With summer in full swing, our feet are now on display nearly every day. With people paying more attention to the appearance of their feet, now is a great time to note different issues that commonly come into play during the summer months.
Skin Cancer on Your Feet
It’s important to remember that skin cancer can affect any part of the body, including the feet. Unfortunately, people often forget their feet when protecting their skin from the sun. Even fewer think to check their feet for suspicious moles or markings.
According to New York City Podiatrist Dr. Oliver Zong of NYC Footcare, malignant melanoma of the lower extremities usually occurs on the soles of the feet, in the spaces between the toes, and in the areas around the nails, or even under the nails.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to stay out of the sun and to wear sunscreen. It is also equally important to do self-examinations. If you detect any changes to a mole or skin lesion, Dr. Zong recommends visiting with your dermatologist as soon as possible.
Plantar Warts May Be Lurking in a Pool Near You
Plantar warts are hard growths that appear on the soles of the feet. They are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV thrives in warm, moist environments, which is why it is easily spread at public swimming pools, communal showers, gyms and locker rooms. The virus can also enter the skin after having direct contact with someone who is already infected. Unlike other types of warts, a plantar wart can be very uncomfortable and are often painful. Because people develop immunity against these viruses as they get older, plantar warts are more common in children than in adults. Dr. Zong provides the following useful information on the symptoms of plantar warts and how they can be prevented and treated:
- Small, bumpy growths on the soles of the feet that may feel spongy.
- They may have dark spots on their surface (tiny capillaries that supply blood to the wart).
- Extreme tenderness in the soles of the feet when standing or walking.
- Bumps that interrupt the normal lines and ridges on the skin of your feet.
- May cause bleeding if scratched or traumatized.
- Often cause pain on the bottom of the foot and may feel like a stone in shoes.
- Because of the pressure from standing and walking, plantar warts rarely rise above the skin’s surface.
Are Your Sandals Causing Blisters?
Painful, fluid-filled blisters are the result of excessive friction between shoes and feet. Take preventative steps by making sure shoes fit properly and are laced up so that they are form fitting to your feet. To prevent blisters follow these tips:
- Treat areas on your feet that are sensitive to blisters before they happen
- Over-the-counter moleskin or blister pads are helpful for problem areas to prevent blisters from forming
- Don’t pop blisters. The blister and the fluid inside act as natural, sterile dressings for the wound. Apply a protective strip (Band-Aid) to protect the wound
Flip Flops May Actually do More Harm than Good
During the summer Dr. Zong often sees patients with symptoms of heel pain, plantar fasciitis, or tendonitis of the various muscles of the foot. In fact, a new study published by Auburn University has found that flip flop wearers took shorter steps and their heels hit the ground with less vertical force than when the same walkers wore athletic shoes. According to Dr. Zong, “a soft-soled shoe generally does not allow the foot to naturally roll from heel to toe since it generally has a softer midfoot – and the lack of support will generally cause more injury then good.”
Dr. Oliver Zong is a podiatrist in Manhattan’s influential Financial District. As one of the premier cosmetic foot surgeons in the country, he serves as the Director of Surgery at NYC Foot Care and is on the Board of Directors at Gramercy Park Surgery Center. Besides traditional and cosmetic foot surgery, Dr. Zong is also an accomplished cryosurgeon and co-founder of the Podiatric Cryosurgery Center of New York.