Every drugstore has its aisle of “do-it-yourself” medical fixes. For your feet, you’ll find blister and corn pads, insoles, fungus sprays, and more. When you have a foot and ankle concern, how do you know when to treat it yourself or when to see a podiatrist?
• Blisters on your feet can often be handled at home without professional intervention. If your blister pops, cover it with a sterile dressing or a Band-Aid and watch it carefully to make sure it’s healing properly. However, if you have a reoccurring blister, visit a podiatrist to find the cause and get a fix to the problem.
• If you suspect that you have an ingrown nail, it’s best not to use over-the-counter products. See your podiatrist as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of infection. The doctor can safely remove the ingrown nail and may be able to alleviate the problem entirely for the future. There’s a permanent correction for income nails, just ask your podiatrist.
• Over-the-counter wart removal medication is a relatively mild but can cause ulcerations if left on too long. You can try to alleviate warts on the feet with these products. However, the podiatrist has more effective medications and can also do simple procedures to get rid of warts. Wart remover should never be used if you have neuropathy, except under the supervision of a podiatry physician.
• Despite numerous blogs and articles about treating onychomycosis (fungal nails) and warts with Vicks VapoRub, duct tape, bleach, white vinegar, and other household items, there are no scientific data or evidence-based research studies to support these treatment options. The use of oral medication and lasers are more effective.
• Sprains and strains can be treated at home initially with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). If swelling persists for more than two weeks, visit the podiatrist’s office to determine if there are any broken bones.
• Anyone with diabetes or a peripheral vascular disease (PVD) who has a foot or ankle concern should always opt to visit the podiatrist for even a minor issue.
Occasionally, home remedies can cause a new problem or make existing problems worse, so use them in moderation. Be wary of pain, color changes, drainage, smiling, heat, or open areas in or on any part of the foot or ankle. These signs warrant a professional’s experience in dealing with the problem.
Originally from PRO Pulse May-June 2012