How to Keep Your Feet Healthy During the Summer

Flip flop and sandal season is in full swing! Nothing beats freeing your feet from heavy winter shoes. As you go about your vacation and enjoy the outdoors, be mindful of how to keep your feet healthy this summer.

Put Sunscreen on Your Feet

Even SPF 100 has hit stores, and applying sunscreen has become an essential part of enjoying outdoor activities. It’s easy to remember to protect the face, arms, and legs from the sun’s harmful rays, but what about feet? Yes, even feet can become sunburnt! Ensure sunscreen is on your ankles, heels, and the backs and tops of your feet. Do this before putting on flip flops or sandals, as you won’t want an oddly shaped sunburn!

Limit Time Spent in Flip Flops

This quintessential summertime footwear has its ups and downs. While easy to put on and inexpensive, flip flops are flimsy and lack support. Continuous use can lead to arch and heel pain and tired and sore feet. So, while flip flops are perfect for wearing to the beach or letting the dog out, it’s best to wear more supportive shoes when walking for extended periods of time.

Break in Sandals Gradually

With a new season comes new shoes! Putting winter boots and sneakers in the closet and pulling out new sandals is thrilling. However, these sandal straps can apply uncomfortable pressure to your foot and cause painful blisters to appear. Prevent this by wearing sandals for short amounts of time until they’re broken in. Wear them around the house to loosen up the straps a bit, and you’ll be able to wear them on vacation without getting blisters.

Don’t Go Barefoot A Lot

Letting your feet go barefoot can be a great part of summer. Feel the firm hardwood floors, soft grass blades, cool water from the pool. This carefree state of mind makes summer even more enjoyable. Yet, walking around barefoot can lead to bacterial infections and plantar warts. So, when out and about in high traffic areas, like the locker room and hotel hallways, make sure to wear something on your feet.

Prevent Smelly Feet

An all too common part of the summer is having sweaty and smelly feet. You don’t need to feel embarrassed. Prevent foot odors from occurring by changing out socks daily, or even more when needed, and wearing open-toed shoes when possible. Remember to wash your feet every day and dry them carefully, and alternate shoes daily to let them dry.

Take Along Skin-Care Items

Bringing along first aid supplies is always a good idea. You never know when you might need them! Along with standard first aid supplies – like antibiotic cream to treat skin injuries and bandages to cover minor cuts and scrapes – pack these extra skin-care items for your feet:

  • Aloe vera to relieve sunburns
  • Blister pads to reduce friction and promote healing
  • A pumice stone to soften and exfoliate skin
  • Nail clippers to keep nails trimmed
  • A nail file to smooth rough edges

Consult a Podiatrist with Any Questions

Do you think your feet are not summer-ready? Or did you injure your foot on vacation and need medical attention? Talk with one of our knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center. We can identify the exact problem and help you get back to having fun in the sun! Call us at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment online today!

5 Foot Care Tips for Athletes

There are many aspects to being an athlete. It’s not enough to just watch what you eat, make sure you have the optimal amount of sleep, and devote enough time to practicing your sport. Taking care of your feet is also essential! Don’t wait until your feet hurt to take care of them or this could lead to more time sitting on the sidelines while others are competing.  Instead, follow these 5 foot care tips for athletes to maximize your athletic performance:

Choose the Right Footwear

It can be tempting to just grab a pair of shoes and go! After all, you have a practice to go to, a coach to meet, teammates to join, a game to win. However, it’s important to wear the right shoes for the sport you play, whether it’s running on the track or dribbling a basketball across the court. Read our article here on how to choose new shoes that are the right fit and prevent injuries from occurring during your workout. Above all, make sure the shoes are comfortable and supportive with a wide toe box, even if it means function over fashion.

Wear the Right Socks

Deciding on what type of sock to wear might seem insignificant. After all, if it’s a protective layer between the shoe and feet, shouldn’t any sock be ok? However, ill-fitting socks can lead to blisters and discomfort. Many professional athletes use sports compression socks. It’s ideal to wear socks that are lightweight and consist of moisture-wicking material.

