Posts for: January, 2014
The polar vortex and temperatures far below zero are being stubborn and sticking around, so like it or not, there's sure to be plenty of cold days ahead this winter. Those keeping an eye on the news during this winter's Arctic-style weather may have heard warnings about how quickly frostbite can set in.
Frostbite happens when the skin and body tissues are exposed to cold temperatures. When exposed to extreme cold temperatures like we've had this winter, It can happen within minutes. Even in above-freezing temperatures, frostbite can occur when there's if there's a strong wind chill.
Some of the following types are more likely to develop frostbite:
· Those who take medicines called beta-blockers
· Those who smoke
· Those who have diabetes
· The very young or very old
· Those who have Raynaud’s
Meanwhile, some of the signs and symptoms of frostbite include the following:
· Pain or a prickling sensation that progresses to numbness
· Pale, hard and cold skin that appears waxy
· A burning sensation and swelling from collected fluid (this may last for weeks)
· A black, scab-like crust that may develop several weeks after exposure
· Some people may get tissue injury known as chilblains or pernio – not quite frostbite but cold injury to the capillaries. There may be redness, blistering, itching and pain to the exposed toes.
For those with frostbite, the key to treating it is to gradually warm the affected area. This can be done by doing things such as:
· Getting out of the cold. Once you're inside, remove wet clothes such as socks or gloves.
· Gradually warm frostbitten areas. Place frostbitten hands or feet in warm water. Wrap other areas in a warm blanket. Avoid direct heat, such as a heat lamp, a fireplace or a heating pad – this can cause burns that you may not be able to feel while your skin is numb.
· Don't walk on frostbitten feet – this could further damage the tissue.
· Seek emergency medical help if you have numbness or sustained pain.
The key is prevention. Keep warm, don't stay outside for extended periods of time, and always wear gloves and protective boots. Shearling-lined boots or gloves can keep those digits warm.
If you think you might be suffering from frostbite or chilblains, call our Lemont office (or if it's after-hours, an emergency medical care facility.) We can get patients into our office same-day, so don't wait to seek treatment.
By Diana Emini
It's January, and that means many folks around Lemont are likely working on New Year's resolutions that include getting in shape and incorporating exercise into their routines.
This time of year is often busy at gyms and fitness centers, so if you're spending the winter burning calories at the Lemont Park District's CORE fitness facility or at gyms such as Cardinal Fitness or Curves, don't forget to take care of your feet to avoid ending up with something such as a wart.
One way people tend to get warts is by going barefoot in public places such as showers, pools, gyms and locker rooms. A wart is a non-cancerous skin growth caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) that gets into the skin through small cuts, cracks or abrasions.
Over time, warts develop into hard, rough growths on the surface of the skin. They have their own blood supply and nerves, which is why a wart can be painful when there's pressure. The most common warts are those on the bottom of the foot – called a plantar wart – but they can grow on top of the foot as well.
If left untreated, warts can spread to other parts of the feet and hands. They can be hard to treat and can often come back, but fortunately, my partner, Dr. Diana Emini, and I offer a variety of options at DM Foot and Ankle.
Treatment options include:
Topical medication: These attempt to break down the wart by applying strong acid. This treatment may need to be repeated every few weeks until the wart is gone.
Oral medication: Vitamins that boost the immune system can also be recommended as part of treatment.
Laser: We offer a laser in-house to remove stubborn warts. To lessen the pain, a local anesthetic is typically used.
Cryotherapy: This freezes the wart with nitrous dioxide to help destroy wart tissue.
Surgical excision: The wart can be removed surgically under local anesthetic.
To prevent warts from happening in the first place, remember to change your shoes and socks daily, keep your feet clean and dry and disinfect your shoes and shower after each use.
Don't hesitate to seek the help of a podiatrist if you notice any suspicious growths. At DM Foot and Ankle, we can diagnose such problems and get you on the path to health.
By Michelle Kim
For many people, getting their fill of cold weather sports may not be limited to watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Plenty of locals from Lemont are sure to make ski or snowboard trips this winter to places such as Four Lakes in Lisle or Villa Olivia in Bartlett – not to mention resorts in Wisconsin or Michigan.
Skiing is great exercise, but can also damage the feet. Here are a few tips for the slopes from the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. After all, your feet and ankles act as shock absorbers and brakes while skiing – make sure they are protected.
Blisters and bruises
It may sound minor, but a bruise or blister can keep you off the slopes! The ankle, toes, top of the foot and front of the shin can get rubbed by ski boots – even those that fit well. Plus, moisture held against the foot can cause friction and cause blisters.
Remember not to pop a blister. If it breaks naturally, apply antiseptic and cover it with a bandage. Skiers who are prone to blistering in a specific area might consider dabbing Vaseline on that spot before skiing.
Ski boots have potential to aggrivate pre-existing issues such as bunions, while diseases such as diabetes – which can impact circulation – can get worse by the cold and footwear that doesn’t fit right. Before skiing, people with these conditions should consult a podiatrist such as Dr. Michelle Kim and myself at DM Foot and Ankle. For many conditions, keeping the feet warm and dry is the best prevention.
Boots should fit snugly – if they’re too loose, the feet and ankles can slide around. Meanwhile, the pressure and motion of skiing could lead to sprains, strains and fractures.
Your boots should be rigid enough to keep your feet, ankles and heels in place, with enough room for your ankle to flex. The toe should not be too tight. Check the fit of your boots by kicking your heel, then your toe, against the ground. If your foot slides forward and back, the boot is probably too loose.
Try on several pairs and wear them around the shop before deciding on a boot.
A good sock will keep your feet dry by wicking moisture from the feet while keeping them warm. Take your socks with you when you try on boots. Both podiatrists and ski experts recommend thin socks.
By Diana Emini
Thanks to pre-and post-holiday sales, you may have spent time shopping in recent weeks. In doing so, you've probably noticed there's a wide selection of shearling boots such as Uggs.
While these boots are good at keeping feet warm even during harsh Chicago winters, they may not be the best for the health of your feet.
While they're fashionable – they became a staple in many women's closets after celebrities such as Cameron Diaz, Katie Holmes and Gwenyth Paltrow began wearing them in the mid-2000s – one issue is that they don't provide much support.
In fact, the fur-lined footwear even made news a few years ago when they and their knockoffs were criticized by health experts in the United Kingdom. Experts even told the British newspaper the Mirror that Uggs were "harming the feet of a generation of young women.”
"With each step, the force falls towards the inside of the foot and the feet splay,” the head of the British College of Osteopathic Medicine told the paper. “This flattens the arch and makes it drop... The result can be significant problems with the foot, the ankle, and, ultimately, the hip.”
Ugg Australia has said their boots are meant for comfort, not performance, according to the New York Daily News. As a result. these boots can create problems if they're worn for long periods of time – or worn without socks. The Daily News reported the boots don't offer “control, cushion or support” that's needed for long bouts of standing or walking. Meanwhile, most people tend to walk on unforgiving surfaces such as concrete, asphalt or industrial flooding.
One solution to this is visiting a podiatrist to get an insert to slip inside your Ugg or shearling boot to keep your feet in the correct position. My colleague, Dr. Diana Emini, and I can help fit you with an insert for your Ugg at DM Foot and Ankle.
If you're having foot pain from these types of boots, don't hesitate to call our Lemont office. Winter has only just begun, but these steps can keep your feet warm – and safe – during the cold weather.
By Michelle Kim