Skin cancer is common, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Despite these shocking statistics, less than one-third of Americans apply sunscreen regularly to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays—and when they do, the feet are often overlooked.
During the spring and summer seasons especially, the feet are exposed to the sun’s damaging rays, putting them at just as great of a risk for skin cancer as other frequently exposed parts of the body, such as the face and arms. For this reason, podiatrists warn patients to pay extra attention to their feet during months when the feet are exposed to avoid the harmful effects of the sun.
The good news is that skin cancer of the feet is very preventable. For starters, always apply a generous layer of sunscreen to the tops of the feet, on and between the toes and to the soles of your feet. Reapply every few hours if you are outdoors for an extended period of time. If you are on the beach or at the pool, opt for water shoes rather than flip-flops which offer a sun-blocking mesh cover. And finally, inspect your feet regularly for unusual skin changes or abnormal growths.
Common Warning Signs
Because skin cancer of the feet can easily be mistaken for other, less serious problems--such as a wart, rash or fungal infection--it is important for patients to report any questionable symptoms to their podiatrist. Detecting skin cancer early is the key to optimal treatment.
Podiatrists are trained to diagnose and treat abnormal skin conditions of the feet. If a lesion is determined to be cancerous, our practice will recommend the best course of treatment for your condition.
Backpacks, paper, pencils and clothes are just a few of the things your youngster may need before the start of a new school year. When shopping for your child during back-to-school season and throughout the year, don’t forget to add proper fitting shoes to your shopping list.
Your child’s feet are rapidly changing and growing. In fact, feet grow so fast when kids are young that parents are often surprised at how often they need to change shoe sizes to accommodate the growth.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, parents should consider a few things when selecting shoes for their little one. Remember these tips the next time you buy a new pair of shoes for your child:
- Proper size: Ill-fitting footwear can lead to irritation and other problems, so always measure your child’s feet before buying a new pair of shoes. Because feet are seldom the same size, always buy shoes for your child’s larger foot.
- Avoid sharing shoes: Hand-me-down shoes can spread fungi such as nail fungus and athlete’s foot.
- Index finger: As a general rule, leave an index finger's width from the top of the big toe to the end of the shoe.
- Breathing room: Buy shoes made of natural, breathable fabrics that are soft and pliable like your child’s feet.
- Test them out: Always bring your child with you to the store to try on shoes before purchasing a new pair. When testing out shoes, the child should wear the socks that they would normally wear to ensure proper fit. Have your child walk around the store to test comfort and fit.
- Examine the shoe itself: Your child’s shoe should have a firm heel counter, adequate cushioning of the insole, good flexibility and a built-in arch.
Because kids’ feet are soft and pliable, pressure on them at a young age can easily cause foot problems and deformity. By promoting healthy footwear choices and consulting your podiatrist whenever you suspect your child has a foot problem, you can ensure the healthy development of their feet.
Like adults, children and adolescents can experience a variety of foot and ankle problems. Many foot problems, such as flat foot, are congenital, while problems like heel pain are usually the result of an injury.
Due to your child’s rapidly growing bones and tendons, many symptoms associated with foot and ankle problems can go unnoticed. For this reason, it is important parents pay attention to even subtle symptoms. Thorough, regular exams of your child's feet by a podiatrist may detect an underlying defect or condition and help minimize problems later in life.
Common Foot Problems
Children can experience a variety of foot problems, many of which go away as the child’s feet become more developed. This includes pigeon toes, flat feet and knock knees. In most cases, these congenital foot and leg problems do not require any medical intervention.
Plantar warts are common in children, especially during warm months when kids are more likely to walk barefoot. Forming on the bottom of the feet, these warts are caused by a virus that enters the skin, most often in public areas such as pools or locker rooms. The condition can be very uncomfortable — like walking on a small pebble or stone — but is also highly preventable and treatable.
Ankle sprains are very common foot injuries for active kids, especially those who participate in sports. Sprains occur when the ligaments supporting the ankle are stretched or torn. Mild ankle sprains heal with treatment, while severe tearing may require more extensive care, including extended immobilization followed by physical therapy. As a general rule, rest, ice, compress and elevate the child’s ankle immediately following the injury.
