Skin Conditions

There are several common skin conditions of the feet that can be problematic and may require medical intervention, including:

  • Athlete’s Foot
  • Corns and Calluses
  • Ganglion Cyst
  • Plantar Wart

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that affects the upper layer of the skin of the foot. The infection usually begins between the toes, but can also develop along the soles, arches, and sides of the feet. Athlete’s foot is contagious and easily spreads in public places like indoor and outdoor swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers, where conditions are warm and moist.

What causes athlete’s foot?

The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is Trichophyton and it is commonly found on floors and in clothing.

Since fungi can thrive and multiply under damp and warm conditions, there is a greater risk of developing athlete’s foot if you wear thick, tight shoes that squeeze the toes together or if you wear socks that are damp and the feet are warm.

What are the symptoms of athlete’s foot?

The symptoms of athlete’s foot may include one or more of the following

  • Scaly rash
  • Itching
  • Stinging
  • Flaking of the skin
  • Burning sensation
  • Scaling and redness between the toes
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Blisters
How does athlete’s foot spread?

Athlete’s foot can spread by direct skin-to-skin contact and by indirect contact with contaminated surfaces like floors, blankets, bedsheets, towels, or doorknobs.

Who is at a higher risk of developing athlete’s foot?

People who have weakened immune systems or have diabetes are more susceptible to developing athlete’s foot and should receive treatment right away.

How is athlete’s foot diagnosed?

Athlete’s foot is diagnosed using a skin lesion potassium hydroxide test where the doctor scrapes a sample of infected tissue and places it under potassium hydroxide (KOH). The KOH solution destroys human cells, leaving only the fungal cells.

What is the treatment for athlete’s foot?

When symptoms of athlete’s foot are mild, the condition can be treated with some effective over-the-counter medications. For more severe cases, our podiatrists would prescribe a more powerful antifungal medication.

What if athlete’s foot goes untreated?

It is important to treat symptoms of athlete’s foot as soon as symptoms appear, as it can spread from toe to toe or to a nail and cause a fungal nail infection.

How long does it take to get rid of athlete’s foot?

Depending on the treatment, athlete’s foot can take anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks to get rid of.

How can you prevent athlete’s foot?

Here are a few tips on how you can prevent athlete’s foot:

  • Wash and dry feet thoroughly, even between the toes.
  • Use powder to keep the feet dry.
  • Keep socks and footwear clean and dry.
  • Change socks several times daily.
  • Wear footwear made of breathable materials that allow air to circulate around the feet.
  • Avoid constrictive footwear, stockings, and socks, as they can trap moisture and perspiration on the feet.
  • Never share socks or footwear.
  • Wear flipflops or shower shoes in public areas such as showers, pools, and locker rooms. Don’t walk around barefoot in these areas.

Corns and Calluses

Corns are cone-like bumps caused by the buildup of hard, dead skin that forms on the toes as a result of repetitive pressure and friction on the toes caused by footwear or repetitive activities like running, climbing stairs or even skiing. Hammertoes and bunions may also be the cause of corns.

Calluses are thick hard skin that forms on the heel, ball of the foot, or sides of the foot as the result of repetitive pressure and friction on the foot from shoes, sports, daily activity, or from the way you walk. Your outer layer of skin has special skin cells called keratinocytes, which produce calluses.

Wearing properly fitting shoes with ample support in the toe box can take the pressure off your corn or callus and it may go away. If corns and calluses don’t go away on their own or with over-the-counter treatments, you should see our podiatrists for an evaluation and treatment recommendations.

Ganglion Cyst

What causes a ganglion cyst on the foot?

The cause of a ganglion cyst is an outpouching of synovial fluid from either a joint or tendon that is protruding towards the skin surface. These may arise as a result of a single traumatic event or from repetitive microtrauma. Typically these lesions are non-painful and do not require treatment, unless they are painfully applying pressure on nearby structures.

What are the symptoms of a ganglion cyst on the foot?

A ganglion cyst usually appears as a bump (mass) that changes in size, anywhere from 1-3 cm in diameter. It can be soft and doesn’t move. If the cyst is touching a nerve, it can cause tingling or burning.

For many patients, the cyst makes it difficult to wear shoes due to irritation between the lump and the shoe.

How is a ganglion cyst diagnosed?

Our podiatrists will do a thorough examination of your foot and press on the lump to see if it is moveable. They may also remove a small amount of fluid for evaluation. In some instances, we may order an x-ray and other imaging studies to confirm the diagnosis.

What is the treatment for a ganglion cyst?

There are both nonsurgical and surgical treatment options available for ganglion cysts.

Nonsurgical options may include:

Monitoring the cyst, but no treatment. If the cyst isn’t causing any pain or discomfort, your doctor may choose to watch it over a period of time.
Shoe Modifications. Your doctor may recommend that you wear different shoes that don’t rub or irritate the cyst. You may also be advised to place a pad inside the shoe to reduce any pressure against the cyst.
Aspiration and Injection. Your doctor may aspirate the cyst (draining the fluid) and inject a steroid medication into the mass.

When nonsurgical treatment options are not effective or the cyst keeps returning, your doctor may recommend that the cyst be surgically removed.

Plantar Wart

A plantar wart (Verruca Plantaris) is a small growth on the skin that develops when the skin is infected by a virus. Warts can develop anywhere on the foot, but typically they appear on the bottom (plantar side) of the foot. Plantar warts most commonly occur in children, adolescents, and the elderly.

There are two types of plantar warts:

  • A solitary wart is a single wart. It often increases in size and may eventually multiply, forming additional “satellite” warts.
  • Mosaic warts are a cluster of several small warts growing closely together in one area. Mosaic warts are more difficult to treat than solitary warts.
What causes plantar warts?

Plantar warts are caused by direct contact with the human papillomavirus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes warts on other areas of the body.

What are the symptoms of plantar warts?

The symptoms of a plantar wart may include:

  • Thickened skin. Often a plantar wart resembles a callus because of its tough, thick tissue.
  • Pain. Walking and standing may be painful. Squeezing the sides of the wart may also cause pain.
  • Tiny black dots. These often appear on the surface of the wart. The dots are actually dried blood contained in the capillaries (tiny blood vessels).

Plantar warts grow deep into the skin. Usually, this growth occurs slowly, with the wart starting small and becoming larger over time.

What is the treatment for plantar warts?

To diagnose a plantar wart, our podiatrists will examine your foot and look for signs and symptoms of a wart.

Although plantar warts may eventually clear up on their own, most patients desire faster relief. The goal of treatment is to remove the wart completely.

Our podiatrists may use topical or oral treatments, laser therapy, cryotherapy (freezing), acid treatments, or surgery to remove the wart.

Regardless of the treatment approaches undertaken, it is important that you follow all the doctor's instructions, including all home care and medication that has been prescribed, as well as attend all follow-up visits. Warts may return, requiring further treatment.

If there is no response to treatment, further diagnostic evaluation may be necessary. In such cases, our podiatrists can perform a biopsy to rule out other potential causes for growth.

Although there are many folk remedies for warts, patients should be aware that these remain unproven and may be dangerous. Patients should never try to remove warts themselves. This can do more harm than good.

Contact Us

If you have any of these skin conditions of the foot that are causing you problems, give us a call at (360) 309-0804 to schedule an appointment with our podiatrists.

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