As of late, Quebecers now have access to new prescriptions from podiatrists in order to relieve their foot pain effectively.
Podiatrists can actually prescribe almost all the medications necessary to practice podiatry. So you no longer have to check with your doctor, dermatologist, or pharmacist to benefit from custom-tailored solutions at a podiatry clinic.
After all, who knows your podiatric needs better than a podiatrist?
These new prescriptions can help:
- Treat your skin;
- Treat foot infections;
- Treat your toenails.
Read on to learn 4 types of prescriptions that the podiatrist can now offer you during your appointment.
1. Topical antifungal medication
Antifungals, also known as fungicides, are a type of medication used to treat yeast infections – which are caused by fungi.
These drugs can be applied topically (directly to the skin) or taken orally (by swallowing a tablet). In either case, antifungals are used in podiatry to treat nail fungus or athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), for example. However, the two have different contexts in which they are used.
Podiatrists normally prescribe a topical antifungal in cases where the yeast infection is minimal. These topical medications can be sold as:
This treatment lasts 2 to 4 weeks and generally cures more than 70% of all cases. Be careful, however: to achieve optimal results, very good foot hygiene is essential throughout the treatment. Make sure to keep your feet dry, as moisture facilitates the development of fungus on the skin and the toenails.
If the problem proves to be recurrent or your podiatrist determines that your nail fungus is particularly resistant, you may require a prescription of oral antifungals in order to fully eliminate the infection of the skin or nails.
2. Oral antifungal medication
Only dermatologists or primary care physicians used to have the right to prescribe oral antifungals in the past. Recently, however, the podiatrist has also become part of this professional group. The podiatrist has the expertise and now the right to determine whether you can take this type of medication, which is usually prescribed for a period of 12 weeks, depending on the case.
As mentioned above, this medication is used by podiatrists in special cases when the nail or skin infection is particularly problematic. Especially, it’s relevant in situations where nail fungus affects a person with diabetes, who tends to be more susceptible to complications that result from this type of infection.
These medications can be taken to treat all types of onychomycosis, such as:
- Distal subungual onychomycosis: The most common yeast infection, this type of onychomycosis turns the nails thick and yellowish, leading to the nail’s separation from the skin. Topical treatments are usually the first resort for this condition.
- Proximal subungual onychomycosis: Less common, this case involves the infection taking the form of white patchy lesions under the nail. This yeast infection requires oral treatment instead.
- Superficial white onychomycosis: It manifests as small white and yellowish spots on the dorsal surface of the nail. Over time, the surface may become rough and softer than normal. It is relatively easy to treat with topical application and rarely requires oral treatment.
- Total onychomycosis: This condition affects the entire nail plate as well as the root of the nail. The only treatment to stop this infection is an oral antifungal medication.
On top of that, oral treatments are also often used to treat nail fungus that is found at the nail’s root.
Keep in mind, however, that oral antifungals are not always recommended and can sometimes result in side effects that require a podiatrist’s follow-up treatment. Your podiatrist will be able to tell you what you need to do to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment. Of course, your pharmacist or dermatologist are also invaluable resources that you can consult, depending on your case.
The podiatrist now has the right to prescribe a variety of oral antifungals, such as Lamisil and Sporanox. These antifungals, however, can potentially harm the liver under certain circumstances. As such, it is necessary to carry out blood tests before treatment and 4 to 6 weeks after its beginning, to monitor whether your body can handle this type of medication.
3. Blood tests
Another new addition to the podiatrist’s prescriptions is blood tests. In fact, your podiatrist may now require blood tests to ensure proper monitoring of podiatric treatment and the condition of their patients.
It is most convenient for the podiatrist to be able to prescribe this type of analysis without going through a generalist, as blood tests are an effective way to get a clear picture of the patient’s situation, thus allowing the podiatrist to carry out the most adequate treatment or prescribe a medication that is well adapted to the patient’s situation.
In fact, a blood test could indicate to the podiatrist, for example, that a patient’s kidney function is impaired, which would allow them to properly dose the patient’s use of an antibiotic for a foot infection. It could also show that the function of a patient’s kidneys does not permit the use of oral antifungals.
4. Oral antibiotics
Last but not least, the podiatrist may also prescribe oral antibiotics which serve to treat a localized infection in the foot.
For example, in some problematic cases of ingrown toenails (onychocryptosis), the podiatrist may prescribe oral antibiotics after removing the nail to control the infection. As such, these antibiotics will mitigate certain complications that may lead to hospitalization or the need for intravenous antibiotics.
Just like antifungal medication, antibiotics have an anti-infective purpose, however, they are relevant in cases where the doctor must control a bacteria rather than a fungus. Therefore, oral or topical antibiotics may be prescribed for treatment of:
- Abscesses of the foot;
- Bacterial cellulitis of the foot;
- Foot lesions.
With the podiatrist’s new prescription rights, the oral antibiotic will be prescribed based on criteria such as:
- The sensitivity of the patient’s body;
- The dosage of the drug;
- The patient’s medical history (kidney failure, liver failure, diabetes, etc.);
- Possible side effects;
- How often the medication should be taken.
Your podiatrist can prescribe any oral antibiotics necessary for the treatment of foot infections that they can oversee.
Your pharmacist can also be a great help and often complements the podiatrist’s work, for example, by recommending the best dosage for your oral antibiotic.
Other prescriptions from the podiatrist you can rely on
The podiatrist’s arsenal now includes topical and oral antifungals, blood tests, and oral antibiotics to properly treat you.
Additionally, they have access to other treatments or prescriptions like:
- Custom-made foot orthoses;
- Cortisone injection;
- Ultrasound-guided injection;
- Fitted shoes;
- Topical antibiotics;
- Manual foot therapy;
- Ultrasound examination of the foot;
- Digital radiography of the foot;
- Biomechanical exam of the foot;
- Shock wave therapy;
- The therapeutic laser;
- Therapeutic foot taping;
- Postural assessment.
There is no doubt that the new prescribing options make the podiatrist an even more comprehensive and versatile professional for the treatment of your pathologies of the feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips and lower back.
On top of that, all the hours of continuing education that podiatrists complete each year at the Ordre des podiatres du Québec, allow them to continue finding new solutions to better treat your foot problems. The progress doesn’t stop!
Contact a podiatrist today to enjoy the best solution for your problem.