Our podiatrists can look after all your general podiatry needs including the treatment of calluses, bunions, corns, ingrown nails, cracked heels and plantar warts at our St. Ives location.
Calluses and Corns
Calluses are thickened outer layers of skin caused by increased pressure or friction on the affected area. The callus is the body's defence mechanism to protect underlying tissues. A corn is essentially a callus where a hard plug of skin forms from increased pressure and pushes deeper into the skin. Corns will usually cause more pain than a callus.
Podiatrists treat corns and calluses by debriding the callus and removing the centre of the corn. Pads are often used to reduce the friction and pressure of the corn. Our podiatrist's will also discuss the type of footwear most likely to cause corns or calluses and in some cases prescribe orthotics to reduce excessive weight bearing forces on the foot.
If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, peripheral arterial disease or any condition that causes peripheral neuropathy, it is important to have corns and calluses treated by a podiatrist to minimise the chance they will develop into a wound.
An ingrown toe nail occurs when the nail penetrates or presses against the skin adjacent to the toenail and is most common on the big toe. Pain and inflammation usually are the first symptoms followed by infection.
Ingrown nails are usually caused by incorrect cutting techniques, picking at the nail, acute injuries or wearing shoes that are too tight, short or narrow at the end.
Many ingrown toenails can be treated without the need for surgery, although conservative measures may mean that you have to visit a podiatrist at regular intervals. If surgery is required it can be done in the podiatrist's rooms and the patient is able to walk immediately afterwards. Refer to the page about "Nail Surgery" for more information.
Cracked heels are usually caused when the skin around the heel is dry and thick or callused. They are referred to as heel fissures and when they are deep they can become infected. There is usually pain if weight is placed on the affected area.
Some people who have dry skin are predisposed to having cracked heels. Also mechanical factors, for example, the way you walk, may put pressure on the dry, thickened skin around the heel.
To help reduce the dryness, oil based moisturising cream may be recommended. The thickness of the callus needs to be reduced but this should not be attempted at home with razor blades or scissors due to risk of infection and the danger of removing too much skin.
It is advisable to consult a podiatrist who will debride the hard, thickened skin safely and hygienically. Regular treatment may be the best way to manage the problem. A podiatrist will also investigate the problem to determine the cause and provide advice about footwear and self-care. Orthotics may be recommended to change the way you walk and prevent build-up of the callus.
Plantar warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which infects the upper layer of the skin. In order for the wart to grow there must be a break or lesion in the skin. They usually occur on the bottom of the foot, so they can be painful due to their weight bearing position on the foot. Warts appear as a small lump of hard skin with black dots and are painful when squeezed.
Warts may disappear after a few weeks or last a few years but should be treated if they are spreading or are painful. Treatment options used to treat warts include;
- Chemical treatment i.e. Salicylic Acid, which is a mild acid and may be applied topically to the wart which kills the viral cells.
- Cryotherapy works by freezing the wart with a very cold substance (usually liquid nitrogen).
Most warts require multiple treatments with 1-3 weeks between each treatment.
Ways to prevent plantar warts from occurring include the wearing of protective footwear in public places such as pools, gyms, locker rooms and other wet, warm environments.