Summer is the time for ice cream, lawn sprinklers, family barbecues … and foot care?
That’s right! If you’re like most people this time of year, you want to put those restrictive boots in the deepest recesses of your closet and break out the sandals, flip flops and peep toes. But that doesn’t just mean you’ll be putting those feet on full display for the world to see. You’ll also be exposing them to direct sunlight, which can cause sunburn as well as premature aging of the skin – and may even increase your risk of getting melanoma.
Don’t let your summertime shoes give you the summertime blues. Follow our summer foot care and health tips and keep those precious tootsies happy!
Since we just raised the prospect of cancer, let’s begin with the most important summer foot care tip: Apply sunscreen to your feet, and reapply it after you have gone in the water. Many people overlook this, but the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons advises wearing sunscreen from head to toe before spending any extended amount of time in the sun. The college also advises checking your feet regularly for abnormal moles and freckles – even on your soles and beneath your toenails – and to show any suspect marks to your foot and ankle specialist.
Avoid Going Barefoot
We would never advise wearing shoes at all times. Frolicking down the beach wearing Doc Martens is about as fun as it sounds. But limit the amount of time you spend barefoot, as going unshod increases your risk of sunburn as well as contracting athlete’s foot, plantar warts, and even ringworm. You especially want to wear appropriate footwear around the pool, as that can help prevent injury and infection.
This is good advice regardless of the season. Exfoliation prevents the formation of unattractive calluses, keeps pores unclogged, and leaves the skin on your feet looking fresh and more youthful. Exfoliation also doubles as a nice little foot massage, which can be all an aching pair of feet needs to feel good again. It is easy to exfoliate your feet with the aid of a pumice stone or a scrub made from Epsom salt – or, if you have delicate skin, sugar, which doesn’t dehydrate skin like a salt-based scrub might.
This is also timeless advice, although you may wish to moisturize more than once daily during the summertime as you spend more time walking around outside. Skin functions best when its outermost layer retains moisture, for this protective layer can help to prevent damage caused by the elements. Your heels will especially benefit from regular moisturizing, as their thicker skin is less inclined to retain moisture effectively. Interestingly, however, you do not want to moisturize your toes or the areas between them. Those areas are naturally prone to retaining moisture which can breed fungi and bacteria!
Stay Hydrated and Properly Nourished
Your feet and hands may swell if you spend a long time in the heat. This phenomenon is called heat edema, and it occurs more commonly in people who live in cold climates while they are visiting warmer places. Any Minnesotan who spends a sizeable part of their year in Florida or Arizona should take note. Staying hydrated is great for your overall health, and it additionally helps to prevent blood vessel dilation which can cause heat edema!
The foods you eat can impact the health of your feet as well. People whose diets are high in salt have a greater chance of experiencing swollen feet. Sugar can increase the risk of swollen feet too, so it is wise to avoid salty and sweet foods while you’re out enjoying the sun. (But don’t deny yourself a little ice cream.)
Even with the greatest care, some foot conditions are unavoidable. If you have noticed a new or changing mole or freckle on one of your feet, are experiencing difficulty keeping your feet properly moisturized, or are suffering from swollen feet this summer, then we welcome you to reach out to Dr. Sperling, Dr. Felton and the rest of the Twin Cities Foot & Ankle Clinic team and schedule a consultation at our Golden Valley or our Woodbury location. Great foot health is important to us all year round!