Autumn Nail and Foot Care

As the days start to become colder and shorter, it may be time to swap your sandals for warm socks and boots! Now, although your feet will be hidden away for the next several months, this is not the time to take a break on regular foot care. Yes, your feet may feel cosy, but they’re also poorly ventilated causing them to become dry and itchy. Also, when feet are enclosed in heavy socks and shoes, they tend to sweat more, which can lead to fungal infections. Central heating can also dry out the skin and nails.

We have put together some tips for taking care of your feet and nails in the colder months:

Soak your Feet

A good foot soak is the basis of any foot care regime because not only will the heated water help soothe your chilly autumn feet, keeping them soft and smooth, but it can also be a brilliant way to relax. What better way to brush away the stresses of a busy day?

Keep your feet Clean and Dry

It’s very important in the colder months to clean your feet daily. Make sure to dry them well, especially between the toes and under the arch. If you are sitting in a warm office all day and your feet sweat a little, take a few minutes to rub some alcohol hand gel into the skin and let it evaporate before reapplying shoes and socks. This takes away the sweat.

Exfoliate

To make sure that dead skin is removed from the foot, you may want to pumice your feet as needed or see a podiatrist for hard skin removal.

Moisturise

To keep your feet from drying out, we advise moisturising the feet once or twice a day, especially around the heels and sides of the foot. The cold weather may tempt you to take a scalding hot shower, but the hot water can damage and dry out the skin. Instead, use warm water, then pat your feet dry and apply moisturiser. Be careful not to moisturise the nails or the area between the toes too heavily, as that may create an inviting environment for fungus.

Take a Nail Polish Break

In Autumn, your toenails aren’t constantly on display in flip flops and sandals like they are in the summer. Regularly applying polish to the nails can be unhealthy for them, so this is the perfect time to give your toenails a break.

Shoes and Socks

Germs such as fungal spores and bacteria stay in shoes and socks for a while. Even washing socks at 40 degrees may not kill off the germs so wash socks and hosiery at 60 degrees. If you are prone to fungal infections it may also be an idea to sterilise your shoes after every wear with an antifungal spray or ultra-violet light shoe sanitiser.

Nail fungal infections usually appear as a yellow or brownish discoloration of the toenail and can become thick and disfigured. If you are worried about your nails please contact us and we would be more than happy to advise you further.

Chilblains – a winter blight that can affect us at any age…a blog by UK podiatrist Martine Abrahams

The other day I was asked by one of my patients about chilblains – not something one hears much about these days, so I decided to jot down some info on this bone fide medical condition

chilblains-smallChilblains, otherwise known as ‘pernio’, are small, itchy, painful lumps that can develop on the skin.  Found on eithers hands or feet, they are caused by local poor circulation when the skin is exposed to cold.

Not a prolonged condition, these irritating lumps settle after about 7 – 14 days but if you are susceptible to this abnormal response to the cold, you should try your best to keep your extremities warm in winter.

Who suffers the most from chilblains? – Chilblains can strike at any age and both men and women suffer in equal number.  It’s thought that around 1 in 10 people in the UK suffer from chilblains, not only hands and feet they can also occur on the nose and earlobes – anywhere that becomes cold quite quickly, for example, horse riders might have problems with their lower legs and thighs….

chilblain-handsCauses of chilblains  – The reasons why some people are susceptible and others not is unclear, but we do know that the small blood vessel lying under the skin constrict when cold, which in turn reduces the amount of blood supply getting to the area.  As the skin warms there is some leakage of fluid from the blood vessels into the local tissues.  Inflammation and swelling result, leading to the symptom of chilblains.

Prevention is better than cure with this uncomfortable complaint:

  • One of the key ways to help avoid the chilblain taking hold is to avoid warming your self up too quickly after exposure to cold – avoid hot water bottles, sitting next to direct heat etc
  • Keep head, ears, hands, feet warm when outside in cold weather (heated glove and sock inserts can be a real help)
  • Keep the body as warm as possible – loose layers are best to trap body heat
  • Keep body and extremities as dry as possible
  • Some medication can constrict the blood vessels which leads to chilblain susceptibility – beta-blockers are one example

chilblains-foot-2Chilblains are uncomfortable but do not tend to leave lasting damage. If they become a real issue your doctor might consider a drug to help dilate the small blood vessels, but this is rarely indicated.

