Spring is here—put away your fuzzy socks and boots for the season. Now we are ready for outdoor activities, fun in the sun and open-toed shoes. Don’t you want your feet to look and feel their best in the summer, as you head to the beach, pool and backyard barbeques?
Darren Di Iulio, DPM, a Podiatrist with St. Elizabeth Physicians offers some tips on how to put your best foot forward this summer:
- Wear appropriate shoes for your foot structure. During the spring and summer, open-toed shoes are fashionable, and they are fine as long as the shoe or sandal has the support your foot needs. If you have foot problems such as flat feet, plantar fasciitis or Achilles issues, you need to make sure your shoes have adequate support. When choosing sandals, you should make sure they have multiple straps to hold your foot in place.
- Wear proper shoes for the terrain. If you are going to be walking on uneven surfaces, planning to walk long distances or plan to be on your feet for an extended period of time, put the fashionable sandals away and choose an action sandal (multiple straps), or a good athletic shoe. Dr. Di Iulio says, “We see many ankle or foot injuries from wearing a high heel on an uneven, off-road surfaces like cobblestone or loose stone. It is important you wear the right shoe for the activity and the terrain.”
- Be cautious when barefoot. Walking with no foot protection leaves your foot susceptible to injuries such as burns and puncture wounds. This is especially important if you have diabetes or nerve damage in your feet. Walking on hot sand or pavement can cause a burn and you may not even realize it. If you cut your foot when barefoot you could then pick up bacteria which can lead to an infection.
- Keep your feet moisturized. Dr. Di Iulio says, “When you are in sandals all summer, you’re prone to flip flop foot—dry skin around the heel and bottom surface that thickens and cracks.” Having your skin exposed to the air constantly and the friction a sandal causes can be damaging to your foot. It is important to keep your foot moisturized, so a small crack doesn’t become an infected, open wound.
- Take a break from perfectly polished nails. While many would like to keep their toenails painted all summer long, it’s important you give your nails a rest from nail polish. Constant use of nail polish can damage and/or stain the nail plate and hide a fungal or bacterial infection in your nail. You want to inspect your toenails for damage, dehydration and pigment changes once a month. Take off the nail polish for at least a week and let your nails breathe. Polish your nails with safe protective polishes which don’t stain/pigment the nail plate and are inherently anti-fungal.
- Be careful at the waterpark or community pool. Public water environments can be a breeding ground for fungus, virus and bacteria. When you visit the waterpark or swimming pool, wear a water shoe or sandal in community areas such as showers and locker rooms. If you do go barefoot, bring alcohol spray or gel with you. After you get out of the water, be sure to clean the bottom of your feet and between your toes with an alcohol product. Then dry your feet and put your shoes back on to protect your foot from infection.
- Seek medical attention for injuries, cuts, or potential infections. If you notice any injuries or changes with your ankles, feet, or nail beds you should seek medical attention. If you see a podiatrist early you could avoid prolonging the effects of the injury.
If you are suffering from foot pain or get a sudden foot injury, the podiatrists at St. Elizabeth Physicians are accepting new patients. If you suffer a trauma or fracture of your foot, same-day and next-day appointments are available. To make an appointment call (800) 737-7900.