Athlete’s foot is a contagious condition caused by a fungus that results in itchy, burning, dry, and flaking feet. The fungus that causes Athlete’s foot is known as tinea pedis and thrives in moist, dark environments such as shower floors, gyms, socks and shoes, common areas, public changing areas, bathrooms, dormitory-style houses, locker rooms, and public swimming pools. Athlete’s foot can be difficult to treat due to its highly contagious and recurrent nature.
Athlete’s foot is spread by direct contact with an infected body part, contaminated clothing, or by touching other objects and body parts that have been exposed to the fungus. Because the feet are an ideal place for tinea to grow, thrive, and spread, they are the most commonly affected area. The fungus is known, however, to grow in other areas as well.
Aside from the feet, Athlete’s foot has been known to infect the hands, groin, and scalp. Around 70% of the population suffers from tinea infections at some point in their lives; however, not all of these cases are Athlete’s foot. Just like any other ailment, some people are more likely to get it than others. Those with a history of tinea infections or other skin infections, both recurring and non-recurring, are more likely to contract Athlete’s foot. On top of this, the extent to which a person experiences regrowth and recurrent tinea infections varies from person to person.
Sometimes people will not even know they have Athlete’s foot due to a lack of symptoms. Most people, however, experience mild to moderate flaking, itchiness, redness, and burning. Some of the more severe symptoms include cracking and bleeding skin, intense itchiness and burning, pain while walking or standing, and even blistering.
Due to the recurring nature of the tinea fungus and the Athlete’s foot it causes, practicing preventative measures is paramount. While it may be hard to completely avoid Athlete’s foot, wearing flip-flops or sandals in locker rooms and public showers can help reduce your risk by reducing direct contact between your skin and the floor. It is important to keep the feet clean and dry, which will allow them to air out and breathe. If you suspect you have Athlete’s foot, immediately see your podiatrist to determine what treatment is best for you.
Sesamoiditis is a condition that affects the joint that is just behind the big toe in the area known as the ball of the foot. It is most common in younger people and people who have just begun an exercise program. Since the sesamoid bones are like a pulley controlling the big toe, they can rub against each other and cause pain. Pain may also be caused by the inflammation of tendons surrounding the bones. If ignored, sesamoiditis can lead to other, more serious problems such as severe irritation and fractures of the bones. The cause of sesamoiditis is sudden increase in activity. The ball of your foot acts as a springboard to help you lift off when you are jogging or running. Sudden increase in the use of these bones or the tendon that controls them can cause irritation. The tendon then begins to develop inflammation and the joint begins to swell. People with smaller, bonier feet or those with a high arch are typically more susceptible to this condition.
Sesamoiditis is simple to diagnose since the symptoms have a gradual onset rather than a sudden impact. The symptoms begin with slight irritation around the joint shortly after the increase in activity. The discomfort eventually turns to pain with light swelling and possible redness. Although redness or bruising is rare, either may occur. After each session of exercising, the aggravated joint becomes more irritated and can exacerbate into intense throbbing. Treatment for sesamoiditis can vary depending on the severity of the condition. However, treatment for sesamoiditis is almost always approached in a noninvasive way. For a case that is just beginning, the doctor may recommend a very strict rest period that will limit activity and stress on the joint. If you are active, a recommendation for a modified shoe or insole along with bandaging and immobilizing the big toe will be made to ensure that pressure is not placed on the joint. For severe cases, it is usually recommended that the joint and the big toe be completely immobilized to allow adequate time to heal. Ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help with the pain and discomfort while you are at rest. When you return to your regular exercise activities, it is recommended that you use an insole that will allow for even distribution of impact to your entire foot, rather than just the ball of your foot. This will prevent further aggravation of the condition.
Foot and Ankle Trauma
A broken foot can either refer to a fracture or a straight break. The location of any break can tell you how the break happened. Toes, for instance, break typically as a result of something being kicked hard and with great force. Heel breaks almost always are a result of an improper landing from a tall height. Twists or sprains are the other two frequent occurrences. As with all usual breaks, they result from unexpected accident or sudden injury. As with stress fractures, breaks form as a process over time from repeated stress on already present cracks. Runners, dancers, and gymnasts are the usual athletes who receive this type of break. Stress fractures result from incredible pressure on the feet. It is no surprise these athletes bear the majority of reported fractures.
