Frequent Questions on Nail & Skin Conditions

Glance through our frequent questions on skin and nail conditions. If you notice any problems with the health of your skin and nails, call Dr. Keith McSpadden, DPM at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute for a consultation and treatment.
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  • Do home remedies for warts work?

    The literature on how well home remedies for warts work—or if they work at all—is unfortunately rather mixed. We’re confident that over-the-counter medications, particularly medicated salicylic acid pads, can help in some cases, although the process is slow and doesn’t always work—it may take several weeks, and the success rate hovers around 50%.

    More novel remedies, such as using duct tape instead of medicated pads, show even less promise, though some swear by them. We’ve even heard of people using garlic or pastes made out of baking powder and castor oil.

    That said, while home remedies tend not to be very effective, most are not dangerous or harmful in any way, so unless you have any specific concerns about your skin or whether or not your problem is actually a wart, feel free to try one. If it works (or the wart gets better on its own), great! If not, you can always schedule an appointment with Dr. McSpadden for a professional solution. Visit us in Cedar Park or Round Rock, TX by dialing 512-593-2949.

  • Why are my toenails turning black?

    There could be several reasons for toenails turning black.

    The most common reason, especially among those who are regularly running, hiking, or playing sports is repetitive trauma against the toe, often from shoes that are too tight. This can cause cuts or bruises under the nail, leading to a pooling of blood that causes the distinct discoloration. Black toenails may also be caused by a fungal infection, as well.

    More rarely, a black toenail might be the result of a malignant melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. Although the odds of this being the case are very low, you should definitely investigate if you have any concerns—diagnosing and treating melanoma as early as possible is critical to achieve a good outcome, so you’ll want a professional evaluation to either rule it out or begin countermeasures quickly.

    If you have any concerns with the color or health of your toenails, please schedule an appointment with Dr. McSpadden at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute, in our Cedar Park or Round Rock offices. You can reach us online, or give us a call at 512-593-2949.

  • What are the signs of an ingrown toenail?

    It’s important to know the signs of an ingrown toenail so you can treat the problem before it gets worse.

    In the early stages, the tissue along the edges of the nail can become red, tender and painful under pressure. As the condition progresses, the nail can eventually puncture the skin and become infected. Bleeding, discharge and increased redness and swelling can occur. Don’t let it get this far!

    As soon as you notice ingrown toenail trouble, make an appointment so we can help your nail grow above the skin, not into it! Depending on how far along the problem has progressed, we will lift the nail, partially remove the offending edge or, in severe cases, remove the nail completely.

    If you have questions or would like to learn more about these treatment options, call us in Round Rock or Cedar Park, TX by dialing (512) 593-2949. In the meantime, be sure that you are trimming nails straight across without curving the corners, and that your shoes offer plenty of wiggle room for your toes.

  • What causes ingrown toenails?

    There is no one single cause of ingrown toenails. In fact, in many cases the fundamental cause may not be known. However, some of the known causes, as well as factors that might increase your risk, include:

    • Injury to the toenail, such as a stubbed toe or dropping an object on your foot
    • Wearing shoes that are too tight in the toe box
    • Poor trimming technique—don’t cut too short or curved in the corners, but leave a little length and cut straight across
    • Fungal toenail infections
    • Heredity—some people just have more naturally flat or curved nails, which can lead to higher ingrown toenail incidence rates.

    Some of these causes, like toenail trimming or footwear choices, are controllable or preventable. Some, like heredity, are not. But no matter what may have caused your ingrown toenail, Dr. Keith McSpadden can provide same-day relief via a simple in-office procedure. So don’t continue suffering—if you have a painful toenail bothering you, please set up an appointment at our Cedar Park or Round Rock offices by calling 512-593-2949.

  • Is there a proper way to trim toenails?

    Yes! Although there’s no way to perfectly prevent problems such as ingrown toenails or fungal toenails, employing proper trimming tools and techniques is the best way to keep your nails looking and feeling great.

    Before you begin, make sure your feet are clean and dry—this not only reduces the risk of spreading disease, but makes your nails softer and easier to cut. Use a large pair of clippers, too—the longer the lever, the easier it will be to cut.

    Always cut your nails straight across, and never too short. Rounded edges that are cut too close to the skin may cause the nail to grow toward the skin, leading to an ingrown toenail, infection, and/or fungal problem.

    If you’re experiencing problems with your toenails, call Keith McSPadden, DPM today. Ingrown toenails and fungal nails won’t go away on their own, but both are fixable with the right treatment. You can schedule an appointment at one of our two Austin-area locations by dialing 512-593-2949.

