Maintaining healthy nails and skin are an important part of foot care, as well as whole body health. Unsightly nails, dry and cracked skin, and other aesthetic concerns can lead to embarrassment—but it’s not just about looks, either. Your skin and nails help protect your body from more serious injuries and infections, and when they are damaged you risk further complications—especially if you have a condition like diabetes, poor circulation, or a weakened immune system.
At the Northwest Extremity Specialists, our team of foot care physicians use both tried-and-true treatments and state-of-the-art tools to help keep your skin and nails looking and feeling great.
Common nail conditions we treat include:
Rather than growing outward like normal, sometimes the corner or edge of a nail will snag on the soft surrounding flesh and begin to grow inward. This may be the result of a specific injury or external pressure (like wearing tight shoes), or simply an unfortunate consequence of genetics. At the very minimum, ingrown toenails can be painful, tender, and make it difficult to wear shoes comfortably. If they get infected, however, they could lead to significant tissue death and maybe even amputation, especially if you have diabetes.
Minor ingrown toenails can sometimes be treated at home, if you’re healthy. However, we generally recommend most people see us for care. A minor procedure to cut out the ingrown edge should relieve the pain almost instantly and have you back on your feet in no time. If necessary, we can even perform a second procedure to permanently prevent the problematic nail edge from growing back.
Dermatophyte fungi that manage to find a way under the nail plate can cause major damage—ugly discoloration, warping and thickening of the nail, brittle and ragged edges. Worse, because circulation is low to the toes and the nail offers an effective barrier, traditional antifungal medications (topical and orals) tend to work slowly and have mixed effectiveness.
Fortunately, advanced laser therapy has greatly improved the safety and effectiveness of treatment for this condition. The light energy emitted by the laser is able to bypass the nail and kill of the fungi residing underneath. It does not damage your skin and has no known side effects. We are proud to be able to offer this care option to our patients.
Common skin conditions we treat at our offices include:
- Athlete’s foot. This condition is caused by the same types of fungi that cause fungal nails—in fact, one condition can directly lead to the other. Usually you can treat athlete’s foot with over-the-counter topical antifungals, but see us if it resists home treatment or keeps coming back.
- Corns and calluses. If your skin is exposed to repetitive friction and pressure, it may form patches of thick, hardened skin to protect itself. Calluses are usually long, flat, and painless, and located in areas of weight bearing. Corns are more cone-shaped and tend to form on non-weight bearing locations, such as atop and between toes. They are more likely to be tender and painful when pressed.
- Eczema / dry skin. Symptoms of eczema are often very similar to athlete’s foot—dry and scaly skin, itchy rashes, etc. Instead of a fungal infection, however, eczema usually arises as a reaction to moisture, chemicals, allergens, or other irritants that come into contact with skin.
- Heel fissures / cracked heels. When the skin becomes dry and inelastic, the fatty pad at the bottom of the heel may not be able to stretch adequately when bearing weight. Deep cracks or fissures can form underneath and along the sides of the heel, and, if severe, may even bleed. This can be a painful, serious infection risk for those with diabetes.
- Melanoma. This aggressive skin cancer is very treatable if detected early, but can be fatal if allowed to spread. Melanoma spots may resemble moles (or even form from one), so if you notice any spots that appear irregular (in terms of border, color, symmetry, etc.) or change over time, please get them checked immediately.
- Warts. Warts are usually harmless. However, they can be embarrassing, and sometimes even painful if they are located in a sensitive spot. Home treatments don’t really work (at least not often), so if you’re ready to be rid of your foot warts come see us. It may take a couple of appointments, but we’ll help you get rid of them.
- Wounds. If you have diabetes (or any condition that compromises circulation or healing), minor cuts, scrapes, bruises, and blisters may develop into ulcers that just won’t heal. These are serious health risks that could cost you a toe, a foot, or even a life, and should be treated by a professional immediately.
Restore That Healthy Shine
At Northwest Extremity Specialists, our team works hard to keep your feet looking great, feeling great, and ready to show off in your favorite pair of (biomechanically supportive) sandals! If you’re experiencing any of the above conditions—or any other problem with your skin or nails—please call the office nearest you, or leave us a note on our online contact form. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible to book an appointment.