Posts for: April, 2014
A young woman recently told me there are actually “I Hate Feet” groups on Facebook. This is hard to believe, but the reality is that most people have the perfect body image of themselves that begins at their head and extends down to their toes. Over 50 percent of my female patients are embarrassed by the way their toenails look and most of my male patients share the same concern. I am constantly receiving apologies from patients with impairments such as onychomycosis (toenail fungus), nail shape changes due to injury, spoon shaped nails, horizontal ridges, brittle and splitting nails, and discolored nails.
These conditions not only present physical problems but there is a psychological overlay. As summer approaches, many people will elect to toss their open-toed shoes, sandals, and flip-flops aside to avoid being noticed. In many cases, some will even stop participating in social and recreational events or hide their feet because they are self-conscious and embarrassed about the way their toenails look. Distress can be quite extreme and their quality of life can diminish. Regardless of age or gender, no one enjoys having ugly toenails.
The good news is that podiatrists now have the ability to create attractive nails for men and women. Podiatry Today recently recognized the KeryFlex nail restoration system as one of the top ten innovations in podiatry. KeryFlex is a new method to repair toenails damaged by fungus, injuries, and deformities. The KeryFlex system restores damaged toenails to their original appearance. In some instances, treatment can be given on a regular basis just like getting a pedicure. When used in conjunction with toenail fungus treatments such as oral therapy or laser treatment, treatment is stopped when the new nail clears.
The KeryFlex nail restoration system uses polymer resins and special activators that bond to damaged toenails to create a durable, yet flexible, natural-looking nail when exposed to a certain frequency of ultraviolet light. The procedure takes around 15 minutes. Most of the damaged nail is removed and a bonding agent is applied to the nail. A resin, which has a gel-like consistency, is applied to the nail bed. Then, a special ultraviolet light is then used to harden the resin. This procedure is repeated to create a natural-looking appearance in place of the damaged nail. The KeryFlex gel is available in three colors: opaque, clear and natural. Patients are thrilled with the results. They are able to resume normal activities, get a pedicure, or apply nail polish.
The Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois is the first podiatry clinic in Springfield and Decatur to offer KeryFlex treatments. To learn more about this exciting new innovation, visit myfootandanklecenter.com or call 217-787-2700 to schedule an appointment.
Causes of toenail fungus
Toenail fungus, medically known as Onychomycosis (On-i-ko-mi-KO-sis), is one of the most frequently treated foot problems that accounts for more than half of the nail abnormalities. It is a fungal infection in one or more of your nails that is primarily caused by a group of fungi called Dermatophytes (der-mat-o-phtes). Yeasts and molds are other types of fungi that cause fungal infections. This slow growing infection usually occurs when microscopic fungi enter through a tiny cut or break in the nail. Dermatophytes live off the dead keratin between the top layers of the skin and nail. They thrive in warm, moist, dark environments.
It is difficult to determine exactly where how or where an infection is acquired, but it is spread through direct contact with a fungi or yeast spores and mold. This can happen when walking barefoot or wearing contaminated shoes or socks. It can also be spread from person to person. Toenail fungus is not caused by genetics or poor hygiene. Not all people are equally susceptible to getting toenail fungus.
Infections are more common with people over 60 because they tend to have poorer blood circulation to the toes and increased exposure to fungi due to age. Toenail fungus affects males more than females. Your risk of developing nail fungus increases if any of the following conditions are present: diabetes, weakened immune system, poor circulation, athlete’s foot and hyperhidrosis (hy-per-hi-drosis) — excessive perspiring. Your risk also increases if you work in a moist or humid environment, wear improper footwear with poor ventilation and moisture absorption, have trauma to the nail or another infection, or walk barefoot in public places or a household occupied by an infected person. It can also be contracted from sharing nail clippers, nail files, nail polish or towels.
The symptoms may vary depending on the type of fungus that is present; however, it is likely that toenail fungus is present if your nails have the following: changes in shape, discoloration, thickening, detachment, brittleness, build-up of white debris beneath the nail or foul odor. In advanced cases, the nail can turn brown or black. Your podiatrist will be able to confirm your condition by closely examining your toes; however, a scrapping may have to be examined under a microscope or cultured for lab confirmation.
Once the fungus is present, it will not go away by itself and the condition usually worsens over time. Toenail fungus can be present in one nail and spread to other nails. If you have athlete’s foot, the infection can be spread from your skin to your nails.
In advanced cases, toenail fungus can be painful, causing an irritation and burning sensation in the infected areas. Left untreated, this condition can cause permanent damage to the nail and lead to other serious infections.
