Foot Care for Summer (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION:
If the toe was the right shape, I wouldn't care so much about the nail. What is involved in changing the shape of the toe?

ZONG:
This is a hard question to answer without being able to see your toe. However, it would likely involve a plastic surgery type of skin procedure combined with minor bony procedures to realign and reshape the toe. In general, these types of procedures are done on an outpatient basis and are available across the country.

MODERATOR:
What is recovery time like for a procedure like this?

ZONG:
The recovery time for a toe procedure is relatively short. Most patients can return to a sneaker in approximately three to four weeks. And will be able to return to their shoes by the fifth or sixth week. Patients will be able to walk immediately following surgery, in the standard postop surgical shoe, until they are able to wear their sneakers.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Last summer I was having horrible foot pain that was diagnosed as plantar fascitis. My podiatrist had orthotics made for me, but they look unsightly in open summer shoes. Do you have any other suggestions for some arch support that I might be able to place in a slip-on type shoe for added support and to alleviate the pain?

ZONG:
Orthotics were not designed to be used in backless shoes or strappy sandal type shoes. For those type of shoes, they do make specialized Birkenstock type of sandals with orthotics built into the sandal, however not everybody has access to those.

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. The heel will take the pressure off the plantar fascitis and thus feels better.

There are other treatments for plantar fascitis, such as cortisone injections, and more aggressive therapies, such as shock-wave therapy, cryo surgery and traditional open surgeries. All of these options can be discussed with you by your local medical professional.

MODERATOR:
Let's talk about foot care on the beach. What should we be doing to take care of our feet on the beach?

ZONG:
One of the things people generally forget to do when they are at the beach is to apply sunscreen to their feet. Skin cancer such as melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, even on the feet. When it occurs in the feet, it generally has a worse prognosis, because it often goes undetected for a long period of time simply because people do not look at their feet. So when you're at the beach, be sure to apply sunscreen to your feet.

It would also be a very good time to examine your feet to see if there are any skin lesions or moles that are present. You should examine your feet for any skin lesions at least twice a year.

Also while you're at the beach, although it may be very tempting to go barefoot in the sand, there are things you'll want to avoid, such as sharp shells and other dangers to the feet. If you can, it is better to wear flip-flops or sandals rather than go barefoot. This is especially true if you're diabetic or have a neuropathy. If you have cuts or open sores on your feet, you should definitely avoid going barefoot or entering into the water for that matter as you can pick up a bad marine infection which can be difficult to treat.

"If your shoes aren't comfortable, they don't fit. When you purchase new shoes they should be comfortable the moment you put them on. There is no such thing as a break-in period."

MEMBER QUESTION:
What kind of moisturizer do you suggest for feet?

ZONG:
In general, if you do not have terribly callused feet, any type of moisturizer will do. What tends to work better are the thicker preparations such as creams, which can be purchased at the local drugstore.

More problematic feet may require prescription medications from your foot doctor. However, the previous tip about using Vaseline under occlusion, that is to sleep with your socks on with the Vaseline, should work very well for most people.

MODERATOR:
People have care routines for their faces but forget to care for their feet. What are your top five recommendations for daily foot care?

ZONG:

  1. If your shoes aren't comfortable, they don't fit. When you purchase new shoes they should be comfortable the moment you put them on. There is no such thing as a break-in period.
  2. Keep your feet dry and clean. Things such as foot odor, fungal nails, or athlete's foot arise from having sweaty feet. The drier your feet the less you are at risk for these problems. And your partner will thank you, too.
  3. Cut your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown nails.
  4. Avoid going barefoot, as this often leads to most foot problems.
  5. Every once in awhile, treat yourself to a nice foot soak or pedicure.

MODERATOR:
Dr. Zong, we are almost out of time. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final comments for us?

ZONG:
I enjoyed answering your questions, and I hope everybody keeps their feet healthy.

MODERATOR:
Pretty feet are healthy feet.

MODERATOR:
Our thanks to Oliver Zong, DPM, for joining us today.



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