All About Our Remarkable Toenails

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Your toenails are practically the lowest – and the lowliest – parts of your body. Every couple of weeks we pay them some attention when we give them a trim, and sometimes we throw on a coat of nail polish, but for the most part, they are ignored. 

But our toenails actually have lots of essential functions to help us walk and balance. 

Our Toenails Are Similar to Certain Mammal Claws 

Toenails are composed of keratin, which is a protein, and quite similar to animal claws. Remember this the next time your little kitten sinks her claws into your lap.

Where the nail starts is called the nail matrix, and most of it is hidden under your skin. Here the nail cells multiply and harden into nail material. Your cuticle is the skin where the toe meets the nail. Since the cuticle protects the toenail from infection, avoid cutting it in a pedicure. The actual nail itself is called the nail plate. The soft tissue under the nail, which anchors the nail plate, is called the nail bed.

Toenails Perform Important Jobs 

In addition to looking pretty when polished or buffed, our toenails protect the toes from injury. And even though the nails themselves have no nerve endings, they help enhance the sensitivity of the toe tips and their movement. 

Toenails grow more slowly than fingernails, but the growth rate is quicker in higher temperatures. In colder weather, when they are tucked away in socks and shoes, they grow more slowly due to the absence of light and air. 

Watch for Common Toenail Problems 

Ingrown toenails occur when the toenail presses into the skin on the sides of the toe. This injury often becomes infected. An ingrown toenail may be caused by trimming the nails in a curve, rather than straight across. Wearing tight or narrow shoes, or excessive wearing of high heels, can make the problem worse. Watch for reddening, warmth, swelling, and pain around the nail. 

Fungal nail is contagious, and the infection can be picked up in public areas such as pools, locker rooms, gyms, and spas. Toenail fungus will cause the nail to yellow, become crumbly or ragged, thicken, and sometimes emit an unpleasant odor. 

For these and other toenail problems, a visit to one of our five offices is in order for a professional evaluation and diagnosis and effective treatment. Avoid over–the–counter products for any toenail, foot, or ankle problem – let us help!

Learning the signs of Diabetes

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In the U.S., 30 million people have diabetes; approximately 7 million of these don’t know they have this disease. Learning the signs of diabetes can mean the difference between managing this disease and suffering from serious complications. Here are some common diabetes symptoms: 

  • Fatigue and hunger. Either your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or your cells resist the insulin that you have. This prevents your body from bringing glucose for energy into your cells. The result is that you will feel more tired and hungrier than usual.

  • Frequent urination. Your kidneys may not be able to absorb the excess glucose in your blood, so they will make more urine.

  • Increased thirst. Because you are urinating more frequently, you will be thirstier.

  • Itchy, dry skin. As you eliminate more fluids, your skin can get dehydrated and itchy, and your mouth may feel dry too.

  • Blurred vision. The changing fluid levels may cause your eye lenses to swell, change shape, and lose ability to focus.  

Be Alert for Diabetes Symptoms in Your Feet 

If your blood glucose level has been high for some time, you may notice differences in your feet.  

  • Numbness or pain in your feet or legs. Diabetes causes nerve damage called neuropathy because of excess glucose in your blood. Neuropathy can cause you to lose sensation in your feet, and you may not notice when they have experienced an injury.

  • Slow–healing sores. Diabetes can cause problems with your circulation and, when coupled with neuropathy, you may have a cut or sore on your foot that can quickly worsen into an ulcer.

If you suspect that you have diabetes, act quickly! Visit your doctor or schedule an appointment with us for a neuropathy check on your feet. The sooner you address symptoms of diabetes, the quicker you can begin to manage this progressive disease. 

Don’t Ruin Vacation Fun with a Foot Problem

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The last thing you want while vacationing is to be sidelined by a toe or foot injury. It’s always a good idea to take good care and protect your feet, but especially so when you are away from home. 

Whatever your destination may be, make sure that your feet stay healthy and ready for walking, hiking, or dancing. Here are our top tips to keep your feet happy and comfortable wherever you go: 

Pack appropriate shoes for each activity. Include sturdy walking shoes, flip–flops for protection on hot sand as well as in public areas like pools, slip–off shoes for ease getting through airport security. 

  • Add padded, comfortable socks to your luggage to avoid painful blisters.

  • Bring along sunblock with SPF of at least 30. Your feet are vulnerable to skin cancer, just like the rest of your body. Smooth on liberally and refresh every 2 hours or after swimming.

  • Don’t forget any necessary medications as well as your custom–fitted orthotics.

  • When traveling for a long time in a plane, bus, train or car, move your feet around frequently to help your circulation. Make the alphabet with your toes for a full range of motion and get up from your seat to stand or walk often.

  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. 

Add us your contact list and please call us if any toe, foot, or ankle problems arise! 

 

 

 

Back-to-School Shoe Shopping Tips

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With back-to-school season upon us, it’s time to purchase new backpacks, school supplies, and, most importantly, shoes. Before you bring your family shopping, here are a few guidelines for making smart shoe choices to help prevent or minimize foot problems.

1.     Shoes should fit. The best trick for buying shoes that fit is at the tip of your finger, quite literally. Purchase a size that is about a finger’s width from the end of the shoe to the tip of your child’s big toe. Children’s feet can grow up to two sizes in six months, so account for some growth when buying shoes, but don’t use it as an excuse to purchase shoes that are too big. Oversized shoes can cause your child’s foot to slide forward, putting extra pressure on their toes.

On the contrary, shoes that are too tight can cause blisters, corns, and calluses, or ingrown toenails that may become infected. If you notice your child is in pain, their toe is red, or fluid is draining from the nail area, give us a call, and we can provide you with treatment options.

2.     Shoes wear out. Over time, shoes lose their shock absorption, especially if you have busy kids! Inspect both new and old shoes to ensure they provide proper cushioning and arch support. Worn-out shoes can increase the risk of heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, and even ankle sprains and stress fractures.

If you notice wear around the edges of the sole, it’s time to replace your child’s shoes. Also, make sure the toe area of your child’s shoe doesn’t flex easily and that the shoe doesn’t bend in the middle of the sole. These are two signs that it’s time to purchase new shoes before foot injuries occur.

3.     Children with flat feet need additional shoe requirements. If your child has flat feet, purchase shoes with a wide toe box (a shoe’s front portion), maximum arch support, and shock absorption. The best shoe style for flat feet is Oxford with lace-ups and enough depth for orthotic inserts, if necessary.     

Follow these guidelines and your kid’s school year will be one step closer to a comfortable start! If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re here to help with your family’s foot care needs.