As a Foot Health Practitioner, I can offer advice and treatment on many aspects of foot health, inlcuding...
Nail trimming and filing
Toe nails are there to protect the toes from friction and pressure. If they are not trimmed the nails grow thicker and start to look like claws, making them harder to trim. It also feels very painful when wearing shoes as the long nails can work like a lever and potentially lift the nail off the nail plate.
Recommended trimming guide:
- children & teens every 3 weeks
- adults every 6 weeks
- seniors every 8 weeks
I offer fingernail trimming too.
Athletes foot - Tinea pedis
Athlete's foot is a contagious fungal infection which can be picked up through a break in the skin (eg a cut or split). It usually starts between the toes and the area becomes inflamed, flaky and itchy. If not treated at this stage it can spread to the nails causing a fungal infection there. Creams are available from your GP or pharmacist applied directly to the affected area but has to be carried out on a regular daily basis to be effective.
Fungal nail infections
Fungal nail is very common, contagious and unlikely to clear on its own. Nails will get a yellow/brown discolouring and become thick, brittle and flaky. If treated early it can be cured relatively quickly, however if not diagnosed early enough it can take anything from 6 months to 2 years to clear. Treatment needs to be consistent to kill the fungus. If left untreated the nail will eventually fall off and the fungus will attack the nail bed, preventing the nail from ever growing back. In a worst-case scenario the infection could enter the bloodstream which could be fatal.
Thick nail reduction
Thick nails can be caused by fungal nail or through continuous pressure on the nail plate, which can make it uncomfortable to wear shoes. Reducing the thickness will relieve the pressure, making walking more comfortable.
Ingrowing toenails - Onychocryptosis
These occur when the nail is forced by pressure (eg from wearing heels or pointed shoes) into the surrounding soft tissue or, when the nail has been cut too short, the nail grows into the side of the nail groove. When the nail enters the soft tissue it splits the skin so that the sulcus of the nail (where your toenail meets the skin) becomes infected. This can be very painful and early treatment is needed to help prevent this infection.
Callus is hard skin caused by friction and pressure and is mainly found on the balls of the feet, side of the big and little toes and the rim of the heel. It can become painful to walk on when it gets too thick or can crack when it's dry, so a reduction and emollient preparation can bring some relief and prevent the skin from drying out.
Corns are small circles of thick skin created by constant pressure on the skin (eg from poorly fitting shoes). They can be very painful to walk on and need to be removed to prevent the risk of ulceration.
A verruca is a wart on the sole of your foot caused by a viral infection (human papilloma virus 2). Various treatments are available but most can be usually cured by our own immune system if given enough time. If it becomes painful then treatment is an option, however any treatment needs to be consistent to be effective. Caution is also needed as verrucas are contagious and can be caught by wet or damaged skin
Heel fissures occur when the skin around the heel gets dry, hard and flaky. This can become painful and, if not treated, can bleed and become infected. Reducing skin and moisturising daily should help.
Diabetic foot care
It is important for diabetics to establish a good daily foot health routine: inspect your feet, look for sores, redness, cuts, blisters or bruises. If you discover any of these, medical advise should be sought as these can result in ulcers.
Help keep your feet healthy by washing them daily using a mild soap and warm water. (Using a thermometer to ensure water is not too hot can help.) Dry your feet thoroughly with a soft towel, especially between the toes. Moisturise your feet daily, being careful to avoid putting any cream between your toes as this can lead to fungal infections. If your feet are prone to having dry, cracked skin, you can use a specialist foot cream such as Flexotol to help keep the skin soft..
As circulation is often poor in diabetics, it is very important to keep the skin and nails on the foot healthy and intact, as a cut can quickly become infected and, due to poor blood flow, can take longer to heal and carries more risk of turning into an ulcer.