Most people hate their feet. Podiatrist’s love feet. We marvel at their complexity & how they survive the torture we put them through. Whether that’s through the shoes we force them into, or the pounding we give them running a marathon or commonly these days, the amount of weight they have to carry. Our feet, in the main, carry us proudly through all of life’s activities & events.
Sadly for the feet, they are shunned by most. With their funny shapes, twisted toes, & lumps & bumps, we hide them away so no one sees. I wonder if feet take this personally?
One of the most common problems a person might visit a Podiatrist for, is due to “funny” toenails. The nails may be painful (commonly due to ingrowing), they may be thickened (you may have dropped something on them) or they may be discoloured.
It’s the discoloured nail I want to briefly discuss & yes, show a couple of photos. A discoloured nail is most commonly due to a fungal infection (medically called Onychomycosis). See the pictures below with a healthy nail, then early fungus in the centre & extensive fungus on the right.
BUT WAIT ……………….. THERE”S MORE ………………. START THE SCARY MUSIC
This is what can develop – I’d be hiding my toes if I had them – ugly, painful & hard to fit shoes. AND, this is not uncommon.
SO HOW DID I GET IT?
Great question. Most commonly it develops like tinea. You have perhaps been away, stayed in a hotel & used the showers. The fungus loves damp, warm environments so the bug has jumped across to your feet. Often it then needs a little crack (even microscopic) in a toenail & it enters there to live under the nail. It gradually causes the nail to change colour, thicken & separate from the nail bed. You may received the little pest from going to the swimming pool, shower at the gym, & even at Beauty Therapist’s if equipment is not sterilised.
Initially for most people it’s what we call a “cosmetic” problem, hence why you start to hide the feet. This problem doesn’t go away & gradually spreads through the nail & commonly entering other nails. Sounds pretty gross. At this point, it can start to cause some problems that are more than just cosmetic. The changes to your nail can then become painful, lead to other infections developing in & around the nail & which particularly in people with diabetes or older people with poor circulation, can be a much bigger issue.
For most they hate the look. So they hide their nails with nail polish (that actually makes it worse) or live in enclosed shoes (that also makes it worse).
SO WHAT DO I DO ABOUT IT?
Avoid it in the first place.. Get your feet out into the open more. Let them “see the light”. Basic hygiene is crucial – keep your feet clean & dry. Change socks daily. Put shoes outside to dry fully. Wear thongs in public showers & around pools. Visit good beauty therapists & ask if there equipment & instruments are sterilised.
BUT I ALREADY HAVE IT!
It’s time to befriend a good Podiatrist. Let them look at your nail & confirm it’s fungal. Then discuss the options.
You have 4 choices
- Don’t treat & end up with nails that would scare a silver backed gorilla or effect your chance of finding a partner
- Topical anti-fungal paints – have a low chance of success & require daily or weekly treatment for up to 12 months
- Oral tablets – much better success but require a blood test, pathology testing & can cause liver problems
- Laser – highest level of success, requiring only 2 treatments & no side effects
At Footmed Foot & Ankle Clinics, we can assess, advise & direct you to the best treatment options.
So there you have it. You don’t have to hide your feet & toes. Show your feet some love & visit a Podiatrist. Love your feet & they will love you back with many, many years of amazing service.
Viva Le Feet!