Pain, swelling, bruising, and redness are all indicative of the typical symptoms from a broken foot. Severe pain—to the point of not being able to walk—usually depends on the location of the break in the foot. Toes are on the lower scale of pain threshold, but heels are high, as are a few other particular bones. As the severity of the broken foot increases, symptoms like blueness, numbness, misshaping of the foot, cuts, or deformities will become apparent. These symptoms indicate the need to see a medical professional with access to an x-ray facility.
Prior to seeing a specialist, precautions should be taken to reduce pain and swelling. Elevate and stabilize the foot, and refrain from moving it. Immobilization of the foot is the next priority, so creating a homemade splint is acceptable. Keep in mind that while creating a splint, any increase of pain or cutting off blood circulation means that the splint should be removed immediately. Use ice to decrease swelling and relieve pain symptoms.
When dealing with a medical center, the patient should note that the treatment can vary. The treatment will depend on the severity of the fracture and the cause of the break. Crutches, splits, or casts are common treatments while surgery has been known to be used in more severe cases in order to repair the break in the bones.
Broken ankles are a serious injury that can lead to an inability to walk, function, and also cause a significant amount of pain. A broken ankle is a break in one of the three bones in your body that connect at the ankle joint, the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. The tibia and fibula are your two primary leg bones that connect at the knee, which sit directly upon the talus bone. This is protected by a fibrous membrane that allows for movement in our ankle joint. A broken ankle is usually caused by the foot rolling under or twisting too far, causing one of these three bones to snap.
A broken ankle is different from an ankle sprain, which occurs when the ligaments are ripped or torn but no bones have been broken. A sprain can still be very severe, causing bruising in the foot and an inability to hold your own weight, much like a broken ankle would. If you’re unable to stand, and suspect that you have a broken ankle, the first thing to do would be to get an immediate x-ray to determine the severity of the break.
A common cause of broken ankles is when the ankle is rolled over with enough pressure to break the bones. This usually happens during exercise, sports, or other physical activity. Another common cause is a fall or jump from a tall height.
One immediate treatment for pain relief is elevating the feet above your head to reduce blood flow to the injured area. You can also apply ice packs to your ankles to help reduce swelling, redness, inflammation, and pain. After these initial steps, getting a cast and staying off your feet as much as possible will aid in the recovery of the broken ankle. The less movement and stress the ankle has to endure, the more complete it will heal. A doctor can determine if surgery is needed in order to heal correctly. In these cases, an operation may be the only option to ensure the ability to walk properly again, followed by physical therapy and rehabilitation.
It is highly important to determine if surgery is needed early on, because a broken ankle can become much more severe than you realize. If not professionally treated, the broken ankle will inhibit your walking, daily functioning, and produce a large amount of pain. Treating your broken ankle early on will help prevent further damage to it.
Diabetics must be wary of all wounds, regardless of depth or size. Diabetes, a chronic disease in which the body cannot properly use glucose the way it normally would, causes various complications that make wounds difficult to heal. Nerve damage or neuropathy can cause diabetics to have trouble feeling the pain of a blister or cut until the condition has significantly worsened or become infected. A diabetic’s weakened immune system can make even the most minor of wounds easily susceptible to infection. Diabetics are also more prone to developing narrow, clogged arteries, and are therefore more likely to develop wounds.
Wounds should be taken care of immediately after discovery, as even the smallest of wounds can become infected if enough bacteria build up within the wound. To remove dirt, wounds should first be rinsed under running water only. Soap, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine can irritate the injury and should be avoided. To prevent infection, apply antibiotic ointment to the wound and cover it with a bandage. The bandage should be changed daily. The skin around the wound may be cleaned with soap.
To prevent further exacerbation, see a doctor—especially if you have diabetes. Minor skin conditions can become larger problems if not properly inspected. As the wound heals, make sure to avoid applying pressure to the affected area.