Thank you so much for joining me on today’s episode of Simple Health Radio.
Today’s question of the day comes to us from Ricky, known as the Jolly Rancher Commander. He is the host and producer of Geek’d Up Radio. He has a very interesting podcast that talks about a lot of the recent movies and other pop culture topics. You can listen to his show at geekdupradio.podbean.com
He sent in a question about a problem he’s been having with his foot. Let’s take a listen:
First off, let me thank Ricky for taking the time to record a question and send it to us.
When we talk about foot rashes, there’s a lot of different causes. Feet are naturally exposed to a large number of chemicals, debris, liquids, infections, and irritation.
As a medical doctor, I always ask certain questions to get a better history. The questions I would ask in this case include the following:
When had you first noticed the rash?
What color was the rash when it first started?
What color is the rash now?
Were there any blisters?
Was there thickened skin?
Was there any smell or odor?
Was there any bleeding?
Is it painful?
The answers to these questions will help to rule in or rule out other causes.
Then I would ask what treatments have been tried and whether any of them were successful.
I don’t have any photos of this particular foot rash, however, I’ll talk about some of the common conditions and some of the possibilities that could be creating the symptoms.
The most likely rash based on the description is going to be athlete’s foot. The medical term is tinea pedis. Tinea is another name for a yeast infection or a fungal infection.
Feet have a high risk of developing fungal infections because the foot is moist, exposed to locker room floors, enclosed in shoes and socks, and sometimes just neglected in day-to-day activities.
Fungal infections grow very slowly. It takes weeks or months for them to actually appear.
Common sources of fungal infections include the gym, work boots, swimming pools, or cleaning out the garage.
Fungal infections are not painful. When someone is exposed, the roots of the fungus actually grow underneath the skin initially. It can take several months for them to grow into a certain size and then pop up to the surface.
Fungal infections are usually yellowish or whitish in color. The sole of the foot is usually affected. Sometimes there’s a smell.
There are several over-the-counter medications available to help treat fungal infections like athlete’s foot. These include names like Lamisil, tinactin, ketoconzale, and terbinafine. The dilemma is that most people don’t use creams long enough. For example, if it takes 3 months for a fungal infection to develop, it’s going to take at least 3 months of daily treatment for it to go away. It’s not the surface of the skin that I’m worried about, it’s the deeper roots that are underneath.
Fungal infections are untreated, can infect the toenails or fingernails. That is a very bad situation. Toenail and fingernail fungal infections require over a year of treatment to fully resolve. If these infections are not treated, people develop thick, twisted, and discolored nails that become very brittle. Often times, they just fall off and don’t grow back. It’s a very sensitive cosmetic issue if people are missing toenails. This affects men and women equally.
So again, I started with a fungal infection because I think that’s the most likely cause of the current symptoms. I would recommend seeing a family doctor or a foot doctor called a podiatrist so they can do some basic testing to confirm if it is a fungal infection and then start treatment immediately. Normally, if the case is very severe, they do a combination of prescription antifungal creams as well as oral anti-fungal tablets. That will improve the chances that the infection goes away quickly and doesn’t spread to the opposite foot or to other people in your own home.
If there is a fungal infection, I recommend spraying the inside of the shoe or just buying a new pair of shoes altogether. Any socks that have been contaminated should be thrown out. I recommend keeping extra socks in your truck or your car and changing them out 2 or 3 times a day. There is also an antifungal powder by prescription. Basically, this powder is activated with sweat and that helps to absorb the moisture and also kill the fungal infections at the source. The key is going to be diligent. You have to do this every single day for months in order to get relief.
There are a few other treatments you can try. Soaking your feet in warm water mixed with Epsom salts for at least 15 minutes every night is beneficial. Epsom salt is a very old remedy that helps to soften the skin and also kills some infections. There are no side effects with Epsom salts. It will not cause any burning or pain.
Tea tree oil has been studied recently. It’s available at almost every grocery store. There are some chemicals in the oil that help to moisturize the feet and if he used daily connection he helped to stop certain types of mild fungal infections.
Another option is to get a pedicure. This is recommended for men and women. With a pedicure, a lot of the dead skin can be removed and they can do some treatments to help improve the moisture retaining ability of the skin itself.
Now, if it’s not a fungal infection, there are a few other possibilities.
A corn of the foot is a small area that has a lot of keratin. The medical term is hyperkeratosis. It’ll bulge out from the skin and it may become discolored. But it’s not going to spread if it’s just in that localized pressure point region. That can be treated with some over-the-counter medications including Dr. Scholl’s or by using a small adhesive pad to protect it in the shoe.
Calluses are larger areas of thickened skin. These will be layers that build up and it’s based on the way you walk, stand, and the style of shoes that you wear. Calluses by themselves are not harmful. But often times, when you get a pedicure it helps to pare them down. With careful hygiene, these should not get infected.
Plantar warts are caused by viruses and become larger over time. They are painful and highly contagious. They can spread on one foot, to both feet, hands, and even the face. You don’t want warts to spread to other family members. There are over the counter methods to treat warts, but many are simply frozen off in the clinic.
An eczema is a form of atopic dermatitis. This type of rash is extremely itchy. It becomes irritated, especially in between the toes. It can flare up with asthma attacks or food allergies. Eczema is treated with moisturizers and steroid creams.
Psoriasis is very similar to eczema, but the rash will be silver in color. Some of the rashes can be very large and it is linked with certain types of arthritis.
Staph infections or bacterial infections are never good. These will result in abscesses or boils, ingrown toenails, fever, and pus. If these infections develop, people generally need antibiotics and possibly drainage of the wound to prevent it from spreading.
The feet are often neglected for different reasons. But it’s important to keep a close watch to prevent complications. I do recommend that you see your doctor so they can give you a proper diagnosis. They’re also going to check you for diabetes, poor blood circulation, or any nerve issues. If people have problems and any of these conditions, there’s a high risk that though develop complications in the future as well.
So let me thank Ricky again for sending in a great question about foot rashes. You can listen to his podcast called Geek’d Up Radio by visiting his website geekdupradio.podbean.com
I will update our show notes with the information I talked about today.
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Thank you again for spending time with me on today’s episode. I hope you’ll tune in again next week.
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