>Every local drugstore has aisles of “do-it-yourself” medical fixes.  For your feet they have blister and corn pads, insoles, fungus sprays, and nail clippers.  So when you have foot and ankle problems, how do you know
when to deal with them at home using over-the-counter (OTC) products and when to see the podiatrist?

  • If you suspect that you have an ingrown nail, it is best not to use OTC products.  See your podiatrist as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of infection.  The doctor can safely remove the ingrown nail and may be able to alleviate the problem entirely for the future. 
  • OTC wart removal medication is relatively mild but can cause ulcerations if left on too long.  You can try to alleviate warts on the feet with these products, but the podiatrist has more effective medications and can also do simple procedures to rid you of warts.  Wart removers should never be used if you have neuropathy except under the supervision of a podiatric physician.
  • Despite numerous blogs and articles about treating onychomycosis (fungal nails) and warts with Vick’s VapoRub, duct tape, bleach, white vinegar, and other household items, there are no scientific data or evidenced-based research studies to support these treatment options.
  • Sprains and strains can be treated at home initially with the “RICE treatment” – rest, ice, compression, and elevation.  If swelling is persistent, a visit to the podiatrist’s office is in order to determine if there are any broken bones.  

Occasionally, home remedies can cause a new problem or make existing problems worse, so use them all in moderation.  Anyone with diabetes or a peripheral vascular disease (PVD) who has foot and ankle problems
should always opt to visit the podiatrist for even minor concerns.  People who do not have diabetes or PVD should also be wary of pain, color changes, drainage, swelling, heat, or open areas in or on any part of the  foot or ankle. These signs warrant a professional’s experience in dealing your the problem.

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