8 tips for better summer foot care
With summer approaching, we thought that it’s important to point out a few foot care thoughts:
- Barefoot Walking? Try to limit walking barefoot as it exposes feet to sunburn, as well as plantar warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other infections and also increases risk of injury to your feet.Wear shoes or flip-flops around the pool, to the beach, in the locker room and even on the carpeting or in the bathroom of your hotel room to prevent injuries and limit the likelihood of contracting any bacterial infections.
- Sunburn feet? Remember to apply sunscreen all over your feet, especially the tops and fronts of ankles, and don’t forget to reapply after you’ve been in the water.
- Swollen feet? Avoid salty foods and get lots of exercise to increase blood flow. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This will not only help with overall health, but will also minimize any foot swelling caused by the heat. Also, a cold foot soak at the end of the day never hurts.
- Sweaty feet? Beware of sweaty feet. Don’t wear the same shoes as yesterday and make sure your shoes are dry. Wear sock that wick away sweat. Antiperspirants — the same ones that work on underarms work on your feet. If you have a problem with sweaty feet, there are products that your doctor can prescribe. Finally, if nothing else works Botox injections can decrease sweating for many months. Remember, sweaty feet can lead to Athletes foot.
- Corns and blisters? All that sweating, swelling, and sunburn can lead to other foot health issues, such as corns and blisters. The best way to prevent these from occurring in the first place is to wear supportive shoes and socks whenever you are active. If they do develop, try putting blister pads over the blisters and unmedicated donut pads over the corns. If your problems persist see a doctor or podiatrist.
- Athletes foot? Sweaty feet can lead to Athletes foot, which is more of a problem in summer than winter. Try to keep your feet dry as much as possible and wear pool or shower shoes as much as possible. Apply sweat absorbing foot powder as needed, and choose socks that wick moisture away from the feet. If you do get an infection, try an over-the-counter remedy. One of the most effective treatments for athlete’s foot on the market right now is Loprox 0.77 percent cream if you have dry skin or the gel formula if you have sweaty feet. Stick to a thin layer of medication between the toes.
- Correct footwear. Some activities at the beach, lake or river may require different types of footwear to be worn. To be safe, always pack an extra pair of sneakers or protective water shoes. If your shoes get wet, they should be dried out completely before you wear them next to prevent bacteria or fungus from growing.
- Be prepared. In case of minor foot problems, be prepared:
- Flip flops – for the pool, spa and hotel room
- Sterile bandages – for covering minor cuts and scrapes
- Antibiotic cream – to treat any skin injury
- Emollient-enriched cream – to hydrate feet
- Blister pads or moleskin – to protect against blisters
- Motrin or Advil (anti-inflammatory) – to ease tired, swollen feet
- Toenail clippers – to keep toenails trimmed
- Emery board – to smooth rough edges or broken nails
- Pumice stone – to soften callused skin
- Sunscreen – to protect against the scorching sun
- Aloe vera or Silvadene cream – to relieve sunburns
- Keep blood flowing with periodic ankle flexes, toe wiggles, and calf stretches.
Janet D. Pearl, MD, MSc is the Medical Director of The Center for Morton’s Neuroma and Complete Spine and Pain Care, an interventional and integrated Pain Management program located in Framingham, Massachusetts. Previously, Dr. Pearl was the Co-Director of the Pain Management Center at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, where she was also the Director of the Fellowship program. She is the former Director of a satellite pain center of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Pain Management Center, located at the HealthSouth Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital. Dr. Pearl held academic appointments at Harvard Medical School and Tufts Medical School. She serves on the Health Care Services Board of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents since 2000 as one of its physician representatives and is Chair of the Committee on Pain Management.