Common Conditions

Skin & Nail Conditions

Conditions that affect your skin and nails on your feet

SKIN & NAIL CONDITIONS EXPLAINED

Common Skin Conditions

Hard skin (known as callous or hyperkeratosis) can develop on areas of the feet exposed to chronic rubbing. This can be caused by the way you walk, poorly fitting orthotics, tight shoes as well as some medical condition.

A corn is a tender, cone shaped area of very dense, hard skin that forms at specific pressure points on the foot.

Treatment for corns and callous is usually completely painless and involves removal of the hard skin using sterile instruments. Often this hard skin will build up again over time and therefore it is best to have your feet treated on a regular basis in order to remain comfortable and pain free.

Cracked Heels (Fissures) Fissures is the medical term used to describe cracked heels and initially manifests as thick callus around the heels. It is not the callus alone that causes the cracks to appear though. Cracks appear when the skin becomes excessively dry because the skin loses its suppleness. Other factors may be if you are carrying a bit too much weight, as increased weight places the feet under a lot of stress, wearing thongs or walking barefoot, Some cracks may bleed and become painful unless treated by a podiatrist.

Plantar warts or verrucae are benign skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus. They occur on the bottom of the feet and around the toes and are highly contagious. Occurring more commonly in children, warts generally will resolve by themselves but may take many months or years. Depending on the location of the wart it can be painful, especially on weight-bearing areas.

Plantar warts are usually transmitted via moist walking surfaces such as showers, swimming pools, change rooms etc. The virus usually enters the skin through small cuts or abrasions and due to pressure on the sole of the foot a layer of hard skin or callous forms over the top.

In many cases they are not painful and can be left to regress (your own immunity will get rid of them). But when painful, intervention is required, which can consist of simple off the shelf home treatment, or stronger topical treatments. At Podiatry Illawarra we will assess the lesion and give you the most relevant treatment regime.

Athlete’s foot is a skin infection caused by fungus. A fungal infection may occur on any part of the body; on the foot it is called athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis. Fungus commonly attacks the feet because it thrives in a dark, moist, warm environment such as a shoe.

Fungal infections are more common in warm weather when feet tend to sweat more. Fungus thrives in damp areas such as swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms. Athletes commonly have sweaty feet and use the facilities where fungus is commonly found, thus the term “athlete’s foot.”

Athlete’s foot usually produces itchy, dry, scaling skin. It is commonly seen on the soles of the feet and in between the toes. In advanced cases, inflammation, cracks, and blisters may form; an infection caused by bacteria can also result. The fungus can spread to other areas of the body, including toenails.

At Podiatry Illawarra we can diagnose any fungal infection and advise you relevant treatment.

Common Nail Conditions

An ingrown toenail (also known as onychocryptosis) is a common condition that results from the edge of the toenail growing down and into the soft skin on the side of the toe.

Ingrown nails are usually red, swollen and tender to the touch. At times there may be a small amount of pus present. One common cause of ingrown toenails is poor nail cutting technique whereby the person trims the side of the toenail leaving a small spike of nail which later embeds in the side of the toe as the nail grows forward.

Treatment may consist of oral antibiotics to resolve any infection and removing the offending portion of nail. We commonly see patients with ingrown toenails and can provide almost instant relief during your initial treatment.

At times ingrown nails return and it is necessary to perform a minor surgical procedure to prevent the side of the nail from growing back. This surgical procedure, known as a partial nail avulsion, is performed by Podiatry Illawarra Clinic under local anesthetic with minimal, if any, post-operative discomfort. Guaranteed results.

Hard, thick and discoloured nails can be very unsightly and embarrassing. One common cause of thick and discoloured nails is fungal infection.

These fungal infections, known as onychomycosis, are transmissible from person to person and can be contracted from a number of different sources, such as an existing tinea infection in the skin, some nail bars with sub standard hygiene techniques, swimming pools/gyms.

Treatment of fungal nails may include reducing the thickness of the nail using specialized equipment and the application of a topical antifungal medication which is painted onto the nail. In some cases it is necessary to take an oral antifungal medication.

Thick, discoloured nails may not necessarily be caused by fungal infection and therefore it is important to have any nail problems properly assessed. Often individual thick nails are caused by a trauma, in these cases we can simply and painlessly thin the nails down and maintain them. If necessary they can also be removed by nail surgery.

Involuted Toenails (Curved nails) are when the edges of the nail plate curve towards each other squeezing the flesh underneath causing considerable pain and discomfort even with the slightest pressure. One of the main causes of this problem is trauma as it damages the cells in the nail matrix altering its structure and shape. Wearing footwear that is far too tight is another common cause. This particular problem can be controlled and improved with regular Podiatric treatment however in severe cases where regular treatments are not easing the symptoms a total or partial nail avulsion under local anaesthesia to stop the offending nail re-growing may be recommended and greatly enhances quality of life and reduces long term treatment costs.