Practice Good Hygiene for Your Feet

Did you know there’s more to keeping your feet clean than taking a shower? Here’s how you can keep your feet healthy and prevent fungus and bacteria from forming:

  • Keep your socks and shoes clean, and never wear wet shoes
  • Wear footwear in public places, like swimming pools
  • Change socks if your feet get sweaty, even if that means several times a day
  • Clean the entire foot, even between the toes, and dry both feet completely

Ease into New Sporting Activities

We know how exciting it feels to begin a new training program or sports season. This is especially true for those with seasonal activities like tennis. Getting out of the house, grabbing your gear, and stepping out onto the court is like a breath of fresh air! Yet, it’s important to give your muscles time to adjust to these new activities. To prevent injuries, make sure you ease into your workout by stretching beforehand and moving at a comfortable pace while gradually increasing your speed or intensity until you reach your goal!

Know When to Rest

Athletes can feel tired or have some aches after their workout, but they shouldn’t be in pain. While it might seem like it’ll go away and you can force yourself to play, doing so will make injuries worse. Rather than spending weeks to recover, it’s best to stop and rest your feet. You’ll be glad you did because then you can get back to the sport you love more quickly!

Know When to See a Podiatrist

If you are suffering from a foot or ankle sports injury or noticing pain in those areas, it’s time to see a podiatrist! Our friendly and knowledgeable specialists at The Foot & Ankle Center will know just how to help by providing thorough evaluations and personalized treatment plans. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment online with us!

9 Possible Reasons Why Your Feet or Ankles Are Swollen

Have you been experiencing swollen feet or ankles lately? Your hardworking feet may swell up and feel painful because of fluid retention, which can be caused by harmless everyday activities. Sometimes, however, swollen feet and ankles can be a sign of something potentially dangerous. Learn about the 9 reasons why your feet and ankles can become swollen and what you should do about it:

You’re on Your Feet All Day

If your job requires you to be standing or moving throughout most of the day, you may experience swollen feet on a frequent basis. Additionally, people who exercise vigorously or participate in sports may experience swelling in their feet. If this applies to you, here are some pro-tips: at the end of your busy day, soak your feet in cool water, rehydrate, and elevate your tired legs. A little bit of pampering will go a long way to keeping your feet healthy and happy!

You’re Overweight

Carrying extra weight on your frame adds pressure to all parts of your body, including your feet and ankles. Standing, walking, and exercising can all put additional strain on your feet when you’re overweight, which can lead to swelling. If you haven’t already, set some weight loss goals and work toward them in a healthy way. Even losing 5% of your body weight can make a huge difference!

You’re Pregnant

If you’re expecting soon and have noticed that your feet have been more swollen, don’t worry. Mildly swollen feet and ankles are usually a normal part of pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. Just keep an eye out if the swelling becomes excessive or doesn’t go down after you prop up your feet. If this is the case or if you’re also experiencing stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or headaches, you’ll need to make an appointment with your doctor right away since you could be experiencing preeclampsia.

You Have a Foot or Ankle Injury

This is one of the most common reasons why our patients visit us for swollen feet. Even if you’re not experiencing any noticeable pain or discomfort, an injury, sprain, or any type of trauma to the foot or ankle can cause swelling. Sudden swelling can spring up for a variety of reasons, including sprains, strains, and fractured bones. Remember to “PRINCE” – protect your feet, rest, and use ice, NSAIDs, compression, and elevation to accelerate your healing. If the swelling doesn’t go down or is accompanied with severe pain or difficulty walking, call your podiatrist immediately.

You’re Consuming Too Much Salt

That’s right, even a diet high in salt can lead to edema – swelling caused by fluid retention – in your feet and ankles. Take a close look at your diet and see if you’ve been consuming too much salt. Cut back on sodium and do your best to eat a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein each day.

You’re Taking Certain Medications

Various medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, can cause swelling. If you’re taking certain antidepressants, steroids, hormone replacement therapies, or blood pressure medications, it’s possible that you may experience swollen feet or ankles as a side effect from any of these medications.

