As a former athlete and marathon runner, Dr. Krista Archer is a podiatrist and foot surgeon who especially enjoys treating sports-related and exercise-induced injuries. As a fashion lover, she understands the torture behind gorgeous high heels and is determined to make them wearable. And as a former pedicure lover, she is developing products to make going to the salon less worrisome and more rewarding. Above all, Dr. Archer prides herself on attention to detail as well as excellent cosmetic results, and is committed to providing pain relief and solutions to a variety of foot problems including plantar fasciitis, sports injuries, heel pain, bunions, corns, calluses, and arthritis. An Associate of the America College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (AACFAS), she is on staff at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and is currently investigating the use and efficacy of lasers for the treatment of nail fungus, warts, and heel pain. Dr. Archer also recently created and launched her own line of ARCH skin products, all of which use natural ingredients to heal and moisturize dry, cracked feet and protect nails.
Tell us a little bit about your history—how did you choose podiatry?
I was a science geek in high school where I especially loved biology and anatomy. This led to a pre-med track in college. After graduation I was a lab rat—literally working with rats and monkeys and rabbits in bone research for a major biopharmaceutical corporation. I was trained in surgical techniques and principles, learned quickly, and loved performing bone surgery. Simultaneously, I met a coworker’s husband who was training in foot and ankle surgery. While watching one of his foot surgeries, I realized that a rabbit ulna and a human metatarsal are strikingly similar. I was also surprised by the fact that the surgery I was already doing in the lab was very similar to the surgery happening in the hospital operating room. I was intrigued and I applied to Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine that same year. I moved to Philly that summer to start classes and the rest is history.
How have lasers and dermal fillers changed the way you treat foot problems?
Lasers have completely revolutionized my approach to the treatment of nail fungus. I have developed an effective protocol, which combines the use of laser therapy, topical compound medication, manual nail debridement, and shoe sterilization. Laser therapy in this protocol expedites resolution of infection, and also allows women to get back to nail polish much sooner in the treatment course. I also use laser therapy for many acute and chronic inflammatory conditions, such as neuromas and tendonitis, and to help heal strained muscles, ligaments, and fascia (i.e., plantar fasciitis). The dermal filler I use in my practice is Sculptra™ (injectable poly-L-lactic acid). The great advantage of Sculptra™ over other dermal fillers (like Juvaderm® and Restylane®) is that it induces collagen neo-synthesis. Collagen builds over time, and therefore the product can hold up best to the weight bearing forces applied while walking. This is especially useful for ball of foot pain caused by fat pad atrophy and/or prominent metatarsal heads. Where I used to perform surgery to address these problems, I now try Sculptra™ first, and in the majority of cases it solves the problem without down time.
What are the most common complaints you hear from women about their achy feet—and what causes these conditions?
Bunions are the #1 achy feet culprits. A bunion is a progressive foot deformity that worsens over time. So my typical patient is a woman in her mid to late thirties who has worn any and all types of shoes (high heels, ballet flats, wedges, etc.) since her twenties without restrictions. Now, all of sudden, her feet are killing her after a short period of time in any type of “dress” shoe, and her selection of comfortable shoes is shrinking. What I see clinically is an enlargement of the big toe joint, which is red and irritated, and a deviation of the big toe toward the 2nd toe causing crowding of the 2nd and 3rd toes, which are popped up and crooked—hammertoes. This change in shape of the toes and the joints has a genetic cause (look at your mom’s, grandmother’s, uncle’s feet), but is also aggravated by tight shoes with high heels. So what is the solution? Stop wearing heels? Never! Of course there are conservative fixes based on shoe choice (i.e., choose the 1.5″ Stuart Weitzman over the 5″ Louboutins), but not many people want to compromise. The surgical treatment remains the definitive fix, which realigns the joint and restores the width of your foot to your pre-bunion days, thus allowing you to once again wear any shoe you want.
Tell us about your cool new product line, ARCH.
When I was pregnant with my son I became extremely beauty label conscious. I didn’t want to put harmful chemicals onto my skin that could be absorbed into my body, and potentially by my uterus. I especially needed a good foot cream, and I had a hard time finding one free of petroleum, parabens, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances that, at the same time, was not a goopy, greasy ointment. I started doing my own research into natural active ingredients that harnessed the power of plants. I found a natural active ingredient from oats called beta glucan. Its hydrating, collagen producing, wound healing, and its anti-aging capabilities made it especially attractive to me. Working with a formulator, we came up with a cream that was naturally derived, used beta glucan, was free of all the bad stuff, AND had a nice smell and texture. After several rounds of sampling and tweaking, I had my Sole Savour Crème. Next up was Sole Savour Nail Oil and it followed the naturally derived, paraben free, natural active trend. This time, tea tree oil was used for its antifungal and antiseptic capabilities, along with shea butter for moisturizing, and a variety of vitamins and essential oils to nourish and protect. Most recently, Sole Savour Scrub has been added to the ARCH line. Once again, it’s naturally derived, free of parabens, and is made with extra fine pumice granules, rosehip seed powder, and a restorative blend of essential oils and natural extracts. It is a welcomed addition to the ARCH line to help you maintain beautiful feet!
Do you have any at-home tips for women to keep their feet looking pretty and healthy?
Buy a high quality foot file, and use ARCH products daily. Treat your feet as you do your face, giving them daily TLC with Sole Savour Crème, Nail Oil, and Scrub, and they won’t let you down.
How do you see the practice of podiatry changing—are there any upcoming advances in the field that you find particularly exciting?
The laser industry is always promising that exciting advancements are on the horizon, but lasers are already allowing podiatrists to treat the most common foot problems, like nail fungus and heel pain, more effectively. Advancements in surgical instrumentation and devices are exciting as they allow surgeons to cut procedure time, and allow patients to heal faster and recover quicker. However, no matter what the next trend or novelty is, meticulous surgical technique and surgeon experience will never get old.