So, condolences if you are a chilblain sufferer!  Also, apologies for the lack of really constructive solutions for this sometimes debilitating problem.  The good news is that you only have another 4 or so months to avoid the cold – spring will be here before you know it!

One New York fashion editor swaps heels for flats – your feet will thank you says Martine Abrahams, UK leading podiatrist

American Elle’s fashion editor, Lauren Sherman declares that she’s fed up of the constant pain and discomfort caused by the heels that have gained almost ‘uniform’ status for fashion industry set.

As  demonstrated in this amazing 3D xray, heels push the foot forward, causing the toes to bend in an unnatural way.  Pressure also builds up on the soft pad under the toes, referring pain back to other structures of the foot, i.e. ankle and metatarsals.

I have explored the blight of bunions in previous blogs, these common deformities are another uncomfortable result of wearing heels.

With my podiatrist hat on, I applaud the actions of Ms Sherman and hope that others will follow where she leads.  Is now the right time to warn her of the foot arch damage potentially caused by flat shoes? Maybe another time…!

Leading UK Podiatrist and nail laser specialist, Martine Abrahams to talk at 2013 UK Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists’ annual conference

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ACC Liverpool 13 – 16th November 2013

The UK’s leading nail laser specialist, Martine Abrahams of the London Nail Laser Clinic, will be presenting at this year’s conference.  She will be showcasing the state-of-art low level Lunula Laser – the only PAINLESS, bone fide treatment on the market for treatment of nail fungal infections.  As the clinic director of a successful, growing business, part of her talk will also incorporate some business development advice.

As seen on ITV’s This Morning: http://www.lunulasuccess.com/media.aspx

Lunula Low Level Laser explained:

Until now, treatments for fungal nail infections have been rather hit and miss, with oral medication causing side effects, topical treatments unable to penetrate the nail bed and surgical options limited to complete removal of the nail.  The PinPointe Foot Laser proved a useful (but uncomfortable) remedy.  In 2012, the Rolls Royce of foot lasers launched – the ‘cold’ laser or Lunula Low Level Laser – and is now in the UK, revolutionising fungal treatments.  Not only PAIN FREE, this innovative technology tackles the underlying cause of the infection, rather than just the symptoms.

How does it work? Unlike conventional solutions, the Lunula Low Level Laser is the first treatment to tackle the root cause of nail fungus – not just the symptoms.  Known as the ‘COLD’ laser – this new device does not rely on heat to treat, instead utilises two light wavelengths, 635nm and 405nm, to tackle differing cell membranes.  The light is passed over the whole foot, which has a four-fold benefit:

  1. stimulates and improves nail bed blood supply (great news for diabetic patients)
  2. improves immune response
  3. breaks down the fungal cells walls by disturbing their oxygen content, killing spores
  4. can also improve Athlete’s Foot

BEFORE Lunula Laser:

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AFTER 8 MONTHS:

R54427 11-2012

 

As Victoria Beckham’s bunions hit headlines in UK, leading podiatrist Martine Abrahams shines a light on this painful and ugly condition

vb-bunion-oct-13As Victoria Beckham’s bunions make headlines in the UK (once more!), I thought I would explain the condition, solutions and recovery for those of you in a similar predicament.

Bunions are certainly not life threatening, but can cause a great deal of grief, pain and discomfort for sufferers.   They can be hereditary, and can often be caused by external pressure from ill-fitting shoes or regular wearing of vertiginous heels – á la Posh Spice!

A bunion is a bony lump that forms at the base of the big toe, where it attaches to the foot.  Often, the big toe deviates towards the other toes. When this occurs, the base of the big toe pushes outwards on the first metatarsal bone – which is the bone directly behind the big toe – forming a bunion.

As a bunion occurs at a joint where the toe bends during normal walking, the entire body weight rests on the bunion at each step, causing a great deal of pain. They are also vulnerable to excess pressure and friction from shoes and can lead to the additional problem of calluses and painful corns.

