nail infection causes fingernails or toenails to thicken, discolor, disfigure, and split.
Without treatment, the toenails can become so thick that they press against the inside of the shoes, causing pressure, irritation, and pain. Half of all nail disorders are caused by nail fungus and it is the most common nail disease in adults. It is estimated over 2 million Canadians have it.
Onychomycosis is associated with diabetes, a suppressed immune system, and increasing age. Damage to a nail, damp feet and tight shoes also contribute to nail fungus. It is a difficult condition to get rid of, although there are some oral medications (Lamisil) that are effective for some people. Some of these medications may affect liver function, however.
Nail fungus can be safely managed by reducing the thickness of the nail and cleaning underneath any areas that have lifted. It is important to keep the feet dry and wear shoes with a roomy toe box.
The right way to clip toenails is straight across. If not cut properly, the corners or sides of the nail can dig into skin and become ingrown. Other causes of ingrown toenails include shoe pressure, a fungus infection, and even poor foot structure. See your doctor if you notice reddening that is progressing, pus or swelling. If your symptoms have just started:
Try a foot soak. Allow your sore toe to soak in a warm salt water bath for 15 minutes a couple of times every day. This soak can help relieve pain and swelling in an ingrown toenail. Dry your foot completely after each soak.
Involuted nails have a higher curvature of the nail than usual. In some cases the curvature of the nail is so severe that the tip of the nail curls around in a circle leading to pinching of the skin causing pain, discomfort, and infection. These types of nails usually occur on the big toes. Heredity plays a part in this condition, as well as the wearing of pointy or tight shoes.
Involuted nails are often painful and can develop into ingrown nails. Incorrect nail cutting, particularly cutting down the sides of the nails can make this condition worse.
It is important to leave the edges of the nail a bit longer so they don't dig into the skin. Nail packing (inserting a thin roll of cotton under the sides of the nail) can provide relief for a few days till the nail has grown out a little.
Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. It occurs most commonly in people whose feet have become very sweaty while while wearing tight-fitting shoes.
Signs and symptoms of athlete's foot include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging and burning. Athlete's foot is contagious and can be spread by contaminated floors, towels or clothing.
Usually symptoms are mild and the client does not need to see a doctor. Over the counter medications (anti-fungal sprays) may be useful in clearing up the infection. In severe cases you may need to get a prescription from your doctor.
Things you can do yourself (self care):
Wash your feet often with soap and water
Make sure your feet are completely dry after washing them, especially between your toes
Wear cotton socks (make sure they are clean!!)
In order to keep your feet dry, change your shoes and socks often
Wash your towels regularly, do not share them