The feet, like any other part of the human body, are vulnerable to skin infections. Certain infections are common and easy to treat. While others might require professional medical diagnosis and treatment.
Skin lesions and rashes on the feet are symptoms of bacterial infections and are thus, often diagnosed as such. However, these symptoms could be attributed to other skin conditions.
Self-diagnosing the condition could aggravate the infection and the accompanying symptoms, which is why it is best to seek medical attention from a board-certified foot and ankle doctor.
First, let’s discuss bacterial infections and who might be at risk —
Although bacterial infections are not as common as fungal infections, they can manifest quickly if the skin is broken, through a wound, or via abrasions.
Certain infections can spread from one area to the rest of the body just as quickly if left untreated. Common symptoms of a bacterial infection include a redness of the skin, inflammation, pain, and a greenish or yellowish discharge/pus.
The part of the foot most prone to bacterial infections is the area surrounding the toenails and the skin beneath it.
An ingrown toenail is very often the culprit behind bacterial infections. However, conditions of the skin such as a sunburn or eczema, which can cause rashes or skin abrasions, can also lead to bacterial infections—especially if the condition is ignored.
Who Is at Risk?
- Anyone with a compromised immune system due to disease, the elderly, and those with poor blood circulation.
- Anyone with an impaired immune condition caused by immune suppressive drugs or someone undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment.
- Poor circulation of the blood is another factor in increasing the risk of bacterial infections of the feet.
Now that you know a bit more about bacterial infections and how they present on the feet, let’s talk about some other skin conditions which could cause similar symptoms —
Warts or Verruca Plantaris
Warts, which are viral-based, can either present themselves as a single and tiny lesion, or they could appear in a cluster. Commonly affecting either the side or the soles of the feet, warts are circular and usually have a hardened surface; similar to that of calluses or corns.
Often painful and uncomfortable, warts should be medically assessed since they can often hide other serious and underlying conditions like melanomas or carcinomas.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection and is characterized by a red rash which can be itchy and painful. Additional symptoms of athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, include bad smelling feet, blisters and cracks, and thick toenails.
The most common areas of the foot to be impacted by the condition are either the skin between the toes or the soles of the feet.
While chronic athlete’s foot presents itself via a scaly rash, symptoms of acute athlete’s foot include a painful and blistering red rash.
Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are caused when the skin layers become thick and hardened in response to either excessive pressure or friction.
The area of the foot which is most prone to corns and calluses include the toes, the heel area, or the area under the ball of the foot. If a corn develops over a nerve or over small blood vessels, they can bleed when shaved or cause pain.
Shoes that fit poorly, or are too tight and uncomfortable, are the most common causes for corns and calluses to develop.
Eczema is a condition characterized by red patches of the skin which can get extremely itchy and dry. Sometimes blisters can also form in the affected area. The condition is not contagious and mostly affects people prone to allergies.
The most common form of treatment for eczema includes cold compressions, as well as topical steroids and antihistamines. However, if the skin is broken or cracked and bacterial infections set in, it could lead to other complications which will need immediate medical attention.
Suitable Foot Treatment
Most bacterial infections on the feet can be prevented by taking good care of your feet. Keeping the feet clean, which includes washing your feet, keeping your toenails trimmed, and using comfortable footwear can go a long way in preventing any serious infection from developing.
It is also helpful if your feet receive exposure and are not covered up by socks 24 hours a day.
However, if you do notice any of the above-mentioned conditions, or if you notice any other unusual symptom(s), it is best to consult with a professional podiatrist as soon as possible.
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