5 Steps to Great Summer Feet
After hiding our feet in heavy socks and boots all winter long, we can now rejoice that it is finally sandal season! But are your tootsies a little funky after a winter of neglect? Maybe they’re a bit smelly, or your skin is rough and cracked, or you may even have a case of Athlete’s foot. Podiatrist Dr. Lauren Kishman, Akron General Orthopedics (Akron, Ohio), knows the most common foot complaints and lets you in on some secrets to get your feet summer-ready:
Sweaty, smelly feet? Use antiperspirant – yes! – on your feet. “Your feet have sweat glands. As your feet sweat, proteins are released which bacteria are able to feed on, causing odor,” says Kishman. “It can be worse in the summer because of moisture and physical activity.” Change your socks often and try a clear, roll-on antiperspirant on the bottom of your feet – apply after showering and drying your feet. If an over-the-counter antiperspirant doesn’t work, there are prescription-strength antiperspirants to try – see your podiatrist.
Wear sandals around the pool. “Fungus is easy to pick up in the summer, especially around moist environments like pools or hot tubs, so make sure to keep your feet covered in those environments,” KIshman says. If you have Athlete’s foot, over-the-counter antifungal medications are generally successful. Nail fungus, though, is typically more difficult to treat and often will require prescription medication to recover completely.
Don’t leave nail polish on all summer. “The chemicals and dyes in nail polish can discolor or crack nails. People often mistake this for a fungal infection,” says Kishman. “Don’t leave polish on for extended periods of time – remove after about two weeks and give your toes a break before reapplying.” Look for polishes with fewer chemicals or even try anti-fungal polishes. If you’re not sure if it is fungus, see a podiatrist. Getting a pedicure? Dr. Kishman cautions to make sure the salon where you go sterilizes their equipment.
Apply sunscreen all over your feet. “Skin cancer can affect the feet, so if there are any suspicious or dark spots on your feet – on your skin or underneath the nails – see a doctor to get them checked out,” says Dr. Kishman. If you have cracking or dry skin, lotions with urea or ammonium lactate in them can help.
Ditch the flip-flops. In summer we often trade supportive foot gear for flip-flop-type sandals. This predisposes the foot to more stress through the arch, heel and ball of the foot, which can lead to stress fractures and heel pain,” says Dr. Kishman. Look for thicker soles and arch support – avoid very thin or very flexible. A good way to check the shoe is to see if you can bend it in half – if you can, look for something sturdier. Also, sandals with more straps tend to be more helpful – you won’t have to grip with your toes as much so there is less stress on your tendons.
Send Kishman your questions on Twitter! @MyAkronGeneral #StinkyNoMore.