Those at greatest risk are people with chronic diseases such as immune system deficiencies (leukemia, AIDS or organ transplant recipients), circulatory problems, diabetes mellitus and athlete’s foot.
Unfortunately, toenail fungus can also hamper a person’s quality of life. Some people can develop significant psychological problems from the poor appearance of their nails. Studies have shown that toenail fungus has a negative effect on their quality of life. In one study, 75 percent of the subjects were embarrassed by their nails. Women were embarrassed more than men (83 percent vs. 71 percent). Twelve percent of the subjects reported that their infection interfered with social relationships, and 15 percent avoided social situations all together.
With age, many people experience changes in their feet. This may include a change in their shape; a loss of the fatty pads that cushion the bottom of the feet; thinner, drier skin and brittle nails; and even arthritis. As the feet change, they also naturally develop more problems. But aching feet are not a natural part of growing old or something to be tolerated. You can do many things now to help relieve pain, improve comfort and keep the spring in your step.
Taking good care of your feet has many benefits including increasing your comfort, limiting the possibility of additional health issues, and keeping you active and mobile. The following tips may help keep feet feeling and looking their best into the golden years:
- Choose proper-fitting shoes with adequate support, a firm sole and a soft upper for your everyday activities
- Walk—it’s the best exercise for your feet
- Avoid going barefoot
- Never cut corns or calluses on your own
- Bathe your feet daily in lukewarm water with a mild soap
- Moisturize daily
- Trim and file toenails straight across
- Inspect your feet daily. If you notice redness, cracks in the skin or strange sores, consult our Springfield office
- Have your feet examined by Foot & Ankle Center Of Illinois at least once a year
There are more than 300 different foot ailments. Some are inherited, but for older people, most foot conditions stem from the impact of years of wear and tear. The good news is that even among people in their retirement years, many foot problems can be treated successfully.
Never ignore the natural changes that aging brings. Since feet are referred to as the “mirror of health,” podiatrists are often times the first to identify signs of systemic diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. Regular visits to Foot & Ankle Center Of Illinois can help prevent foot problems and alleviate pain to keep you active for life.
Looking for a safe, easy and inexpensive way to stay healthy, increase your energy level and improve your figure? Start walking. Walking is one of the easiest and most popular forms of exercise, and when done properly, can significantly improve your health.
The basic kind of walking -- often called healthwalking -- can be done almost anywhere and at any time, year around. And for individuals with a long history of inactivity or problems with obesity, walking is an excellent way to begin an exercise program.
If the Shoe Fits- Get Walking
Footwear plays a vital role in the duration and achievement of your walking routine, and shoes that don't fit properly or that lack support can lead to foot pain or injuries, such as blisters, corns, calluses, nail fungus and plantar fasciitis.
Not sure which shoe will offer you the most support? Come into our Springfield office for an examination. We can help determine the best shoe for your feet based on your arch, walking experience and foot mechanics. Your shoes should be well-cushioned and stable, offering you comfort and fit that enables you to walk smoothly and without discomfort.
Keep Your Feet Healthy
To gain the most health benefit from walking, it's important to pay close attention to your feet. Trim your nails regularly, keep your feet clean and dry, and inspect your feet for signs of sores, blisters, corns, calluses or other infections. Serious foot ailments, such as bunions or hammertoes, should be checked by our Springfield office before you begin your exercise regimen.
Once you're ready to hit the road, you'll want set appropriate goals based on your overall health and walking experience. Start slow and build upon your distance gradually. And don't forget to stretch in order to prevent injury and keep muscles loose.
Walking is meant to be safe, easy and fun, but in order to do so, you must have healthy feet. Experiencing foot pain and discomfort isn't normal. Talk with a podiatrist at Foot & Ankle Center Of Illinois if you encounter any problems while walking. Every step you take is one step closer to a healthier lifestyle. So what are you waiting for? Take a stroll in the mall, walk your dog in the park, or grab a friend and go for a leisurely walk around your neighborhood. It's easy and fun, and when done regularly can lead to a healthier you!
I tell my patients that “there’s a fungus among us,” because toenail fungus is everywhere in our environment. Onychomycosis, commonly referred to as toenail fungus, can be picked up anytime you travel in bare feet. You can contract it at the pool, in a shower, from the floor, in a hotel room or at the nail salon. It can even be lurking in your sneakers. As seen in the ever popular Lamisil commercials, the little yellow fungus monsters (Dermatophytes) love to invade the nail bed and turn it into a smorgasbord.
They thrive on warm, moist environments and humid conditions; and once they get under the nail, they want to stay for life.