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Treating foot problems ahead of summer season

There are some common foot problems that plague us year-round, but as the weather warms up, your feet can suffer more.

May 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
There are some common foot problems that plague all of us year-round, but as the weather warms up, your feet can suffer more. And summer footwear like flip-flop sandals don't help either.

Summertime means warm weather, sandals and flip-flops. For people with foot problems, that can pose a problem. Experts say that doesn't mean you have to give up enjoying summer footwear, it just means you may need to get to the podiatrist's office.

Summer is when we show off our toes. And as Innocencia Carrillo will tell you, nail fungus is tough to hide and get rid of.

"Fungus is an organism that lives in a dark, damp, moist environment. And so when you wear a lot of closed-toe shoes, you're really at risk for that," said Dr. Franklin Kase, Burbank Podiatry Associates Group.

You can get fungus if you walk barefoot in public places, or catch it from someone else. Fortunately, Kase says, there are many ways treat it.

"There's some topical medicines that are effective, there are oral medications that are effective. And now we are using laser to treat fungal nails," said Kase.

Other common foot problems podiatrists tend to see in the summer are bunions and hammertoes.

"A hammertoe problem, or a corn -- what develops over a hammer toe -- is a bone problem, it is not a skin problem," said Kase.

Kase says many try to treat what they think is a corn with over-the-counter products and end up with infections.

"We hospitalize at least 10 people a year just because they've used these medicated pads," said Kase. "A bunion is a condition that develops when the large toe moves over toward the second toe and you begin to get separation between the metatarsals."

Innocencia Carrillo also has a bunion.

Kase says the pain of hammertoes and bunions can be alleviated with shoes with a wide toe box and arch supports, or orthotics, that prevent the foot from rolling in when you walk.

He says surgery should always be the last option.

Carrillo is trying to avoid surgery, so she changed her shoes and gets her toes checked regularly.

When it comes to summer shoes, Kase does not recommend flip-flops because they don't provide any protection or support.

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