Today is our FIRST EVER guest blog! My colleague and friend Dr. Ara Kallibjian, who is a very fine podiatrist practicing in Parma, kindly agreed to share some thoughts about common foot problems. Podiatrists are surgical specialists who only treat problems below the knee. Take it away, Dr. K!
Every local drugstore has aisles of “do-it-yourself” medical fixes. For your feet they have blister and corn pads, insoles, fungus sprays, and nail clippers. So when you have foot and ankle problems, how do you know when to deal with them at home using over-the-counter (OTC) products? When should you see the podiatrist?
BLISTERS: Blisters on your feet can often be handled at home without professional intervention. If the blister pops, cover it with a sterile dressing or Band-aid and watch it carefully to make sure it heals properly.
INGROWN TOENAILS: If you suspect that you have an ingrown nail, it is best NOT to use OTC products. See your podiatrist as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of infection. The doctor can safely remove the ingrown nail and may be able to alleviate the problem entirely for the future.
PLANTAR WARTS: OTC wart removal medication is relatively mild but can cause skin sores if left on too long. The podiatrist has more effective medications and can also do simple procedures to rid you of warts. Wart removers should never be used if you have neuropathy except under the supervision of a podiatric physician.
TOENAIL FUNGUS: There are numerous blogs and articles about treating onychomycosis (fungal nails) and warts with Vicks VapoRub, duct tape, bleach, white vinegar, and other household items. However there are no scientific data or evidenced-based research studies to support these treatment options.
SPRAINED ANKLES: Sprains and strains can be treated at home initially with the “RICE treatment” – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If swelling is persistent, a visit to the podiatrist’s office is in order to determine if there are any broken bones.
NAIL CARE: (editor’s note, LOL!) Yes, ordinarily you can trim your own nails, but if you’re diabetic you should be super-careful. I tell people all the time that diabetic neuropathy (loss of feeling) starts very slowly and can be hard to spot at first. Your big toe is as far away from your eyeballs as you can get! Trimming your own toenails can be tough and if you cut yourself you might not realize it. Having someone else (like a podiatrist!) safely cut your nails is a wise choice and is covered by insurance (including Medicare) if you’re diabetic.
Occasionally, home remedies can cause a new problem or make existing problems worse, so use them all in moderation. Anyone with diabetes or peripheral vascular disease (PVD) who has foot and ankle problems should always opt to visit the podiatrist for even minor concerns. People who do not have diabetes or PVD should also be wary of pain, color changes, drainage, swelling, heat, or open areas in or on any part of the foot or ankle. These signs warrant a professional’s experience in dealing with the problem.
Thanks so much Dr. K! Anybody with new or persistent foot and ankle problems would be wise to give him a call at 440-743-2525. His staff is very helpful and friendly, and Dr. Kallibjian is an absolute bulldog about getting foot problems healed quickly.
Question: Have you seen a podiatrist in the past, and what was your experience like?