Nail and skin conditions of the feet and ankles can be more than just cosmetic concerns. In addition to being unsightly and embarrassing, they can often be painful, frustrating, and may even increase your risk of further infections or complications.

Skin and nail problems are worth getting checked out, especially if they are bothering you. Dr. Thomas J. Bobrowski and the staff at InStride Crystal Coast Podiatry can provide quick, effective, and gentle care to restore the health and appearance of your feet.

Common Skin and Nail Conditions

Some of the most common skin and nail conditions we treat daily include, but certainly are not limited to:

Athlete’s foot

Minor cases of acute athlete’s foot commonly present as itching, burning, and cracking between the toes. It can often be treated at home using over-the-counter topical antifungal medications. If these symptoms fail to resolve in two weeks or continue to recur, this may be a bacterial or yeast infection requiring a culture and a closer look from a specialist to establish appropriate therapy.

Chronic athlete’s foot, on the other hand, is most often perceived by the average person as dry, scaly skin on the bottom of the foot. This condition is rarely symptomatic, often ignored, and if left untreated can spread to the nails, causing fungal toenails. The sooner you clear up your athlete’s foot, the less likely it will spread and cause more serious problems.

Fungal toenails

Fungal toenails (onychomycosis) typically present as discolored, thickened, and even deformed. The discoloration usually starts as a spot at the tip of the nail and over time gradually spreads towards the base. Untreated nails act as a fungal source or reservoir allowing it to spread to the skin, known as chronic athlete’s foot, and then back to a different nail.

Clearly, it is best to break this vicious cycle as soon as possible before all ten nails become infected.

The initial step in treating onychomycosis is getting a nail specimen for a culture to confirm the fungal infection. Other nail conditions such as eczema, repetitive trauma, psoriasis, and lichen simplex chronicus (to name a few) can mimic a fungal infection. That is why a positive culture is vital.

As soon as the infection is confirmed with a culture, appropriate treatment will be recommended based on past medical history, current list of medications, and the extent of the fungal infection.

Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are the result of the nail edge or corner curling into the soft surrounding skin. They can be quite painful, and if left untreated may lead to a serious infection—especially in patients with diabetes or peripheral vascular disease.

Contrary to what you may have been told, the most common cause of ingrown toenails is simply the shape of your nails. That means, without treatment, most people will continue to experience recurrence.

A short, simple, relatively painless in-office procedure can change the shape of your nail and correct this issue permanently. Most people are even able to return to their regular activities the day after this treatment.

Read our service page on ingrown toenail to learn more about this condition and its treatment.

Plantar warts

Foot warts can occur at any age, but are most common in children, older adults, or anyone with a compromised immune system.

The best time to initiate treatment is in the early stages of growth, prior to the wart developing an established blood supply (which is represented by visible tiny black dots within the lesion) and prior to spreading.

There are over 100 unique wart viruses, and it is impossible to visibly determine which viral strain will spread. For this reason, it is recommended you seek treatment as soon as they are detected.

Most plantar warts respond well to topical medications and take an average of eight weeks to fully eradicate. Extremely tough warts may require surgical excision.

Simple Skin and Nail Care Tips

As stated, it is important to contact us if you have a problem with your skin and nails. However, preventing them in the first place is even better! Practice the following foot care tips to reduce the risk of developing a skin or nail problem:

  • Wash your feet daily with mild soap and warm water.
  • Choose socks and shoes made from comfortable, breathable materials.
  • Always make sure your shoes and socks fit properly and are appropriate for your activities.
  • Rotate pairs of shoes each day so that each pair can fully dry between uses. If necessary, consider using a shoe dryer or antifungal powders or sprays.
  • Avoid excessively long or hot showers, as they can dry out your skin.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in public spaces, such as locker rooms or pool decks.
  • Do not share unwashed towels, footwear, or nail care tools with anyone else.

And of course, if you do have any problems, just give the team at InStride Crystal Coast Podiatry a call at (252) 638-4700. Or, if you would prefer, you can get in touch with us using the contact form on this website.