In line with our Pregnancy information night coming up, ‘The Ins and Outs of Post Natal recovery’, I wanted to write about how pregnancy can affect your feet and what Post Natal care may be required. This will be broken up into two columns, and this week will outline how pregnancy can affect you dermatologically.
Ingrown toenails (Onychocryptosis): During late pregnancy, the ability to self-manage your feet is limited by mobility. This can result in poor nail cutting techniques which can increase the risk of an ingrown toenail forming.
Treatment: Consider seeing a trained podiatrist for a ‘general treatment’ that involves nail cut, filing, clearance of debris from the side of the nails, and management of any ingrown toenails if already present.
Fungal infections (Onychomycosis): As limited self-care increases, so does the temptation to seek treatment from nail salons. These places are often not trained with a medical background nor uphold the same sterilisation standards enforced on a podiatric clinic. This increases the risk of contracting a nail fungal infection which can be very stubborn to treat.
Treatment: Ensure that wherever you present for foot treatment or management, that they uphold sterilisation procedures and avoid soaking feet in spa baths as they can never be sterile. It also isn’t a good idea to use someone else’s nail polish, or to leave nail polish on for extended periods of time. Often, we see patients who have developed nail fungal infections from leaving nail polish on for too long.
Callous & Corns (Hyperkeratosis / Helloma Durum): A lot of women experience drastic lifestyle changes post-partum, especially if a first-time mum. Often, we will go from working full time wearing enclosed footwear, to being at home and typically barefoot. This increases the pressure placed upon the bottom of our foot. The body’s natural response is to strengthen the skin to reduce tissue break down, and this is what leads to increased keratin formation that results in callous/hard skin. In conjunction with lack of emollient use (because who has time to moisturise with a new born) the callous begins to “crack”, which we call a fissure. These fissures can be extremely painful, but they also then present a portal of entry for potentially harmful bacteria.
Treatment: Pregnancy is a whirl-wind of hormonal changes and some of these changes result in dry skin that further deteriorates skin integrity. Routine emollient use on the soles of our feet is beneficial. In addition, the best way to treat any callous, corns and fissures is to have a trained podiatrist remove them with sharps debridement.