DrNDTV: Who is a podiatrist and what is his function?
Dr. Suri: Podiatry is a field of medicine which deals in the prevention and treatment of all foot related problems like corn, calluses and warts. Diabetic people have foot ulcers and infections, swelling in the feet and nail infection. Podiatry deals with all these kinds of things.
DrNDTV: Is it a new concept?
Dr. Suri: It is a new concept in our country although it is very prevalent in the USA, UK and other european countries. Now, even in India there are some hospitals which have foot clinics.
DrNDTV: The commonest foot problem is corns. Why do we get corns?
Dr. Suri: You develop corns if you are not wearing proper footwear or if your shoes or sandals are tight. Wherever there is more pressure on the foot, corns will develop. It is because of the friction with the shoes that corns develop.
DrNDTV: Are certain people more prone to getting corns?
Dr. Suri: Yes. Young women are more prone to developing corns because of the high heels and shoes that are tight from the front. Thus, the feet have to squeeze into a smaller space. And with every step a person takes there is friction between the side of the shoe with the feet and that develop into corns.
DrNDTV: How are corns treated?
Dr. Suri: We advice people to change to a more comfortable type of shoe. The other thing is to debride the corn. This is done with the help of a scrubber. Corn pads should never be used on the sole of the feet. If the corns are over the surface of the foot, then you can use corn pads because corn pads contain salicylic acid. If a person is having corn on the soles, then that salicylic acid denatures the skin and people land up with big ulcers.
DrNDTV: What are calluses?
Dr. Suri: Calluses are just a collection of dead skin. Wherever there is pressure on the foot, you will develop calluses which is thick yellow coloured skin. The best way to prevent them is to wear soft insoles in the shoes.
Caller: In winters my feet start itching. The itching starts in the night and wakes me up from deep sleep, and I have tried all sorts of medicines without relief.
Dr. Suri: You should try to use a good moisturizing lotion under your feet and take vitamin B12 and B6. Sometimes if your footwear is not proper, you may develop dry skin.
DrNDTV: What is the best footwear?
Dr. Suri: Proper footwear are those that have good cushion insoles. Whatever shoes or sandals one wears should be broader from the front. It should be soft so that it doesn’t cause excessive friction with the skin. Women can, no doubt, wear high heels but they should not be very high. Block type of a heel would be a better option. They should wear these for three to four hours at a time.
Caller: I have varicose veins and it is giving me some discomfort in walking and standing.
Dr. Suri: The best thing for you would be to try to wear tight socks. One should use a stocking, particularly a stocking which is from the toes of feet to the below knee or above knees so that the blood flow in the veins is not stagnant. You should wear soft shoes and broader shoes, not a tight shoe. You should also use some type of moisturizing cream.
DrNDTV: What is the treatment for ingrown toenails? Can it be treated without surgery?
Dr. Suri: Yes. Usually ingrown toenails in the initial stages can be treated without surgery. One can scarp the end of the nail, which is going into the nail bed. And one should always wear broader shoes. Ingrown toenail is mainly due to improper footwear. Otherwise, ingrown toenails usually need surgery.
Caller: I am a diabetic. My foot has very dry skin cracks. What is the permanent cure for that?
Dr. Suri: Diabetics do have problems of dry feet. You can take a bowl and put you feet in lukewarm water for about 10 to 15 minutes and you can take a scrubber and scrub the dead skin from the undersurface of your foot, and use a good moisturizing cream. And where there are cracks you should use a medical antibiotic ointment to prevent any infection. With diabetes, if cracks are there, you can develop infection on those cracks.
Caller: My mother-in-law has a fungal infection in the nail. She is diabetic also.
Dr. Suri: If a nail has got fungal infection this is called onychomycosis and that nail needs to be totally debrided. You also have to use some anti-fungal solution and antifungal ointments so that the new nail, which comes, will be free of the fungus. Diabetic people have lots of problems with the fungal infection.
DrNDTV: Why do people get fungal infections?
Dr. Suri: People get fungal infection if their feet are sweaty or wet. We can catch fungus from the floor of our bathrooms or from common pools. If a person has fungal infection, the best thing to do is to change the shoes and slippers because the inner lining of the shoes also have fungus from the foot. You also need to change your socks daily. Antifungal solution, antifungal ointments plus sometimes oral antifungal agents have to be given to patients so as to remove the fungus infection.
Caller: I wear leather shoes the whole day but my feet are always wet and have a bad smell. I wear cotton socks, please give me some solution.
Dr. Suri: If a person has sweaty feet, one should change the socks regularly and use some type of talcum powder inside the socks. Put some talcum power on your foot and put them into the socks and then wear shoes. One should step out of the shoes after every five or six hours. Alternatively you should use breathable type of shoes, a snicker which is not having any synthetic material.
Caller: What is the main cause for shoe bite?
Dr. Suri: The main reason to develop a shoe bite is a tight shoe. These develop mainly on the big toe or on the little toe or on the side big toe or around the sides of the little toe. You should change your shoes into a broad one and have a high toe box. Toe box is the space between the roof and the floor of the shoe.
DrNDTV: Some people have the problem of heel pain. What is the reason for that?
Dr. Suri: Heel pain is a very common problem and develops mainly because of improper footwear. The whole body weight is transmitted from the legs to the heel bone. If there is not sufficient cushion under the heel bone then cracks develop in the muscle in the foot which is known as plantar fascia.
DrNDTV: How it is treated?
Dr. Suri: It is treated by some medicines to reduce the swelling. We also give soft type of insoles or heel pads, like silicon heel pads and other PPT pads are available. Some exercises are advised to strengthen the muscle which has got the cracks.