One of the joys of summer is the freedom to give our feet a breath of fresh air. Long walks along the lake, flip flops in the park, and lots of time at the pool come with the season. But along with those summer rituals comes the hazard of unprotected feet.
Dr. Gary Kazmer and our team here at Kazmer Foot & Ankle Centers in Elgin and Barrington, Illinois, see a lot of preventable foot problems that crop up during the summer. In the colder months when you enclose your feet in full-coverage shoes, we see a lot of bunions and hammertoes, but the warmer months have their own issues. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you care for your feet in the sun and the heat.
1. Wear sandals with caution
Sandals make your feet vulnerable to all kinds of danger. For instance, twigs and sticks along your path have no barrier to stop them from poking and scratching you. For that matter, broken glass, sharp rocks, and bugs also have full access to your feet and toes.
This doesn’t mean you can’t wear open-toed footwear, but it does mean that you need to take some extra precautions, such as:
- Be aware of the terrain your walking on
- Avoid tall grass, shrubs, and brush
- Use insect repellent, and don’t forget your feet
If you plan on wearing open-toed footwear, just make sure you take a few extra steps to keep your feet safe.
It’s important to wear sunscreen on all your exposed skin every day — even when it’s overcast. But many people forget their feet when they slather or spray it on.
The angle of the sun’s rays hit the tops of your head, shoulder, knees, and toes with more intensity and for longer periods.
And, believe it or not, you can burn the bottom of your feet, too. If you’re sunbathing on your stomach, your soles are soaking up the sun. It’s a good idea to put some flip flops on to keep them protected.
If your feet do get burned, it can make wearing shoes a nightmare. Cool off the burn with cold compresses, soothing aloe vera gel, or healing soaks in oatmeal and milk. Staying hydrated also helps counter the drying effects of sunburn.
3. Beware of pedicures
When the sun comes out, we like to show off our toes, and that means pedicures. But a pretty paint job also poses some potential dangers.
Avoid the risk of infection by making sure your salon sterilizes clippers, files, and other tools in a medical-grade bactericide or fungicide, not just alcohol. Or better yet, bring your own tools.
Look for other signs of sanitation, too, like technicians sanitizing foot basins between customers, washing their hands, and being careful not to break your skin.
If you have diabetes, we don’t recommend pedicures. Instead, regularly make appointments with Dr. Kazmer to make sure your feet are checked for sores, cuts, and signs of damage.
4. Choose the right footwear
We’ve talked about the dangers of flip flops and sandals, but summer just isn’t summer without them, so choose them wisely. Look for strong arch support and cushioned heels even in your sandals.
And don’t forget the underwater hazards. If you plan to walk through a creek, river, lake, or ocean, make sure your feet are clad with shoes designed for that activity. Rocks, coral, sticks, glass, and even bacteria lurk below the surface. If you don’t have water shoes, sneakers will suffice.
5. Traveling toes
One of the downsides of traveling is that you tend to sit for long periods on a plane, in a car, or on a train or bus. This slows your circulation and allows blood to pool in your feet and ankles.
Bring along a pair of compression socks to prevent swelling, and make sure you move around as much as possible, even if that means just wiggling your toes or doing some ankle flexes.
Bonus tip: Summer sports
If you’re an athlete, you’re probably excited to get back into the swing of tennis, volleyball, golf, and other outdoor activities. These are great ways to keep your heart healthy and your weight down, but they are also a source of potential injuries.
Sprained ankles and strained muscles are common occurrences this time of year, as well as Achilles tendonitis or Morton’s neuroma, a condition sometimes caused by repetitive motions, such as in various sports activities, that thickens the tissues around the nerves in your foot.
These steps should help you keep your feet safe this summer, but if you do get hurt or have pain, come see Dr. Kazmer right away for treatment ranging from advice and physical therapy to orthotics, medication, and surgery. Call us or book an appointment online.