When you notice how thick and yellow your toenails are, you might dismiss it as a sign of aging or figure you just got the “bad toenail” gene. But thick, discolored nails are often caused by a fungal infection that needs medical treatment.
In a previous blog post, the Dallas podiatrists at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center discussed common fungal foot infections and how they affect the feet and the body. We’ll continue on that topic today, with more frustrating fungal infections and how to deal with them.
Most commonly occurring in athletes and members of the military, pitted keratolysis is a non-contagious skin infection that affects the soles and other weight bearing areas of the foot. While it’s most commonly found in males, pitted keratolysis can affect people of any age, race, or sex.
Pitted keratolysis is identified by its trademark appearance: circular, shallow pits covering the toes that cause itching, redness, and irritation.
People who sweat excessively, and wear tight, restrictive footwear are at a much higher risk of developing pitted keratolysis symptoms—so if you’re physically active, be sure to wear shoes that are supportive, but breathable.
If you have pitted keratolysis, there are many over-the-counter topical ointments that can treat symptoms. However, if your symptoms won’t go away, or are growing worse over time, it’s best to stop by your local podiatrist for more advanced treatment.
Dyshidrotic eczema, also known as dyshidrosis, is not well understood by medical professionals—the cause of this infection is unknown. Many researchers believe dyshidrotic eczema could be caused by stress or seasonal allergies, as symptoms of this ailment can be exacerbated by some patients during the spring allergy season.
The primary symptom of dyshidrotic eczema are painful, fluid-filled blisters across the feet and toes, which can cause discomfort while walking and wearing socks and shoes. After three weeks, many of these blisters will dry up, creating even more painful cracks as well as intense itching. If you begin scratching in these affected areas, you will eventually notice a sponginess or thickness to the soles of your feet.
If you suspect you might have dyshidrotic eczema, schedule an appointment with your local podiatrist immediately. They will most likely run some sort of skin biopsy to confirm your ailments, and might perform a skin allergy test if they suspect your dyshidrotic eczema might be caused by seasonal or chronic allergies. But for temporary relief of mild dyshidrotic eczema symptoms, over the counter medications like Benadryl or Claritin may be helpful.
Surprise—ringworm is not caused by a worm. It’s caused by a fungus that infects skin all over the human body. Ringworm manifests itself as red, crusty rashes, and can be extremely itchy and uncomfortable. In more serious cases, ringworm can cause hair loss and painful blisters as well.
It’s important to treat symptoms of ringworm as quickly as possible, as ringworm is extremely contagious. Stop by your local drug store for antifungal ointment for expedient treatment, and talk to your podiatrist if your symptoms persist or become more painful over time.
Cellulitis doesn’t just affect the skin—it affects tissues beneath the skin, like the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. Cellulitis develops when streptococcus and staphylococcus bacteria enter through an open wound on the skin, which makes the risk of cellulitis higher for those with large cuts or bruises, or post-surgery wounds in the healing process.
This infection causes redness, swelling, tenderness, and warmth on affected areas of the legs, feet, and toes. As bacteria spreads across the skin, the affected person may develop fever, chills, excessive sweating, and swollen lymph nodes near the infected area. Cellulitis is not contagious, and mainly affects the middle-aged and the elderly.
For treatment of cellulitis, talk to your primary care physician—most of the time, oral and intravenous antibiotics will be enough to eradicate cellulitis. But in extreme cases, a bacterial infection specialist or surgeon might be needed for advanced treatment of cellulitis symptoms.
Abscesses are not bacterial infections themselves, but rather a byproduct of these infections. Identified by swelling, discomfort, and redness, abscesses are collections of pus that develop in tissues of the body (carbuncles and boils are great examples of abscesses).
The only way to treat an abscess is to have a professional cut it open a drain the pus from the infected area—but even then, there’s no guarantee that the abscess won’t return. Talk to your physician if you’ve developed an abscess, and do it sooner rather than later—abscesses become much more painful if not treated in a timely manner.
While some of the above conditions are best treated by a dermatologist or bacterial infection specialist, the professionals at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center are always happy to help you solve your foot and ankle problems! Stop by our Dallas or Arlington office, and get back on your feet today!
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