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July 2010: Healthy Summer Feet

22 Jun 2010

Dr. Tammi Chapman is a podiatrist at Weiss Memorial Hospital. Her areas of expertise are sports medicine, preventive medicine and foot surgery. She is a member of the Weiss sports medicine team that provides medical services to the Chicago Red Stars women’s professional soccer team and the Chicago Sky women’s professional basketball team.

Tammi Chapman, D.P.M.
Weiss Memorial Hospital
(312) 236-3507

As warmer weather arrives, more of us start to wear sandals, flip flops and all types of “not so good for our feet” shoes. When we are not careful with our selection of shoes, foot problems can arise. Following are some common problems and simple solutions.

When a shoe is too tight or too loose, friction can result in a blister. A blister is formed when fluid collects just under the top layer of skin. The pressure of the blister can then cause pain on the surrounding nerves. Soaking the area in warm water and Epson salts can help. To avoid a deeper infection, be sure to apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage to the area when wearing shoes. If a more serious infection does occur, such as redness or intense pain, you may need to see a podiatrist for proper treatment.

Ingrown toenails
Toenails can grow inward due to ill-fitting shoes and improper cutting. As we all know, when we wear sandals we like our feet to look great. Cut toenails straight across and be careful not to leave any sharp edges that may dig into the surrounding soft tissue and become infected. Be sure to keep your toenails short. If an ingrown nail does occur, soak the foot in warm water and Epson salts, clean the area with hydrogen peroxide and apply an antibiotic ointment to the area along with a bandage. If the infection does not resolve, contact your doctor. You may need an oral antibiotic and/or procedure to remove the offending nail edge.

Athlete’s foot and fungal toenails
Fungus of the skin and nails seems to be more prevalent in the summer months. This is due to the warm, moist environment in which the fungus grows; swimming pools are a breeding ground for these conditions as well. Over-the-counter athlete’s foot creams and sprays work very well. Avoid going barefoot because the fungus is quite contagious. In severe cases, a prescription for a stronger antifungal may be needed, in either an oral or topical form.

Fractures and soft tissue injuries
Foot fractures and injuries can occur from wearing improper shoes. When a lot of walking is required, wear a proper-fitting gym or walking shoe with a cotton sock. Flip flops offer no support and expose the foot to many possible injuries such as cuts, bruises and strains. A sandal needs to have good arch support. If there is no support, you may develop plantar fasciitis, pain in the heel and arch due to the strain of the fascia.

Keep your feet healthy this summer, and they will take you far.

For more information
If you would like more information about keeping your feet healthy and pain-free this summer and all year long, or would like an appointment, please call Dr. Chapman’s office at (312) 236-3507.