Whether you’re planning a day trip to sunbathe at Bayshore or have more exotic vacation plans closer to the Equator, you know how important it is to have the right items on you for the best experience. Swimsuit? Sunscreen? That novel you’ve been saving to read on a blanket upon the sands of your choice?
But are your feet part of your summer preparation checklist? Are you equipped with the right footwear? Guarding against the sometimes-risky conditions of the season’s favorite locales? Is that sunscreen going everywhere it should go?
It can be quite easy to neglect you and your family’s feet during the summer months. We don’t really think about them that often during other seasons since we usually have them concealed away in shoes or—ugh—winter boots. But the fact they are more exposed during the summer means a little extra attention to them can go a long way toward preventing certain problems from raining on your parade.
Here are a few summer foot care tips to pack away during these hottest and wildest of months.
Sunscreen is often thought of for the face, neck, shoulders, arms… but not so often the feet. You can probably chalk it up to a mix of hiding feet in shoes or just being the farthest thing from our hands to reach, but the fact is that the skin on your feet is just as vulnerable as the rest of your body!
Getting sunburns on your feet doesn’t just make wearing socks and shoes an ordeal for the next couple days; it also increases risks of cancer as it does anywhere else on your skin. We’re not telling you to fear the sun, but taking easy steps to protect yourself can go a long way.
Applying sunscreen to your feet is not that much different from applying it elsewhere, although there are a couple of suggestions.
First, if you are going barefoot on the beach, make sure to apply the sunscreen both atop and along the bottoms of your feet. The undersides may get more sun exposure than you expect.
Second, even though you’re looking for full coverage in general, don’t slather lotion between your toes. It’s easy for moisture to become trapped in those little valleys between them, and organisms such as fungus can really appreciate that.
And as a general sunscreen usage rule? Don’t wait to apply sunscreen right before you go out into the sun (we see you in the parking lot)! It takes about 30 minutes for the active ingredients to bond with your skin, so you’re actually going out with less than full protection if you’re waiting until right when you’re outside. Apply at least 30 minutes before you’re in the sun, and reapply during the day as directed on the bottle.
They’re not for your shower, but rather public showers—and other places where a lot of bare feet and wetness abound!
Fungus—the kinds that cause crumbly toenails and athlete’s foot—thrives in areas that are warm, wet, and a bit out of the sun. This places locker rooms, public shower rooms, and areas around public pools at higher risk of picking up a nasty organism.
Having a pair of shower shoes will provide you full, surrounding protection for your feet against fungus. Aqua socks are also a good suggestion. Flip flops are not as protective and tend to slip off easily, but they’re better than nothing.
This is a staple of general summer health, but does it really have much to do with your feet? Yes, it does!
While it might sound counter-intuitive, feet and ankles tend to swell in the heat as we dehydrate because of fluid pools in these areas. Keeping a steady and healthy intake of water increases the mobility of water throughout our body, helping to keep excess fluid from building up where it isn’t wanted.
Feet that are exposed to the open air and not in socks will tend to lose more moisture over the summer, leading to dry patches, itchiness, and sometimes even painful cracks. If this is a problem your feet seem vulnerable to, keep up the internal hydration but also work on some external moisturizing.
Good times to moisturize are after a shower in the morning and at night before bed. Just as with sunscreen, keep moisturizer out from between your toes to help avoid unwelcome problems in that area.
Flip-flops are fun and easy for very short jaunts. If you want to wear them around the pool or walking from the car to the beach, that can be fine.
But if you plan on using flip-flops throughout the day, think again. This skimpy footwear provides next to no support for your feet and can leave your arches and heels aching by the end of the day. In many cases, your toes can be involuntarily clenching against your flip-flops to hold on for the ride, and that can also lead to trouble.
A better alternative to flip-flops is sandals with molded arch support and comfortable straps. Leather (or a substitute) tends to be a nice, breathable, and comfortable strap material, but find one that feels best for you. Make sure you spend some time in a new pair of sandals before taking them out on a day trip to ensure they will not cause you any blisters or other discomforts. You don’t want to be caught out and about only to realize your footwear is causing you pain!
There are plenty of easy ways to ensure your feet and ankles don’t befall any summer-based woes, but if you have any problems that are already causing you trouble, don’t let them rain on your (Independence Day) parade!
Our practice is here to help people find relief from foot and ankle pain, nail and skin conditions, and other podiatric problems. Give us a call at either of our three area locations to schedule an appointment:
Let us help you with foot and ankle woes and get you on track to a great summer!