After a tumultuous year of uncertainty, it looks like this summer will have a return to normalcy. Beaches are open. Theme parks are open. Airplanes are flying. More and more people are getting vaccinated and we’re starting to see masks being required less and less.
So as we transition into summer, I thought it would be helpful to review summer foot health. Here are six ways to care for your feet to get them ready for summer.
I know we live in a hot and humid climate. Don’t think the humidity is enough to moisturize your feet. Moisturizing is crucial. This is especially true in the summer months. That's when most people are wearing open shoes like sandals or flip flops. Wearing open shoes allows the dust and dirt from the ground kick up and dry your feet. You may even find your heels starting to crack.
I recommend using a good moisturizing cream. Creams are different from lotions and provide more moisture to the skin. Remember, you want the cream to rub into the skin. You don’t need to have a greasy layer of cream staying on the skin.
- Treat Your Dry Skin
Didn’t moisturize soon enough? You may end up with dry, cracked heels. The cracks are unsightly, but they also run the risk of becoming worse. A deep, cracked heel is very painful. If you’re diabetic, it’s dangerous since it can lead to infection. To treat the dry skin, use a pummous stone or pumi-bar in the shower. This will help to get rid of the dry, dead skin.
Be careful not to use a metal callus remover that resemble a cheese grater. They’re sharp and can cause damage. After you remove the dead skin, apply moisturizing cream. In the evening, after you apply cream, you can cover your foot with Saran wrap and wear socks overnight. The wrap will help to drive the moisturizer into the dry skin and heal the cracks.
- Trim Your Toenails Properly
I know you want your summer feet to look great. Whether you get pedicures or care for your own nails, it is important that it is done right. I’ve seen the results of many over-aggressive pedicurists. Sometimes they cause more problems than they solve. Be sure to instruct your pedicurist to not be so aggressive, especially if she’s trying to get out an ingrown nail. Much better you come into the office if you think you have an ingrown toenail.
The general rule for trimming your toenails is to trim them straight across. This will keep you from causing an ingrown toenail. There are exceptions to the rule, however. One exception is if your nails are particularly curved. In that case, you should consider rounding the corners of the nail. That could be an extra clip to get rid of a sharp point. You can also use an emery board to file the corners of the nail.
- Wear the Right Toenail Polish
Nail polish is damaging to the toenails. Most nail polishes have harsh chemicals, such as formaldehyde and toluene. These chemicals dry and damage the nails. This wouldn’t be so if you put on the polish and took it right off when you don’t need it anymore. In Houston, we live in a sandal climate. Because of that, most women have their nails polished throughout the entire summer.
There are some nail polishes that are healthier to use. One brand that is found in the stores is OPI. Other brands are DaniPro and Dr’s Remedy. These nail polishes do not have the harsh chemicals. Some even have vitamins to improve the health of the nail.
- Treat Your Sweaty Feet
Some people have sweatier feet than others. It’s the way it is. It usually is genetic. In my office I’ve seen droplets of sweat coming off a patient’s foot while we are talking. It’s an obvious puddle forming at the heel. Perspiration is a nuisance. It makes your feet feel uncomfortable when you soak through your socks and shoes. You are more prone to developing blisters and athlete’s foot infection. It also makes your feet and shoes smell.
Traditionally the treatment for excessive perspiration has been using powder. I find that the perspiration causes the powder to clump and there’s no real benefit. A better choice is using anti-perspirants. In the office, we have anti-perspirant wipes that last for a week. They’re great in controlling excessive perspiration. There are also prescription strength anti-perspirants. I don’t recommend them often, mostly because they contain Aluminum Chloride. It is not so healthy, especially for kids.
- Choosing the Right Sandal or Flip Flop
In a perfect world, everyone would be wearing good, supportive shoes. Sadly, my world is less than perfect. One of the challenges of living in the Houston climate is that no one wants to be wearing hot shoes that don’t breathe. That’s why so many live in sandals and flip flops. Where it comes to these shoes, there is a huge differential in the quality.
For instance, you can easily go to Walmart or Old Navy and pick up flip flops for under $5. I’m sure you realize that the quality of these shoes are terrible and provide no support to speak of. There are some flip flops that are sturdier and provide some support. These include flip flops made by Spenco and Vionic. Similarly, there are sandals that are also supportive. Look for sandals by Naot, Birkenstock, Finn Comfort, and Vionic.
If you know you are going to be doing a lot of walking, be sure to wear a more supportive shoe. These sandals may have support, but they’ll only take you so far.
You need to make sure your feet carry you wherever you want to go this summer. Following these steps should help you avoid the common pitfalls of the season. If you are experiencing any foot pain, don’t let it ruin your summer fun! Contact us at the office and we’ll get you in for an immediate appointment.