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Podiatrist vs. Podologist — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Fiza Rafique — Updated on September 8, 2023
A podiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating foot, ankle, and lower limb disorders. A podologist is not a medical doctor but focuses on foot care, often dealing with skin care, nail issues, and foot hygiene.
Podiatrist vs. Podologist — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Podiatrist and Podologist


Key Differences

A podiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized training in the care and treatment of the feet, ankles, and lower extremities. They can diagnose and treat medical conditions, perform surgeries, and prescribe medication. In contrast, a podologist is not a licensed medical doctor. They focus on the non-medical aspects of foot care, often concentrating on skin and nail conditions as well as general foot health.
In terms of educational requirements, podiatrists are required to complete a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree, which involves rigorous medical training. On the other hand, podologists usually complete a specialized training program focused on foot care, but this program does not grant a medical degree. The level of training for a podiatrist is generally more extensive than that for a podologist.
Both podiatrists and podologists are professionals in foot care, but their scopes of practice are notably different. A podiatrist is authorized to perform surgery and prescribe medication for medical conditions affecting the foot and lower limb. A podologist cannot perform surgery or prescribe medication but may offer non-medical treatments like foot massages, nail care, or callus removal.
While both terms are concerned with foot health, they are not used interchangeably. For medical issues involving the foot, a podiatrist is the appropriate healthcare professional to consult. For basic foot care and hygiene, such as toenail cutting or treating minor skin conditions, a podologist would be suitable.

Comparison Chart

Type of Practitioner

Medical Doctor
Non-medical foot care specialist

Educational Requirements

Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree
Specialized training in foot care

Scope of Practice

Medical treatment, surgery, prescriptions
Skin and nail care, foot hygiene

Professional Recognition

Licensed and regulated
Not a licensed medical profession

Common Treatments

Diagnosing medical conditions, surgeries
Foot massages, nail care, callus removal

Compare with Definitions


A medical doctor specializing in foot and ankle care.
I went to the podiatrist for my ankle sprain.


An expert in non-medical foot care.
The podologist recommended a specific type of insole.


An expert in diagnosing foot conditions.
The podiatrist diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis.


A foot care specialist focusing on skin and nails.
I saw a podologist for my toenail fungus.


A healthcare professional licensed to perform foot surgery.
The podiatrist successfully removed my bunion.


A practitioner of foot hygiene.
The podologist helped me with callus removal.


A doctor who can prescribe medication for foot problems.
The podiatrist prescribed me anti-inflammatory medicine.


A specialist in foot cosmetics.
The podologist offered a therapeutic foot massage.


A medical specialist in lower limb issues.
The podiatrist helped me with my knee alignment.


An advisor on general foot health.
The podologist gave me tips on proper foot hygiene.


A podiatrist (/poʊˈdaɪətrɪst/ poh-dye-eh-trist) or podiatric physician is a medical professional devoted to the treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. The term originated in North America but has now become the accepted term in the English-speaking world for all practitioners of podiatric medicine.


The branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the human foot. Also called chiropody.


(medicine) A health care practitioner who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of foot ailments.
I visited my podiatrist to get a new pair of orthopedic inserts for my sneakers.


A specialist in care for the feet

Common Curiosities

Can a Podologist perform surgery?

No, podologists cannot perform surgery.

What is a Podiatrist?

A podiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in foot, ankle, and lower limb care.

What is a Podologist?

A podologist is a non-medical foot care specialist focusing on skin, nails, and hygiene.

What does a Podiatrist treat?

Medical conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and lower limbs.

Can a Podiatrist prescribe medication?

Yes, they can prescribe medication.

Is a Podologist a licensed profession?

It is not a licensed medical profession but may require certification.

Should I see a Podologist for toenail fungus?

A podologist can offer non-medical treatments for minor toenail issues.

What does a Podologist treat?

Skin and nail issues, and provides general foot care.

Can a Podiatrist perform surgery?

Yes, podiatrists are licensed to perform surgery.

Do you need a medical degree to be a Podiatrist?

Yes, a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree is required.

Do you need a medical degree to be a Podologist?

No, a medical degree is not required.

Should I see a Podiatrist for toenail fungus?

Yes, a podiatrist can offer medical treatments for toenail fungus.

Can a Podologist prescribe medication?

No, they cannot prescribe medication.

Is a Podiatrist a licensed profession?

Yes, it is a licensed and regulated medical profession.

Are the terms interchangeable?

No, they refer to professionals with different scopes of practice and training.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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