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Medical:  Foot Pain - Ingrown Nails, Cracked Heels

Many people tend to neglect their feet, even though we are using them all the time. This neglect causes ailments such as ingrown nails, cracked heels, and gout-related foot ailments.

Ingrown Nails
An ingrown nail is a condition in which the free edge of a nail plate penetrates the surrounding skin, either laterally or anteriorly. A secondary infection or granulation tissue may develop. This painful condition is caused by improper self-treatment, external pressure from tight shoes or stockings, internal pressure from deformed toes, growth under the nail, trauma, or infection.

Trimming the nails properly, such as clipping them straight across and filing the corners consistent with the contour of the toe, can prevent this problem.

Treatment: Active treatment consists of washing the foot twice a day, followed by the application of a local antibiotic ointment, and relieving the pain by decreasing the pressure of the nail plate on the surrounding soft tissue.

Warm, wet soaks help to drain an infection. A toenail may need to be excised by the podiatrist if there is severe infection.

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Your big toe is the South Pole of your body. Rather than being a temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, it is a chilly 93 degrees Fahrenheit down there. So maybe it is not surprising that crystals sometimes form in this anatomically arctic region.

The crystals are not ice, though. They are composed of uric acid, a by-product of normal metabolism that is supposed to stay in liquid form but sometimes becomes a solid.

Since your body regards those crystals as intruders, white blood cells rush to the area and release enzymes that are like attack dogs, specially trained to chew up trespassers.

Unfortunately, those enzymes are indiscriminately vicious. Besides attacking the crystals, they also attack the joint of the toe, which becomes red, swollen, and tender. It is so painfully tender, in fact that even the weight of a bed sheet can be excruciating. And that is when you feel the effects of gout.

Treatment: In treating gout, a comprehensive medication treatment is available. This includes colchicines, acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, colbenemid, corticosteroid, allopurinol, probenecid, fenofibrate, and losartan.

In most cases of gout, the reason for high uric acid levels is unknown. There are, however, certain avoidable risk factors that increase your chances of getting a first attack.

  1. Keep the pounds down If you are overweight, you are, basically, asking kidneys to process a lot of extra uric acid to deal with the waste from a lot of added-on body cells.

    When someone is overweight, the kidneys have to struggle to deal with the overload. That is why you may end up with gout. A good rule of thumb to determine your ideal weight is 100 pounds plus 5 pounds for every inch over 5 feet tall for women. For men, it is 106 pounds plus 6 pounds for every inch over 5 feet.
  2. Avoid thin soles Walking in shoes with very thin soles can also traumatize the toe joint. To be certain the shoes you buy have padding that is thick enough, walk on noncarpeted areas when you are trying them on for the first time. The shoe should be comfortable and have a little cushioning when you push down with your toes.
  3. Check your meds If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and your doctor has prescribed a thiazide diuretic to control the problem, you should talk to you physician about switching to another medication.

    Nowadays, there are many other drugs to treat high blood pressure, including beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and ACE inhibitors. Health experts say that if you are able to switch to one of these medications, you might avoid ever having a first attack.

Cracked Heels

They flake. They peel. They crack. They hurt. Nobody wants cracked heels. But certain factors trigger the formation of cracked heels, such as obesity, overuse of heels, types of shoes, etc.

Causes: Cracked heels are brought about by “dry skin.” This particular foot ailment is made worse if the skin surrounding the edge of the heel is callus or bulky.

With cracked heels, the skin can be very flaky and may entail bulky callus. These calluses become visible as dark brown or yellow discolored portion of the skin, especially alongside the edges of the heel.

Treatment: It is best to keep the heels well moisturized. Using oils and other types of moisturizers are the best ways to keep your heels moist and prevent cracked heels.

Foot ailments like these cannot be easily avoided. However, with the available treatments, you can ease the soreness without difficulty.

NEXT: Corns, Calluses, Diabetes, Foot Ulcers

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