Frequently Asked Questions

Dr. Wettstein is happy to provide patients and visitors to the website with answers to some of your frequently asked questions about foot and ankle conditions and care. This page is updated regularly, so be sure to check back later!
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  • Is lotion good or bad for diabetic feet?

    woman spreading lotion on the bottom of her footUnsightly dry or scaly feet can be a problem for patients of all ages. Thickened or cracking skin on the heels and bottoms of your feet may be embarrassing, but it could also have long-lasting health implications for some people. Fortunately, a regular cleansing and moisturizing regimen can restore your skin to health and guard against future problems.

    Dry, Cracked Feet Can Be Deadly for Patients With Diabetes

    Patients with diabetes are not only more prone to dry skin on their feet, but they're also at higher risk of suffering wounds due to an inability to feel their feet. Diabetic neuropathy can prevent feet from sweating, which keeps the skin soft and moist. As the skin dries out, it can crack and open the body up to infection.

    Diabetes may also cause circulation problems, preventing a patient's feet from getting the blood and nutrients they need to heal. As an open wound can have life-threatening consequences, it's vital for patients to moisturize their feet regularly—and see a podiatrist immediately if they have a sore that won't heal.

    What's the Best Foot Cream for Dry and Cracked Feet?

    While any lotion is an improvement, some moisturizers are better than others at restoring softness and flexibility to the skin. Thinner lotions for the face and hands may temporarily relieve foot dryness, but thicker lotions like body creams or butters generally last longer.

    By checking the ingredients, you can generally tell which foot cream will be the most beneficial for hardened skin. Look at the label before you buy to see if the lotion contains:

    • Parabens. Some lotions contain preservatives called parabens to prevent them from spoiling. Parabens can dry out the skin more quickly, causing skin irritation or even topical rashes. Always do a "patch test" when trying out a new lotion, only applying a small amount and waiting a few hours to see if you have a reaction.
    • Moisturizing agents. Emollients (such as petroleum jelly, mineral oils, and shea butter) trap water under the skin by creating an oily layer on the surface. Humectants (such as glycerin, lecithin, and propylene glycol) moisturize by drawing water into the outer layer of the skin.
    • Scents and or alcohols. Lotions should be free of any overpowering scents, alcohols, or chemicals that can irritate or dry out the skin.
    • Active ingredients. Some lotions contain stimulating agents that can relieve the pain in neuropathic feet, such as arnica, mint, eucalyptus, or capsaicin (hot pepper oil).
    • Exfoliants. Ingredients such as urea, lanolin, and alpha hydroxy acids help the dead skin cells on the surface to fall off and reveal the healthier tissue below.

    How Often Should I Moisturize My Feet?

    It's best to apply lotion twice a day after washing your feet in warm water with mild soap—one that has similar ingredients to the lotion to avoid drying. Once your feet are completely dry between the toes, you should:

    • Apply a small amount of lotion to the tops, bottoms, and sides of your feet, allowing each layer to soak in completely.
    • Massage moisturizer into your feet using a circular motion to increase blood circulation.
    • Prevent lotion from building up between the toes, as this can promote the growth of yeast, fungus, or bacteria.
    • Put on a pair of clean cotton socks after moisturizing to prevent feet from drying out too quickly.
    • Wear hard-soled, well-fitted shoes both inside and outside the house.

    There may be many things you can do to prevent diabetic injuries and promote strong and healthy feet. Our foot and ankle specialists can perform a careful examination, recommend small changes that have big rewards, and ease the pressure on your diabetic feet. Simply request an appointment online or speak with our team in either Twin Falls or Burley by calling (208) 731-6321.

  • Will I need surgery for an ingrown toenail?

    preparing for ingrown toenail surgery

    Ingrown toenails start as minor nuisances but can develop into big problems—and for some people, they can cause life-threatening complications. The best way to avoid surgery for these nails is to stop them at the first sign of trouble.

    Early Treatments for Ingrown Toenails

    If this is the first time you’ve had an ingrown toenail and it hasn’t progressed very far into the skin,  you may be able to correct the condition before it gets worse. A few simple but effective home methods include:

    • Lifting. Lifting the nail straightens its curved edge, allowing it to grow out and away from the nail bed. Start by soaking your foot for a few minutes to soften the skin and nails. Pat your foot dry, and gently lift the ingrown away from the skin using clean dental floss. Place a clean piece of cotton under the nail to hold it in position and bandage it with a small amount of antibiotic ointment. Change the cotton and bandage every day, ensuring that your condition is improving.
    • Shoe changes. A different pair of shoes can be invaluable in treating ingrown toenails. Roomy clogs or open-toed shoes minimize pressure on the toe, while upgrading to shoes in a larger size prevents other nails from being pushed into the skin.
    • Pain relief. Soaking your feet in warm water for 10-20 minutes can help relieve pain, while over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can help reduce swelling.

    Some Patients Are More Likely to Need Toenail Surgery

    If the skin has grown over the nail, or the nail is so deep into the skin that it cannot be lifted, you should seek a podiatrist’s help immediately. The longer the condition goes untreated, the more painful and potentially dangerous it becomes.

    You may opt for surgical removal of the nail if you have:

    • Noticed signs of infection. A nail that feels tender or sore may soon start to swell, turn red, or even begin cracking open and oozing. Swift removal may be needed to prevent the infection from spreading.
    • Diabetes. Patients with diabetes may be unable to feel an ingrown toenail until it has progressed significantly, increasing the risk of systemic infection or eventual amputation. When we evaluate your affected nail, we can advise you on footwear choices and trim your remaining nails so they don’t become ingrown.
    • A history of ingrown toenails. Patients with foot deformities or irregular foot mechanics may suffer recurring ingrown toenails. Surgery can relieve the current condition, but it can also stop nails from growing inward in the future.

    Will I Have to Go to the Hospital to Have a Toenail Removed?

    Our investment in the latest technology means that you won’t have to endure a long and frightening procedure under general anesthesia. Dr. Wettstein performs the entire process right in our office using a local anesthetic, so you’ll be awake the whole time and able to walk out the door in about an hour.

    Toenail removal surgery may involve:

    • Numbing the affected area for 2-4 hours
    • Extracting the ingrown portion of the nail
    • Cleaning the wound and treating any infection with antibiotics
    • Removal of the nail matrix along the edge of the toenail to prevent the nail from growing unnaturally in the future
    • Bandaging the foot to protect it from trauma as it heals
    • Resting the foot for 24 hours after the procedure
    • Allowing the foot to fully recover over the next two or three weeks (you will likely be able to resume normal activities within a day or two of surgery)

    The easiest and most effective way to know what your condition requires is to consult with an experienced podiatrist. Our foot and ankle specialists can examine your feet carefully and devise a plan of action that works for you. Simply request an appointment online or speak with our team in either Twin Falls or Burley by calling (208) 731-6321.