Your Feet, Self Treat or See a Podiatrist?

At some point or another, almost everyone will have an issue with their feet or ankles. So how do you know when self-treatment is sufficient or when it is time to see a podiatrist? Just walk into any drugstore and you’ll see shelves full of over-the-counter self-treatment fixes for your feet and ankles. There are blister and corn pads, nail clippers, shoe inserts, fungus sprays, ankle braces and more. Following the guidelines below will help you know when it is time to see your podiatrist.

Certain conditions such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease (PVD) are strong indications to visit your podiatrist. In fact, anyone with these two conditions who has foot and ankle problems, should always visit the podiatrist even for minor issues. For people with these conditions, minor issues can become major health concerns when left untreated by a podiatrist. If you do not have these conditions, you should be wary of pain, color changes, drainage, heat, swelling, or open areas in or on any part of your foot or ankle. These types of problems warrant the help of a podiatrist to resolve the issue.

Use home remedies in moderation as they can sometimes cause a new problem or make existing problems worse. If there is any concern, see your podiatrist.

Advice for Common Foot and Ankle Issues

Blisters – Blisters on your feet can usually be self-treated. If a blister pops, cover it with a band-aid or sterile dressing. Watch it carefully to make sure proper healing is occurring.

Ingrown Toenail – Many people will try to contend with an ingrown toenail for far too long. Over-the-counter treatments for an ingrown toenail are not recommended. If you believe you have an ingrown toenail, see your podiatrist as soon as possible. Your podiatrist can safely remove the ingrown nail, prevent or treat infection and help you prevent the possibility of a future recurrence.

Warts and Fungal Nails – Over-the-counter medication for wart removal is relatively mild. If left on too long they can cause ulcerations. Your podiatrist can do a simple procedure to rid you of warts. A podiatrist also has more effective medications than you will find over-the-counter. Despite numerous suggestions of curing warts and fungal nails with duct tape, Vicks Vapo-Rub, white vinegar and other household items, there is no scientific evidence or research to support the use of these items.

Sprains and Strains – Initially sprains and strains can be treated at home using the “RICE” treatment…rest, ice, compressions, and elevation. If swelling does not diminish, it is best to visit your podiatrist to determine the exact cause such as a fracture or other issue causing the problem.

In general, if you have any condition with your feet or ankle that persists, don’t hesitate to visit your podiatrist. In some cases, not getting sufficient treatment can cause worsening and even other medical conditions with your feet and ankles.

Originally published in the “Ask the Expert” column of Asheboro Magazine.

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