By Sana Butler
After being covered by socks and stuffed into boots all winter, it’s time to free your feet and spring into a new season. While buffing off dry skin is a rite of pampering at the nail salon, pedicures alone may not get your feet into top toe shape. A simple cosmetic problem can also lead to a medical issue requiring surgery if you let a condition go untreated for too long. “People should see a podiatrist regularly even if they don’t need surgery,” says Andrew Glass, DPM, podiatrist and podiatric surgeon in New York City (nymidtownpodiatry.com). “Most people in New York walk a lot or they’re on their feet all day,” says Dr. Glass. “This makes it easy for the body’s weight to take its tool on feet.” Adding to that, more men now are suffering from bunions, as the latest male fashion includes the pointy shoe. Below are Dr. Glass’ tips for getting your feet ready to be shown off this season.
“By far the most common complaint in my patient population,” says Dr. Glass. “Once you have a bunion, there is no going back.” Until now, the only way to smooth the bump of bone on the side of the foot was to break it. Now, a new minimally invasive surgical procedure can fix it with two small 1-stitch incisions, followed by a quick recovery. “I do recommend orthotics post-operatively,” says Dr. Glass who suggests SOLS orthotics, which are made using 3D-printing technology.
This claw-like condition on the second, third, or fourth toe is usually a genetic problem in 10 to 20 percent of men and women. Daily exercises—such as gripping the floor with toes, toe crunches, and strengthening—may help improve tendon flexibility if the condition is new. “Tendons could be lengthened through a 1-stitch incision as well, but sometimes bone removal is needed, depending on the severity of the condition,” says Dr. Glass.
Tight shoes usually create the problem, as they encourage the nail to grow into the skin, but fungus can also be a cause. If you have the latter, treating the fungus should also get rid of the ingrown nail; and soaking in warm water with Epsom salt will help alleviate pain. Don’t wear shoes or socks at home to allow your toes to breathe; and if there are signs of infection or if the ingrown toenail keeps coming back, see a podiatrist.
If you ran on the treadmill a lot this winter then you can likely blame your sneakers. Some corns can be removed with the home treatment of a soak and pumice stone, as long as there is no tendon or bone causing the problem. “I don’t recommend corn removers, as they contain acids, which can permanently scar and deform the skin,” says Dr. Glass.
These unattractive patches of thick, hardened skin caused by constant friction from shoes are usually painless. Conservative treatment can be done overnight with urea cream or exfoliating scrub wrapped in plastic wrap. However, to stop repeat occurrences seeing a podiatrist isn’t a bad idea.
Andrew Glass, DPM, podiatrist and podiatric surgeon.