Thanks to their high levels of activity and the moisture that can get caught in socks and shoes, your feet are especially vulnerable to becoming infected. Foot infections are a common ailment that can cause your feet to hurt and even make walking more challenging.
When you develop a foot infection, it’s important to get treatment promptly to prevent the infection from spreading and causing further complications. Thomas Rambacher, DPM, the lead podiatrist at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle in Mission Viejo, California, explains the most common type of foot infections, and what to do if you have symptoms of an infection.
Foot infection symptoms
Foot infections, regardless of the cause, tend to share common symptoms. If you’re experiencing these symptoms in your feet or ankles, make an appointment to be evaluated at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle:
- Your foot feels warm to the touch
- Your foot appears discolored, with redness, red streaks, or white patches
- Your nails, particularly your toenail, have green or yellow spots, or other signs of discoloration
- You have a fever
- Your foot is swollen
- You have fluid or pus draining from your foot
The most common foot infections
Your feet can get infected for a number of different reasons. These are some of the most common causes of foot infections.
If you have a cut, scrape, or open blister on your foot, bacteria can enter your foot. This can cause your foot to develop an infection. You might have a bacterial infection in your foot if your cut isn’t healing on its own and feels warm, swollen, or has fluid or pus.
Along with bacterial infections, you can get infections from fungus, especially in your toenails or between your toes. Most commonly, fungal infections come from walking barefoot in warm, moist communal areas, like showers, locker rooms, and pools.
Ingrown toenails occur when your nails mistakenly grow into the skin by your toe. Your ingrown toenail can get infected if bacteria enters into your skin through the small cut the ingrown toenail creates, which is usually indicated by the area having a pus discharge and appearing swollen or warm to the touch.
Diabetic ulcers and wounds can develop on your feet if you’re diabetic, especially if your condition is not currently well controlled through medication or lifestyle changes. These ulcers and wounds usually occur on the bottoms of your feet and toes and can cause serious damage to your feet and body if not carefully treated.
Having diabetes can cause you to lose sensation in your feet’s nerves, which makes it harder to notice early-stage infections, and your feet also heal more slowly with diabetes. If you have diabetes, this means it’s important to carefully check your feet regularly and let Dr. Rambacher know if you have any wounds that aren’t healing.
Treating a foot infection
You can prevent many foot infections by taking simple precautions. These include wearing sandals or shoes in communal areas, changing socks and shoes regularly, frequently washing your feet, and trimming your toenails straight across.
If you have symptoms of a foot infection, get it treated at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle right away to prevent further complications, especially if you have diabetes or are otherwise immunocompromised. After examining your feet, Dr. Rambacher prescribes a personalized course of treatment to resolve the issue.
Depending on the cause of the infection, treatment for foot infections can include antibiotics, antifungal creams or medications, applying medical dressings to the infected area, and removing part of your toenail.
To make an appointment at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle for a suspect foot infection, schedule a telemedicine or in-office consultation online or by calling our practice.