There are certainly numerous foot and ankle conditions that can affect functionality, especially issues that develop in bones, muscles, and connective tissues found in the lower extremities. When you think about the broad spectrum of potential problems that can develop in your lower appendages, it is important to keep in mind that skin and toenail problems can also arise. These tissues are easily visible and happen on the surface level, but be careful not to dismiss them as superficial.
At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we offer effective foot care services for a variety of common (and not-so-common) nail and skin conditions, to not only help your feet look great, but also to relieve painful or concerning symptoms.
Common Toenail Conditions
Toenails might have provided greater benefit for our ancestors than they currently do in our modern world, where feet are usually quite protected by footwear, but this doesn’t change the fact they still can play a role in our health and wellbeing. In some cases, a toenail problem can be rather painful or cause severe discomfort. At other times, nails can be the source of embarrassment or self-consciousness. Either way, remember to always make Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists your choice for first-class toenail treatment.
Some of the more common toenail conditions we treat for patients include:
- Black toenails. In a majority of cases, a black toenail is simply a matter of blood pooling between the nail and its bed (subungual hematoma), but discolored nails should still always be checked out by a medical professional. One of the possible causes of black toenails is malignant melanoma (skin cancer). In the context of black toenails, this is very rare, but also very serious and it needs to be addressed at the earliest stage possible.
- Ingrown toenails. This is an extremely common issue that develops when toes are jammed together in the front of shoes that are too tight and narrow, or when toenails are trimmed in an improper manner. Nails can also become ingrown on account of physical trauma or even an inherited nail structure. The main symptoms of the condition are pain, tenderness, redness, and swelling along the edge of a nail.
- Fungal toenails. Toenail fungus is embarrassing, but it can also potentially pose a health risk to diabetic individuals. When you observe nails that are darkened, discolored, dull, brittle, and ragged, you may have a fungal infection and will require professional treatment (since the condition will not go away on its own).
Skin Infections and Issues
Being the surface layer of the body, skin plays an essential role in protecting us from external threats. It also enables us to recognize when an issue is present. Abnormal sensations (itching, burning), discoloration, and unusual warmth or coldness are all indications of an existing problem.
Specific skin issues include:
- Athlete’s foot. This fungal infection is not, in spite of the name, one that only athletes contract. On the contrary, anyone who visits damp, humid environments (like gym showers and locker rooms, pool decks, etc.) or wears footwear that traps in moisture could be at risk. Athlete’s foot is marked by an itching, burning sensation, but is often effectively treated with the use of over-the-counter antifungal products.
- Dry skin. Skin that is damp or moist is more likely to contract bacterial or fungal infections, but dry, cracked heels is also a health concern. Cracks and fissures from overly dry skin, especially in the heels, can allow microorganisms to enter the body and cause problems.
- Plantar warts. Warts are fairly commonplace, but their origins are a mystery to some people. They are not caused by toads, but are actually the result of a viral infection from the human papillomavirus (HPV). These viral growths are not necessarily dangerous, but they can cause physical discomfort and embarrassment. Also, they can be easily passed along and are best treated by our professionals here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists.
If you have developed any condition affecting the health of your toenails or skin on your feet, Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists is ready to help. Our Austin, TX offices provide exceptional foot care services for clients from across our local communities. You can reach us by calling (512) 328-8900. If you’d prefer, you can schedule your appointment with us online today.