Most people look forward to the summer but some are in distress and ashamed of how their feet look. This time of year, most people transition to sandals and flip-flops or go barefoot. In our society however, most people have a perfect body image of themselves that begins at their head and extends down to their toes.
In 2008, the American Podiatric Medical Association retained Kelton Research to survey 500 women about their feet. Fifty-seven percent of them were embarrassed by the way their feet looked. Kelton Research referred to it as “The Embarrassing Epidemic” and claimed that foot shame affected 84 percent of all women across the country. A quick review of social media confirms this feeling remains strong in 2015. There are numerous “feet hate” groups on Facebook. The largest site had more than 30,000 likes. There are also a few “feet lover” groups on Facebook. The largest site had 21,000 likes.
In my practice, approximately half of the female patients are embarrassed about the way their feet look. Forty percent of males share the same concerns.
Most of these patients have nail dystrophy (poor nail formation) that is usually caused by a fungal infection in the nail bed or nail, trauma, or skin disease such as psoriasis. Nails are typically brittle, flaky, split, discolored, painful and unsightly. Nail dystrophy is not a welcome condition because the nail appearance is unattractive and the condition is difficult to manage.
The good news is major innovations have been introduced into podiatry within the past decade to address these problems. These include laser treatment, new nail restoration processes and shoe sanitizers.
Laser technology effectively kills toenail fungus, 70 to 80 percent of the time, and treatments are relatively pain-free and simple. An exam is given by a podiatrist to confirm the presence of the fungus. Nails are trimmed and debrided prior to treatment. Three treatments are scheduled within a 30- to 45-day intervals and evaluated by the podiatrist over a year to ensure the fungus is killed and to assess new nail growth. New healthy nails typically clear within six to nine months.
A new Keryflex nail restoration process is commonly used in conjunction with laser treatment to restore nails to their natural looking appearance. The treatment is also done for a wide range of nail dystrophies. The KeryFlex nail restoration system uses polymer resins and special activators that bond to damaged toenails to create a durable, yet flexible, natural-looking nail when exposed to a certain frequency of ultraviolet light. The procedure takes around 15 to 30 minutes. Most of the damaged nail is removed and a bonding agent is applied to the nail. A resin, which has a gel-like consistency, is applied to the nail bed. Then, a special ultraviolet light is used to harden the resin. This procedure is repeated to create a natural-looking appearance in place of the damaged nail. The KeryFlex gel is available in three colors: opaque, clear and natural. If the treatment is done in conjunction with laser treatment, patients no longer have to wait for six to nine months for new nails to emerge. Patients literally walk out of the clinic with new natural looking nails. Treatments are scheduled every 30 to 45 days until the new nails emerge.
Special shoe sanitizers are used as an added safeguard to kill fungus, bacteria and odors in shoes. Other antifungal crèmes and lacquers may be recommended for use as well.
The Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois/Illinois Laser Center is the first podiatry clinic in Decatur and Springfield to offer this premium treatment protocol. To learn more about these exciting new innovations visit myfootandanklecenter.com. The website provides short videos of laser and Keryflex treatments; and before and after photos. The Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois/Illinois Laser Center is located at St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur, IL and at 2921 Montvale Drive, Springfield, IL. Call (217) 787-2700 to schedule an appointment.