Diagnosis:

Bunions are usually easily recognised thanks to their classic shape, but often an X-ray will be performed to check the extent of the deformity.  A blood test might also be arranged to rule out various forms of arthritis.  A formal diagnosis enables the best course of treatment – insoles, orthopaedic shoes, medication, surgery or other treatment…

Many bunion sufferers live with their toe deformity, wearing increasingly comfortable shoes and avoiding footwear that cause severe pain.  It’s probably a good idea to consult with a podiatrist who will then refer you on to a Podiatric Surgeon if surgery is a viable option.

Treatment options:

bunion_and_xrayYou podiatrist may suggest over-the-counter pain relief, as well as medication to relieve the swelling and inflammation.  A heat pad or warm footbath may also help relieve the immediate pain and discomfort – ice packs can also help.

If your bunion isn’t persistently painful and you take action early on, changing to well made, well-fitting shoes may be all the treatment you need.  Your podiatrist may advise an orthotic device that can improve and realign the bones of your foot (i.e. bunion pads, splints, shoe inserts, bespoke insoles and uppers…)

Surgery may be recommended for some bunions, but only when symptoms are severe enough to warrant such intervention.

Surgery for a bunion, called a bunionectomy, is done in hospital usually under general anaesthesia.  The surgeon can often realign the bone behind the big toe by cutting the ligaments at the joint. For a severe bunion, you may need to have the bone cut in a technique called an osteotomy. Wires or screws may be inserted to keep the bones in line, and excess bone may be shaved off or removed. Potential complications of surgery include recurrence of the bunion, inadequate correction, overcorrection (the toe now points inwards), continued pain, and limited movement of the big toe.

Recovery:

It is suggested in the attached press clipping, that bilateral bunion correction cannot be performed – this is not the case, often sufferers choose to have both feet operated on at the same time as this obviously reduces overall ‘downtime’.  However, bunion recovery can be painful and difficult, with the patient having to rest with their feet up for several weeks whilst the bone heals.

And, bad news for Victoria Beckham, heels and shoes with tight toe space must be avoided for several months after surgery – up to a year in some cases!

Bunions are unsightly and cause a great deal of discomfort on a daily basis.  Seek advice and help from your local podiatrist, as there are many ways we can help make life easier for you – and your feet!

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Foot abuse, we’re all guilty of it BUT do you know how vital feet are to the whole body’s wellbeing? Leading UK podiatrist, the London Nail Clinic’s Martine Abrahams explains

Foot abuse, we’re all guilty of it BUT do you know how vital feet are to the whole body’s wellbeing?  Leading UK podiatrist, the London Nail Clinic’s Martine Abrahams explains

foot-absueWhat’s the big deal with feet, you might ask? Well, the body is a finely tuned organism with each component joined to the next, all keeping in close communication via the nervous system.

The most vital part of this delivery structure is the connective tissue, which acts as a type of rigging, keeping messages flowing from one part of the body to another.  These tissue groups are known as ‘meridian’ or ‘fascial’ lines. (Wikipedia.  Connective tissue: biological tissue that supports, connects, or separates different types of tissues and organs of the body.)

Interestingly, all groups of meridian lines start or end at the bottom of the foot.  Any imbalance of any of the body’s muscle groups can put the whole line out of sorts e.g., if the hamstring is tight, then symptoms might be felt in the calf, back of knees, back, neck – and, you might not realise it, but also the feet!

Any tension release along a compromised meridian line can help relieve symptoms in other parts – the domino effect. As the bottom of the foot contains a high concentration of nerve endings, it is the most straightforward area to tackle, and you don’t really need a specialist therapist to help.

ball-rolloingGently rolling a golf ball under your feet can go a long way in relieving all sorts of body wide aches and pains.

Make sure you use your own body as a guide – a pain scale from 1 – 10 can be useful, (where a score of 1 is no pain and a score of 10 is the worst pain you could describe).  Do not roll the ball to a pain level of 8 or above as this can have a negative effect on the body.

Let’s put an end to foot abuse, our feet deserve better!