Our Blog
By Southern Maryland Foot & Ankle
October 19, 2016

A fungus is a common mold. It thrives in dark places that are moist and warm. The fungal infections that we treat most frequently at Southern Maryland Foot & Ankle are athlete’s foot (also called tinea pedis) and fungal toenails. Fungal infections are highly contagious and are spread by direct contact. In some cases infections develop because of environment (closed-in shoes, sweaty socks, heat, humidity) and in other instances a weakened immune system from diseases such as diabetes can increase the likelihood of contracting a fungal foot infection. The good news is you can take steps to help prevent fungal infections. Here are some tips:

  • Wear shoes made of natural materials that breathe and are designed to allow air to circulate around your feet.

  • If you sweat excessively, consider changing your socks more than once a day.

  • Don’t wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row.

  • Avoid walking barefoot in public places such as gyms, locker rooms, community swimming pools, dorm showers.

  • Wash feet daily and dry completely, especially between your toes.

  • Don’t share socks, shoes, nail clippers or files.

  • If you get professional pedicures check to see that your salon follows proper sanitizing and disinfecting practices for foot baths and nail implements.

  • Dust feet with anti-fungal powder if you are susceptible to fungal infections.

If you notice itchy, red, scaly skin or toenails that appear discolored or thickened and crumbling, make an appointment at our Waldorf or Clinton office. Our board certified podiatrist, Dr. Larry J. Hotchkiss, will examine your skin and toenails and prescribe the appropriate treatment if it is determined that you do have a fungal infection. Left untreated, fungal infections can spread to other parts of the foot or body so if you see symptoms, don’t delay in seeking medical care.

By Southern Maryland Foot & Ankle
October 13, 2016
Category: Proper Foot Care

It’s estimated that over 38 million people in the United States will be hitting the hiking trails this fall. If you’re one of them, at Southern Maryland Foot & Ankle we want to be sure you’re prepared. Although autumn hikes with the cooler temperatures and changing leaves can be particularly enjoyable, they can also result in foot injuries that range from mild—shin splints and blisters, to severe—ankle sprains, fractures and injuries to the Achilles tendon. Many of these and other conditions can be prevented if hikers take proper precautions. Keep yourself safe and avoid these frequently made mistakes:

  1. Not having the right gear. Obviously, when it comes to your feet, good quality hiking boots are a must. Your boots should be moisture-proof (damp feet are more susceptible to blisters and athlete’s foot), have serious ankle support and a thick sole. Dress in layers so you avoid being cold or overheated. Consider two pairs of socks to keep feet dry and comfortable.  A hiking stick will also you find your footing on uneven trails.

  2. Choosing a hike that is too difficult. Be sure to investigate the hiking trail you’re considering not only for length but also for the terrain. Steep ascents and descents can be very hard on your knees and Achilles tendon, particularly if you are out of shape. The middle of a 5 mile loop is not the time to discover you’re on a trail that is too difficult for your fitness level.

  3. Forgetting about first aid. Hikers should carry a small, basic first aid kit with bandages, moleskin, an ace bandage or sling and cleansing pads with antibacterial ointment in case of minor injuries. Make sure you have cell service or know how to get help if a more serious injury should occur.

  4. Ignoring the signs of an injury. Pain, swelling, bumps and bruises are all signs that an injury has occurred. Not seeking treatment will almost certainly result in more severe damage. Make an appointment at our Waldorf or Clinton office as soon as possible if you believe you may have injured a toe, foot or ankle. Our board certified podiatrist, Larry Hotchkiss, DPM, will want to examine your foot, assess any damage and prescribe the proper treatment if necessary.

By Southern Maryland Foot & Ankle
October 04, 2016
Category: Foot Conditions

Here’s a foot fact you may initially find surprising: at Southern Maryland Foot & Ankle once temperatures turn cooler and fall arrives, we see an increase in two conditions in our women patients, bunions and Haglund’s Deformity. Why? Autumn brings back closed toe and back shoes and that’s when these two problems become especially noticeable.

Bunions—this bone deformity occurs when the big toe begins to move out of place and causes the joint at the base of the big toe to enlarge and protrude. Closed toe shoes or high heels that force toes into the front of the shoe irritate the bunion as the shoe rubs over the bump. As the condition worsens, the skin becomes more irritated and tender and corns or calluses may also form making it increasingly painful to walk.

Haglund’s Deformity—this condition is also known as “pump bump” or retrocalcaneal bursitis. It is an enlargement that forms on the back of the heel bone—right about at the point where the back of a pump hits your foot, hence the name “pump bump.”

