Blogs

How to Recognise and Treat Athletes Foot

We have over 250,000 sweat gland in our feet. These sweat glands can secret up to half a pint of fluid a day. Crazy right !!

Fungal infections are caused by fungal spores such as tinea pedis. This fungus loves to grow in warm damp conditions just like in your feet. It usually starts in between your 4th and 5th toes (but not always) as they are usually the closest together and warm. It can then spread to other toes and down into the foot. Not all athletes foot is itchy all of the time and can go unnoticed until it’s very bad and spreads throughout the foot. It can present as white macerated (broken down mushy tissue) in between the toes. It can also look like dry cracked skin with small red patches. A lot of my patients will say their feet are only itchy the odd time and didn’t realise they even had it until I pointed it out. So keep an eye on your feet.

Management

The best way to keep athletes foot away is to wash your feet at least every 2 days and every day if your highly active or sweaty. Drying in between your toes is very important. Apply powder between the toes if they are very close together and/or have reduced movement. If you do get athletes foot, I advise using daktarin powder for between the toes as it keeps them dry while killing the infection. You can use cream on the base of your foot if it’s not in between your toes, but the powder is sufficient for your whole foot if you have it between your toes and on the base of the foot. Daktarin powders and creams are available to purchase in the clinic.

Top Weird Tip

Due to us having to wear face masks more often, our faces can get damp and spots/rashes can occur. I had a crazy thought that applying daktarin powder in the evening and before putting on a face mask for a long day at work, might dry out the skin and reduce the spots and rash. It has worked amazingly and has completely cleared up my mask acne. I even have my teenager and his friends using it due to them suffering ache normally and the masks now making it worse. I hope it works for you too.

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How To Heal Heel Pain

The importance of treating heel pain

As a podiatrist based in Galway, you’d be amazed at the number of patients who come to me with heel pain or pain in the arch of the foot and just accept it as it is. We often think that the heel is its own little entity down there, but surprisingly, it can get itself in a whole lot of bother due to seemingly unrelated parts of the body. 

Plantar fasciitis (fasciopathy) is the most common type of heel pain accounting for 80% of cases. Fasciitis means to have an inflammation of some tissue in your foot, but studies have shown that it’s not so much inflammation as much as it is degenerative/wear and tear process with some scarring of the tissue in long term cases. This is why we are now trying to refer to the condition as plantar fasciopathy (Plantar fascia pain)

The surprising causes of heel pain

The majority of the time heel pain is caused by overly tight calf muscles – or tight gastrocnemius and soleus muscles if you want to get really technical. Instead of accepting heel pain and superficially treating it, such as rolling a cold bottle under the heel or arch, it’s always best to address the root cause. I’ve taken a more proactive approach that targets the top offenders of your discomfort. 

As I previously mentioned, tight calf muscles are the prime perpetrators, pulling at the heel and causing the hallmark ache you feel while walking. This can be caused by a number of things, which is why a full biomechanics assessment should be carried out before any treatment plan is put in place. I set my patients a customized exercise and stretching program for this through physiApp® which has details and videos showing you how to do the exercises the right way and tracking your progression through them, making your recovery easier to follow. Combined with acupuncture treatments which loosen up the muscles you’ll be well on your way to recovery.

Usually, patients see great results with regular exercises and acupuncture sessions, which treats the primary cause of the heel pain, and because of this, they do not find themselves seeking treatment over long periods of time and have the knowledge to treat it themselves if it should ever return. Of course, there are some people who do not respond as effectively to the treatment plan above. Some people need orthotics, but I try and avoid this while I work through a list of exercises to see what works best for the patient.

Heel pain is a common occurrence, and many of us will suffer from at least one bout of it in our lives. Fear not, because a proactive approach is key to ensure the best outcome and treatment. If you’re suffering from heel pain, don’t suffer in silence. Get in touch so we can build a treatment plan tailored just for you that addresses the root cause of the issue. 

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How to treat ingrown toenails

Treating ingrown toenails

We all know at least one person who has suffered an ingrown toenail -or you might even be that unfortunate person! It’s such a common issue that affects many people, with pain ranging from mild discomfort to a very severe pain that impacts day-to-day life. 

Surprisingly, genetics can impact your chance of developing ingrown toenails. For example, you could be unlucky and have a curved root that causes involuted nails which turn downwards and dig in at the edges of your skin. Similarly, Onychauxic nails is a condition where a nail or multiple nails grow abnormally thick. This can increase the pressure on the nail bed, breaking into the skin leading to pain and discomfort. Often this thick nail becomes white or yellow and is mistaken for a fungal infection, so it’s important to be aware and ensure you get the right treatment.   

Getting to the bottom of ingrown toenails

I see so many teenagers come in with foot issues, particularly if they play sport. Football boots can cause their feet to sweat, which softens the skin and increase the potential of developing ingrown nails. Teens generally have wide, flat nails with deep skin folds on the sides of their toes. This can can cause issues as they grow, with the nail cutting into the surrounding skin – adding to the teenage angst! 

Trauma/damage to the nail matrix (root) can have a huge impact on how the nail grows. I regularly have patients come in with this type of damage to the nail from dropping an item on the toe. This can lead to the nail falling off and a damaged nail replacing it, leading to the telltale signs of ingrown nails. This trauma can even occur if another toe (it’s not aways the big toe that gets an ingrown nail) or an ill fitted shoe is constantly rubbing off the nail root.

A lot of times, ingrown toenails are caused by people not cutting their nails correctly. Below you’ll see a handy diagram showing you the best way to cut your nails and avoid all the pain and trauma! 

Always make sure you:

  • Cut nails straight across with a nail clippers and round off the edges
  • Cut your nails when they are dry and not wet
  • Leave a small bit of nail, so it’s not too short
  • Do not pull or rip the top of your nail off
  • Do not try and remove an area that feels like it is digging into the skin yourself.

Ingrown toenails are so common, with many of us personally affected by them. But by taking a proactive approach you can ensure the best outcome and treatment. If you’re suffering from ingrown toenails, don’t suffer in silence! Get in touch so we can build a treatment plan tailored just for you that addresses the root cause of the issue and leads to best outcome.

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Diving Deeper into Heel Pain

Diving into heel pain treatment

It’s so important to be aware of how much your feet do for you – they are the workhorses of your body and bare much of the brunt of day-to-day life. They’re quite happy to do it, usually! That’s why your footwear should be a top priority. I’ve seen some particularly bad heel pain brought about by Achilles insertional tendonitis and non-insertional Achilles tendon injury. Basically, inflammation and degeneration at the point where the Achilles tendon joins the heel bone or further up. These injuries are more common in older runners, so it’s vital to make sure your running shoes are in top-notch condition and you take the time to stay on top of aches before they creep into deeper pains over time. 

Don’t suffer heel pain in silence

It would be a mistake to think that heel pain is an accumulation of injury over time to the point it causes you serious discomfort, but children ranging from 5 – 15 can often be impacted, too. We always picture them as nimble on their feet and resilient to the falls and tumbles they frequently take, but they can be affected by Severs disease (aka calcaneal apophysitis as it is not actually a disease). This condition is caused when the heel bone is pulled away by overly tight muscles before the bones are properly fused. The good news is that this condition can be avoided by catching it early and putting a stretching plan in place. 

Heel pain is so common, and lots of us will suffer from it in our lives. But by taking a proactive approach you can ensure the best outcome and treatment. If you’re suffering from heel pain, don’t suffer in silence. Get in touch so we can build a treatment plan tailored just for you that addresses the root cause of the issue. 

For more interesting facts and developments, check out my Instagram and Facebook!