You Have Decreased Blood Circulation

When arteries and blood vessels become restricted, your extremities can see more fluid retention, particularly your feet and ankles. This is especially true if you smoke or regularly drink alcohol. If you do smoke, we advise you to talk to your doctor and take steps to quit as soon as possible. Your lungs, heart, and feet will thank you!

You Could Be Suffering From Organ Disease

Various diseases, including heart, kidney, liver, and lung disease, can all contribute to swollen feet and ankles. Keep an eye out for swollen feet at night, unexplained changes in your weight, a loss of appetite, and fatigue. If you notice any of these symptoms, please consult with your doctor as soon as possible.

You May Have a Blood Clot

A blood clot in the leg, also known as deep-vein thrombosis, should never be ignored. It’s a serious medical problem that can lead to dire consequences. Blood clots can stop blood from flowing through your legs and back to your heart, which may result in swollen ankles, feet, and legs. Should you notice that any swelling is accompanied by leg pain, fever, color changes in your leg, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness, go to the emergency room right away. This can be a life-threatening condition that needs immediate medical attention!

Rely on the Experts at The Foot & Ankle Center If your feet and ankles are swollen for more than a few days after resting, elevating, and icing, and you experience headaches, fever, and pain, don’t ignore your symptoms. Call the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! Our doctors will provide a thorough evaluation to help determine the cause and set up the right treatment plan for you. Don’t hesitate – reach out today by calling (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment with us online!

What Are COVID-Toes and What Should I Do if I Have Them?

You’re probably familiar with the main symptoms that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) manifests: cough, fever, and shortness of breath. However, as time progresses we are beginning to notice a host of strange symptoms that millions of people have experienced, including anosmia (the loss of smell and taste), brain fog, hallucinations, and many more. Now it’s time to add yet another symptom to the ever-growing list: COVID-toes. Learn all about COVID-toes, what they look like, and what you should do if you suspect you have them.

What Are COVID-Toes?

This uncommon symptom is a dermatologic rash that affects the feet and/or hands of someone who tests positive for COVID-19. This blue or purplish-red rash often occurs on 1-3 toes and can usually be found on the tips of the toes, the tops of the feet, and/or the sides of the feet.

Who Gets COVID-Toes?

While there isn’t any solid scientific data on this yet, some emerging evidence shows that typically children and young adults who test positive for the coronavirus experience COVID-toes. This symptom is often one that develops early on, and patients may experience them if they have mild or no other symptoms of COVID-19.

What Are the Symptoms of COVID-Toes?

Keep a close eye on your feet and toes for the following symptoms. You may experience one, many, or all of these symptoms:

  • Red, purple, or blue lesions
  • Raised, painful bumps on the toes
  • Hot, itchy, or burning sensations
  • Pain and soreness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Scabs or blisters as the infection progress

COVID-toes often look similar to pernio (a.k.a. chilblains), a dermatological condition that occurs when your skin is exposed to cold temperatures for too long.

How Long Do COVID-Toes Last?

Here’s the great news: COVID-toes have been shown to clear up typically within a week or 10 days by itself. There have been instances, however, in which this condition has lasted for longer, even for months, but this is less common.

How Are COVID-Toes Treated?

Generally, no treatment is required for COVID-toes since they heal on their own. The discoloration should improve as your body clears the infection. If you do experience pain or itching, topical treatments such as a hydrocortisone cream may help ease your symptoms.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have COVID-Toes?

If you notice discolored toes or feet, don’t panic! Make an appointment with the doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center for an evaluation, especially if your symptoms persist or worsen. There are many other reasons why you may develop a rash on your toes or feet, including fungal infections, Raynaud’s disease, dermatitis, or reactions to medications you may be taking.

Count on the Experts at The Foot & Ankle Center If you notice anything unusual whatsoever, don’t hesitate. Call the friendly and knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! We can evaluate your symptoms and provide you with a treatment plan to help get you back on your feet. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment online with us!

Hammertoes Vs. Claw Toes: What’s the Difference?

