Skin Problems: Breaching Your First Defense

Buildings have walls to protect everything inside them from the environment. Old world castles had extra walls surrounding all their buildings to protect everyone inside them from attacking invaders. As long as walls are kept intact, they are able to do their job keeping those “outside forces” where they belong—outside. Your body has its own wall: your skin. It provides a distinct barrier between the inside of your body and the outside. Skin problems, however, compromise this boundary.

Don’t Take Skin for Granted

Your skin covers every surface of your body, including your lower limbs. It’s there to protect your feet from the dirt, grime, germs, and little stones or other objects that could damage your foot structures. Generally your skin is an effective first line of defense. However, it’s not invulnerable. Injuries, infections, and the general wear-and-tear of walking can damage this important barrier. These skin problems are often uncomfortable in their own right, but they also can put you at risk for more serious issues.

Common Conditions

Here are just a few of the conditions that can affect the skin on the surface of your feet and ankles:

Allergies – Touching substances that you are allergic to can cause a significant skin reaction called contact dermatitis. Your feet can react as well. Certain glues and chemicals in shoes may cause rashes.

Athlete’s Foot – This is a microscopic fungus that thrives on the surface of warm, moist feet. It breaks down the skin and causes unpleasant itching and peeling.

Blisters – Friction and pressure can cause the top layers of skin to separate from lower layers. Fluid fills this area to protect the sensitive skin under the sore. This creates a painful spot that hurts to touch.

Calluses – Friction over a period of time can also cause the skin to build up extra layers for protection. This creates a hard, flat area called a callus. This lesion may press into the flesh on the feet and cause discomfort. Typically these develop on your soles.

Corns – Similar to calluses, corns are a build-up of skin layers in response to steady friction. These, however, are conical and raised in shape and tend to appear on toes or the top of the foot.

Psoriasis – This is an autoimmune disease that causes patches of cells to periodically multiply and build up rapidly on the surface of the feet. This forms thick, silvery plaques that can itch and hurt.

Ulcers – A major concern for diabetic feet, this is a breakdown of the skin, creating an open sore. These sores are slow-healing, uncomfortable, and may allow dangerous infections into your body.

Warts – A virus in the skin causes these benign growths to develop. Generally unsightly, they can also be uncomfortable if pressed on, so warts under your soles may be fairly painful.

There are many other skin problems that affect the lower limbs, such as frostbite, gangrene, lesions, fungus, and cysts. Issues like burning feet, foot odor, and swelling can also be classified as skin-related issues. Dr. Victoria Melhuish is able to help manage and eliminate any of these conditions, so your feet are restored to their normal, healthy state.

Don’t take your skin for granted. You need it to stay intact to protect you—especially on your lower limbs. If you notice any unusual changes on the surface of your feet, or are struggling with discomfort in any way, contact our team at Sierra Foot & Ankle to take care of it. You can submit a request through our website or call (775) 783-8037 to reach us for an appointment.