Foot Care for Summer (cont.)

Severe cases of athlete's foot sometimes are resistant to the over-the-counter topical creams. In which case, an oral preparation may be better, but this should be discussed with your local medical professional.

MODERATOR:
What are some of the things we should do to avoid athlete's foot?

ZONG:
Athlete's foot is caused by a fungus. In fact, it is the same fungus that causes fungal nails. So if you have fungal nails, it is very likely that you will get athlete's foot. The reverse is also true. If you have athlete's foot, it's very likely you can infect your nails, as well.

Some of the things to avoid athlete's foot are the same as for avoiding fungal nails. That is to say, to keep your feet dry and clean, avoid walking around barefoot -- especially in communal areas, such as showers at the gym and other community type situations. If you have a cut or abrasion on the bottom of your feet, you should definitely not walk around barefoot, as this is often a way for the fungal spores to spread into the skin and cause an infection. This is where during the summer wearing sandals or flip-flops is more advisable than going barefoot.

"There are several types of procedures that are available today for correcting bunions."

MEMBER QUESTION:
I would like to know how I can relieve myself of foot pain caused by a big bump on the side of my foot by my big toe. My toes are curled also, causing me pain in certain shoes. I don't really like having to wear sneakers.

ZONG:
It sounds like you have a bunion and several hammer toes. Oftentimes, some arthritic changes can occur with these foot deformities. Even if there are not arthritic changes, it may be very painful to fit into "normal or stylish" shoes. With these foot deformities, in general, conservative treatment would include wearing proper shoe gear, that is to say, a wide toe box and avoiding pointy-toed shoes, but does not necessarily mean wearing ugly shoes.

However, as is the trend in many big cities, the trend is towards wearing "limo" shoes, which are shoes you wear to parties and functions, which only allow you to walk from the limo to the party. In those cases, one may opt for cosmetic foot surgery in which the bunion is shaved off and hammertoes are straightened and the foot is narrowed to allow you to fit into a normal and in more extreme cases, stylish pointy shoes. This, of course, is a personal decision and should be taken up with your local medical professional.

MEMBER QUESTION:
But I want to wear pointy-toe shoes. How can we do this?

ZONG:
Of course, when it comes to fashion, everything is a personal decision. The decision for surgery is not one that you should take lightly; however, if you do want to have surgery, you should discuss this matter with your local medical professional.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I have a painful bump on the side of my big toe. I'm told it's a bunion. Is surgery going to keep me out of work a long time?

ZONG:
There are several types of procedures that are available today for correcting bunions. In the past, bunion surgery often required extensive time off, up to two months in fact. However, bunion surgery techniques have improved and generally most people are able to return to work within a few weeks after bunion surgery, some people in as little as one week, depending on patients' personal pain tolerance.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I had bunion surgery on my left big toe about 12 years ago and a pin was put in at this time. The result was great and I've had no problems until a few weeks ago. I've developed a painful swelling over the area of the surgery and was concerned that the pin might be causing it. Is this likely the cause? I've been scheduled to have the foot X-rayed. Do you often see problems with bones containing pins in the feet?

ZONG:
If you do have a pin in your big toe, it is possible that it may be the cause of the swelling. Sometimes, after years have gone by, implants such as pins or screws can come loose, or in the worst cases, become infected.

What you are doing is very good. An X-ray will help to see if it is, indeed, the pin that is causing the swelling.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My little toe is shaped so strangely, like it is flattened on its side instead of being shaped like my other toes (it almost seems like it has three sides instead of four sides). It has very little toenail too. What if anything can be done? Is there cosmetic surgery for feet?

ZONG:
There absolutely is cosmetic surgery for the feet. These days, many people, mostly women, do opt for some sort of toe procedure, such as reshaping of fifth toes, or pinky toes, toe shortening and toe lengthening, even. However, there is not too much that can be done about the toenail. But the toe definitely can be reshaped.

"Most patients who complain of plantar fascitis, experience the pain more acutely when they are wearing flats, so commonly we will advise our patients with plantar fascitis to wear a low-heeled shoe."

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