Getting Relief

For both of these conditions, our board certified podiatrist, Dr. Larry Hotchkiss will want to examine your foot and take a medical history; there are hereditary components to both bunions and Haglund’s Deformity. In some cases an x-ray may be necessary to completely assess the progression of the condition. Once a diagnosis is confirmed the foot doctor will recommend the right treatment for you. One simple way to relieve the pain of both of these problems is by changing the type of shoes you are wearing or using padding to protect the painful area. Other treatment methods aimed at pain relief may include anti-inflammatory medications and icing.

If autumn has brought you to the point where you no longer want to put up with the pain of a bunion or Haglund’s Deformity, contact our Waldorf or Clinton office for an appointment and learn how to get rid of the pain and make walking a pleasure again.

By Southern Maryland Foot & Ankle
September 28, 2016
Category: Foot Health

Did you know that one in three children in this country are overweight or obese? Studies show that obese children are highly likely to become obese adults. Obesity has a negative impact on foot health, increasing the risk of developing several conditions such as arthritis, metatarsalgia and plantar fasciitis. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. At Southern Maryland Foot & Ankle we support efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle. 

Childhood obesity rates have more than doubled since 1980. Obesity puts children at risk for diseases that were once only diagnosed in adults, including high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, there are ways to help reverse this trend. Small changes can bring big results. Below are some tips to help children achieve and maintain a healthy weight:

  • Increase active family time: walk, bike, swim, hike, play catch or shoot hoops. If you have concerns about your child’s feet, make an appointment for an evaluation with our board certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Larry Hotchkiss, before increasing fitness activities.

  • Help your child reach the goal of 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

  • Involve your children in preparing healthy meals and choosing healthy foods at the grocery store.

  • Substitute fruit, vegetables and other healthy snacks for sugary ones.

  • Encourage your children to drink water instead of sodas or other high-calorie drinks.

  • Limit combined screen time (TV, computer, hand held games, video games, etc.) to 2 hours a day or less.

  • Participate as a family in outdoor chores: leaf raking, snow shoveling, digging in the garden.

  • Suggest an event for your child’s school, church school or scout troop that will promote an active lifestyle and educate community members about childhood obesity.

Being proactive now can help your child create habits now that will lead to a lifetime of foot and overall body health. If you have questions about how to care for your child’s feet, contact our Waldorf or Clinton office.


 

By Southern Maryland Foot & Ankle
September 22, 2016
Category: Foot Conditions
Tags: orthotics   blisters   calluses  

Most of us recognize a callus—that hard, thick area of skin that forms usually on the heel or ball of the foot or on the outside of the big toe. Calluses can be present for a long time without causing pain or discomfort. This is partly what makes them not appear to be a major medical issue. However, a callus is more than what you see on the surface. At Southern Maryland Foot & Ankle we want our patients to be informed about the significance of calluses and why you shouldn’t ignore them.

What’s Going On Below the Surface?

In most patients’ minds a callus is a skin issue, but in reality a callus forms as a result of a bone problem. Unlike blisters, which are caused by excessive friction or pressure on the outside of the skin, calluses develop due to internal pressure. Most often this pressure is from a metatarsal bone that is too long or too low that becomes irritated because it is being subject to more pressure and shock than the other bones. Over time, a callus builds up to keep the soft tissue layers from being damaged. In some instances—when a bursa sac or nerve is between the protruding bone and the callus—a patient may experience sharp pains or soreness from the irritation this causes, making it difficult to walk or be on your feet for long periods of time.

Treating Calluses

The first step in properly dealing with a callus is finding out what’s causing it. Our board certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Larry Hotchkiss, will examine your foot and also take your medical history to help find out why the callus has formed. Once the underlying problem has been diagnosed, treatment can begin. Depending on how large and painful the callus is, the doctor may recommend one or more of the following:

  • Switch to different shoes that do not put pressure on the affected area.

  • Use an orthotic device in the shoe to relieve pressure on the point where the callus has formed.

  • Callus removal: this can be done in the doctor’s office or at home by soaking your foot in warm soapy water and gently sloughing off the dead skin of the callus with an emery board or pumice stone. Over-the-counter products are also available but usually involve a strong acid to peel away the skin which can cause damage if misused.

  • Padding to cover and protect the callus until it is healed.

  • Wearing extra thick socks to cushion the callus.

Be sure to inform your foot doctor of anything unusual going on with your feet when you have a podiatric checkup. Sometimes minor issues still need to be addressed to prevent long term pain and disability. Schedule an appointment at our Clinton or Waldorf office if you have foot concerns that need to be addressed.





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