  • How can I treat toenail fungus?

    Toenail fungus is a legendarily stubborn little infection. Because topical antifungals can’t penetrate through the nail to get at the fungi underneath, home care is almost always ineffective.

    Following an evaluation, we will likely start you on a regiment of prescription oral antifungals for six to eight weeks. The drugs eliminate the infection, allowing health nail to grow and slowly replace the discolored portion over a period of months. Because these pills may come with side effects, we will make sure you are healthy enough to take them and check back periodically to make sure you’re doing well.

    Alternatively, particularly severe or chronic cases may be treated by removing the nail entirely, treating the infection directly, and waiting for a healthy nail to grow back.

    One thing is for sure—a case of toenail fungus will not get better on its own. If you’re looking to eliminate that embarrassing, yellow nail, call Dr. McSpadden today. To set up an appointment in Cedar Park or Round Rock, TX, give us a call at 512-593-2949.

  • What can I do to prevent foot odor?

    Foot odor is the result of bacteria on the feet breaking down sweat into odor-producing acids. Your feet sweat a lot (around a pint per day), so it’s extremely important to prevent moisture from getting trapped.

    Foot odor prevention strategies include:

    • Wear moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes that allow ventilation for feet
    • Practice good hygiene and wash your feet daily, using antibacterial soap if you have a history of foot odor
    • Alternate pairs of shoes, giving them at least a day to dry out between uses
    • Apply antifungal powder or spray in shoes overnight
    • Let feet air out while you’re at home

    If these tips aren’t enough to prevent or neutralize a case of stinky feet, give Dr. Keith McSpadden and the team at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute a call for a professional evaluation. You can schedule in Cedar Park or Round Rock, TX by calling us at (512) 593-2949.

  • Can I treat my calluses at home?

    Calluses typically can be treated at home without any intervention from a doctor; however, certain procedures may not be recommended if you have diabetes or any other condition that increases infection risk.

    Calluses are primarily caused by pressure and friction, so reducing these forces on your feet is something anyone can do. Stick to cushioned, comfortable shoes that reduces the load on your feet. You can also pick up some cushioned callus pads at the pharmacy—just be sure to stick to the ones without any salicylic acid or medication, unless we tell you otherwise.

    If you have no underlying health problems that could put you at great risk, you can carefully trim calluses using a pumice stone or emery board. Give your feet a good soak first in soap water, and be careful not to remove too much skin—you don’t want to create any cuts or open sores.

    If you have diabetes, your calluses are causing pain or coming back repeatedly, or you have other concerns, don’t take the risk of taking matters into your own hands—give North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute a call at (512) 593-2949 and let us help. 

  • What can I do to improve circulation in my feet?

    The best way to improve your circulation is simply to commit to making some good old-fashioned healthy lifestyle choices. Simply eating right and getting regular, daily exercise can have a profound effect on your health outcomes, including circulation in your legs and feet. Exercise gets your blood pumping and causes smaller blood vessels to expand, helping to compensate for larger arteries that may be clogged.

    Tobacco and alcohol use inhibits healthy blood flow. We strongly recommend you quit smoking, and drink only in moderation.

    One of the leading causes of poor circulation in America today is diabetes. Checking your glucose regularly and keeping sugar at a normal level will help you prevent or slow progression of the condition's circulatory and nerve-damaging effects.

    If you're suffering from the effects of poor circulation in your legs and feet, let Dr. Keith McSpadden at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute help. To schedule an evaluation at our Round Rock or Cedar Park offices, give us a call today at 512-593-2949.

  • Is it okay to pop my blister?

    In general, it's best to avoid popping or draining a blister. Doing so greatly increases the risk of an infection, so if you're able to leave it intact and wait it out until it goes away on its own, it's your safest option. This goes double if you have diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or other problems that affect your circulation or immune system—we strongly recommend that you never pop a blister in such circumstances.

    However, in some cases where the blsiter is especially large or painful and making it difficult to even stand or walk, carefully draining and bandaging it may be an appropriate choice, so long as you can do so safely and check regularly for infection or complications. Wash the affected area with soap and water, make a few small holes in the edge of the blister with a sterile needle to drain (leaving the "roof" intact), apply antibiotic ointment, and bandage. Replace the bandage every day, checking for signs of infection.

    If your foot blister needs medical attention, or you're worried about infection, please request an appointment with North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute by completing our online form or calling 512-593-2949.