Ingrown toenails occur when one or both sides of the nail begin to break through and grow into the soft skin of the toe. This can lead to painful irritation and infection. Common causes of ingrown toenails include poorly fitting footwear, toe injuries or poor nail trimming. Caught early, a child’s ingrown toenail can be treated at home, but if the pain persists or the condition worsens, treatment by a podiatrist is necessary to eliminate the infection.
Choose Proper Footwear
Many pre-existing foot conditions can be relieved and new problems prevented by simply ensuring your child is wearing proper shoes. Shoes that are too tight can cause blisters, calluses and corns on the toes and heels. Ingrown toenails can also develop and become infected. A child’s feet are constantly growing and developing, so it may be necessary to change shoe size every few months. Additionally, shoes have a tendency to lose proper cushioning and arch support over time. Footwear that shows a lack of shock absorption or wear and tear should also be replaced to reduce the risk for injuries.
If you notice your child limping, constantly rubbing their feet, tripping frequently or consistently complaining of foot pain, then have them examined by your podiatrist or physician. Many problems can be easily identified and treated, and early intervention is the key.
The feet are perhaps one of the most overlooked parts of the body. Don’t wait until something is wrong to give your feet extra attention. Keeping your feet feeling healthy and looking beautiful is easy!
How to Keep Your Feet Healthy
Here are some simple steps you can take to stay out of our office for painful foot conditions:
- Inspect your feet regularly, being mindful of any changes in appearance, color and texture.
- Maintain good foot hygiene by washing and drying feet regularly.
- Choose proper shoes, and always wear the correct size.
- Keep feet dry to prevent bacterial infections by wearing moisture-wicking socks.
- Alternate shoes each day.
- Trim toenails straight across and gently file away sharp corners to prevent ingrown toenails.
- Avoid walking barefoot to prevent injury.
- When wearing sandals, remember to apply sunblock.
- If your feet hurt, don’t ignore the pain! Consult your podiatrist if symptoms worsen or do not resolve.
If you have diabetes, you should pay extra attention to your feet, as you are at a higher risk for developing foot problems due to nerve damage and poor circulation. Mild foot problems, such as ulcers, corns, cracked heels and ingrown toenails can turn into serious complications without proper care. Since even the smallest cut can have serious consequences, it is important that people with diabetes inspect their feet every day and visit their podiatrist for routine exams.
When to Consult a Podiatrist
If you are experiencing foot pain, don’t ignore it! Pain, redness, swelling or discoloration are not normal symptoms and should be examined by a trained specialist.
Whether you suffer from chronic heel pain, are embarrassed by toenail fungus or were recently diagnosed with diabetes, you can benefit from visiting a professional podiatrist.
Podiatrists provide medical and surgical care for people suffering foot, ankle and lower leg problems such as corns, warts, bunions and sprains. Conditions which damage the feet, such as arthritis, diabetes and peripheral arterial disease, can also be diagnosed and treated by a podiatrist. Even back pain can be traced to your feet and relieved through proper evaluation and treatment by a skilled foot specialist.
Not all foot and ankle problems warrant an appointment with a podiatrist. In some cases, rest, ice or even a change in footwear is enough to reduce the pain and get you back on your feet. But when foot pain and discomfort cannot be resolved by home treatment, you need a professional’s care—someone who specializes in foot-related injuries and disorders.
When to Call Our Office
Feet are invariably the most ignored parts of the body. Too many people dismiss foot health until there is a serious, painful problem. Whenever a foot or ankle problem lasts for several days, contact your podiatrist. Other signs that indicate a worsening condition and warrant medical attention include:
- Foot discoloration
- Pain and swelling in one foot
- A foot sore or wound that doesn’t heal
How often you should visit a podiatrist depends on the individual. Regular appointments can help you better understand the stresses and strains put on your feet and lower legs on a daily basis. Long-term care and prevention are also extremely important for individuals with diabetes, as podiatrists help prevent ulcerations and loss of limb with early diagnosis and care.
Remember, foot pain should never be taken lightly. Always consult your podiatrist for a proper diagnosis of foot disorders.
This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.