Foot Care: Medical Pedicures
Foot Care Treatment Room Sterilization Station
Thickened and long toenails, corns and callouses are among the most common foot problems treated by podiatrists and chiropodists. Many people suffer for years, not knowing where to turn to treat their often embarrassing foot ailments. Since the feet are easily concealed in shoes, people often avoid wearing sandals or going barefooted for fear of displaying their unsightly toenails and thickenings of skin called corns when on the toes or callouses when on the bottom of the feet. Foot pain can result in a loss of mobility. This can translate into a loss of independence which can be devastating for seniors.
Many women have been to a salon for a pedicure and a fresh coat of nail polish but few have had their feet professionally examined to determine the cause of their problems and to initiate podiatry/chiropody treatments to minimize pain and improve the appearance of their feet. Men are often reluctant to have their feet tended to and suffer in silence.
A loss of flexibility can prevent seniors from being able to reach their own toenails to trim them properly. Toenails often thicken as we age and commonly available toenail clippers can become ill suited for the job. Poor vision exacerbates this problem and frequently results in cutting the delicate flesh on the toes which can lead to infections, especially in those with poor circulation and diabetes.
One of the most gratifying aspects of the profession is seeing a patient hobble into the treatment room and a few minutes later emerge pain-free after years of suffering. Simple, painless and effective toenail, corn and callous trimmings are performed by podiatrists and chiropodists using specialized medical grade instruments and gentle buffing devices.
Potential patients are often needlessly fearful of what to expect on their first visit. Thickened skin and toenails are softened using a penetrating warm solution. After thorough debridement (trimming), your foot is disinfected with an alcohol solution and moisturing cream applied to your feet, though we do not apply nail polish. Many patients actually giggle during their treatment due to ticklish feet. Patients are often amazed when their troublesome thick toenails are trimmed back to their original size and they no longer need shoes that are a size too big.
Both chiropodists and podiatrists registered in Ontario are required by their provincial regulatory body to abide by infection control standards established to protect patients. Instrumentation used is steam sterilized under high temperatures and pressure in a device called an autoclave. This kills all bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores. Disposable gloves are single use and all surfaces are routinely disinfected. A new disposable paper towel is placed under the feet of each patient. The treatment room is vacuumed after each treatment.
Corns and callouses are gently removed and sometimes pads or cushions specific to the exact type of lesion are employed to delay the rate at which they come back. Problem specific custom orthotics (custom shoe inserts made from a 3D Laser impression of the patient’s feet) using shock absorbing materials can be placed into shoes that decrease friction and reduce the rate at which callouses return.
Stylish orthopedic shoes are now available. Some models are made with fewer seems that reduce rubbing and with deeper and larger toebox areas that promote comfort and reduce hot spots and the risk of ulcer formation.
Cracked heels are especially bothersome in the summer months during flip flop season. Simple podiatric tips can prevent cracking and help seniors avoid infections which can be debilitating if not treated properly.
When it comes to our feet, it holds true that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.