Toes are amazing. These tiny digits provide us with the ability to maintain good posture and balance. They support our body weight, help us move forward, and allow us to do the things we love most. Sometimes, however, our toes get a bit bent out of shape. This is especially true if you find it difficult to stretch or straighten out one or more of your toes! If this sounds like you, you might be suffering from hammertoes or claw toes. What are hammertoes and claw toes? What is the difference between the two, and how are they treated? Find out all about these podiatric conditions below!

What Are Hammertoes?

Hammertoes occur when the proximal interphalangeal joint (PIP), a.k.a. the middle joint of the toe, becomes curved or bent downward due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments responsible for holding the toe straight. This contracture causes the PIP joint to be raised. Hammertoes generally occur in the second toe, especially if it happens to be longer than the big toe, but other toes can be affected as well. It isn’t uncommon for hammertoes to happen along with bunions either!

What Are Claw Toes?

Unlike hammertoes, claw toes typically affect several toes at once. Claw toes are contracted at both the PIP and the DIP (distal interphalangeal) joint – that is, both the middle and end joints. They cause the toes to curl up at the base, down in the middle, and down near the tip, resembling claws. This can occur in any toe aside from the big toe.

What Causes Hammertoes and Claw Toes?

Generally, both of these deformities can be attributed to an imbalance somewhere in the connecting muscle or tendon, which results in a progressive structural or mechanical change in the toes. People of any age can develop hammertoes or claw toes, although the risk does increase as you age. There are a few key differences in the causes behind each deformity:

  • Hammertoes: These tend to occur because of a mechanical or structural deficiency, a traumatic injury to the toe, pressure from a troublesome bunion, or even having high arches. Wearing ill-fitting shoes or developing arthritis can also lead to hammertoes.

  • Claw toes: Unlike hammertoes, claw toes are generally the result of a type of nerve damage caused by diseases like diabetes or alcohol abuse. This damage can weaken the tiny muscles in your toes, leading to claw toes.

Both of these podiatric deformities are progressive and will worsen or even become permanent if left untreated!

What Symptoms Might I Experience if I Have Hammertoes or Claw Toes?

Both hammertoes and claw toes can be painful conditions that can cause trouble with walking and lower your quality of life. Here are the general symptoms that these conditions can cause:

  • Burning sensation when bearing weight
  • Calluses and corns on the toe, between the toes, or on the ball of the foot
  • Distinct physical deformity of the toe
  • Joint stiffness
  • Pain, discomfort, and irritation, especially when wearing shoes or walking barefoot on hard surfaces
  • Painful and difficult toe movement
  • Swelling, redness, or inflammation
  • Wounds or ulcerations on the affected toe

How Are Hammertoes and Claw Toes Treated?

If you catch hammertoes or claw toes early enough, conservative correctional methods might be all you need to fix the problem! When your podiatrist checks out your feet, they will determine the best treatment for you and help slow down the deformity’s progress.

A few of the typical conservative methods podiatrists tend to use for hammertoes and claw toes include:

  • Custom orthotics to offload imbalances in the muscles and tendons
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for acute flare-ups
  • Padding
  • Recommending comfortable, supportive shoes to wear
  • Recommending particular exercises to strengthen and stretch your toe muscles
  • Removing any corns or calluses present in a pain-free manner
  • Splinting or strapping the toes
  • Taping the toes or feet

In more severe cases, however, surgery may be required. This is why it’s so important to act quickly and visit your podiatrist if you suspect a problem with your feet, ankles, or toes!

Can Hammertoes and Claw Toes Be Prevented?

Sometimes. Hammertoes in particular can often be a hereditary issue (especially if you or your family has a history of bunions), but the condition’s progression can be slowed! To keep your toes healthy and strong for as long as possible, remember to wear comfortable, supportive shoes with a wide enough toe box, avoid wearing high heels, and stretch your toes and feet regularly to maintain tip-top flexibility.

Count on The Foot & Ankle Center for Help! Think you might have a hammertoe, claw toe, or any other podiatric problem? Call on the friendly and knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center for help! You can reach us at (314) 487-9300 or request an appointment online!