For most people, common foot ailments are either a nuisance problem or can be successfully managed with minor in-office procedures and preventative care. Unfortunately, diabetes and vascular problems drastically exacerbate the severity of these problems and can lead to limb loss or worse.
For most people, toenail fungus is strictly a cosmetic issue. Since the fungus confines itself to the nail and rarely causes problems, such as infecting the surrounding skin, you can live with toenail fungus indefinitely. In some cases, insurance companies may not cover treatment unless you have diabetes or another condition that increases the likelihood of toenail fungus causing a more serious infection.
People with vascular problems have other challenges to face when combating toenail fungus. Systemic treatments are not effective if there is inadequate blood flow to the feet. The best option may be to have the toenails removed and apply topical treatments or use lasers to kill the fungus and allow healthy nails to regrow.
Although you might notice red or irritated skin where your toenail seems to dig into the skin, it is not always an ingrown toenail. In some instances, the toenail is pressing into the skin but has not broken through, so it is impacted rather than ingrown. Removing the dead skin around the toenail through soaking and using a cuticle remover can prevent the toenail from exerting pressure on the area. Once the toenail breaks through the skin and becomes ingrown, you are at risk for infection, and the toenail needs to be removed by a doctor.
For people with diabetes or vascular insufficiency, the risks associated with impacted or ingrown toenails are magnified. With impacted toenails, the pressure can cause the skin to break down and ulcerate. Infection from an ingrown toenail can spread quickly when you have underlying medical problems.
Corns, Calluses, And Cracked Heels
Corns, calluses, and cracked heels are other common foot issues that can cause tremendous pain while standing or walking. Fortunately, most people can manage these conditions by having any hardened skin routinely removed and offloading the pressure by using shoe inserts or other pads. With diabetes or vascular problems, the underlying skin breaks down and ulcerates if the problem is not caught in time. Additionally, when there is inadequate blood flow, even when the thickened skin is removed and healthy tissue underneath is revealed, the healthy tissue may not heal. Some people with vascular issues may need additional testing to see if a vascular surgeon can restore blood flow to their feet. The ability to restore blood flow not only improves the healing of seemingly minor foot ailments, but it can also prevent gangrene from eventually affecting the feet.
People with underlying medical conditions should make visiting the podiatrist just as routine as visiting their primary care doctor. Many common foot issues can be managed or even prevented well before they turn into a life or limb-threatening problem. For more information, contact a local foot clinic like East Village Foot & Ankle Surgeons.