The winter is forgotten and now we’re being rewarded by long, hot and humid summer days. By now you’re breaking in your footwear and maybe wearing sandals or bare feet more often. Here is some foot care advice to keep your feet healthy, happy and injury free.
1. What You Can Do if You Have Smelly Feet
Most of us have a friend or relative who can clear a room when they kick off their shoes. And even the sweetest smelling person can do a good job stinking up a pair of shoes by running a few miles in them.
The main thing that feeds foot smell is sweat. With more than 250,000 sweat glands each, your feet are among the most perspiring parts of the body. In one day, each foot can produce more than a pint of sweat! Heat, sweat, moisture, synthetic fibres, closed footwear and hyperhidrosis can all cause smelly feet.
Tip: Keep feet clean and dry. If you wear socks, change them daily. Look for specialized synthetic sports socks, often designed for athletes. These materials are designed to wick moisture away from the skin, thus reducing sweat and odour.
Change shoes daily. Alternate between different shoes each day if possible. Give them a chance to dry out. Dust feet frequently with a foot powder (don’t forget between the toes to remove excess moisture). Choose shoes that are made of leather, canvas, mesh or other materials that let the feet breathe.
Extra Tip: You can purchase special antiperspirants for feet over the counter at many pharmacies if the above measures aren’t enough.
2. How To Prevent Fungal Infections
If you are prone to sweaty feet, you are more prone to fungal infections. In the warm, summer months, take time to expose your feet, without socks, to the air more often for short periods. Have 2 or 3 different pairs of shoes that you rotate through.
Beware of communal showers at swimming pools and gyms as foot fungus and warts can be easily acquired in these areas. If you suspect a fungal infection or a wart, contact your chiropodist, podiatrist or doctor promptly to avoid spreading it.
If you have a cut or injury affecting the skin, keep these areas covered to avoid getting an infection and check it at least every other day to make sure it is not infected.
4. What You Can Do If The Bottoms of Your Feet Are Dry
During the summer, the skin on the bottom of your feet is prone to dryness and cracking due to excessive sweating and exposure. In extreme cases, your feet can bleed or become infected.
Use a foot file or pumice stone on your heels every day in the shower or bath. Apply foot cream to soften the heels twice a day. If an over the counter cream doesn’t help, talk to your chiropodist or podiatrist about a prescription product.
5. What You Can Do If You Have Blisters
Blisters occur when feet get hot & sweaty, making socks stick to the feet. The sock and foot then rub against each other and the inside of the shoe. Fluid fills up a space between layers of skin to protect the area, like a small balloon.
Tip: In most cases, blisters heal naturally and do not require attention from a foot care specialist. The body will reabsorb the fluid, and the blister will dry and peel off. The skin that forms on top of the blisters provides a natural defence to infection.
Ideally, you should not pierce a blister with a needle and allow it to heal naturally.
You can cover a blister with an adhesive dressing or gauze. If the blister is causing you pain, then cover the area with a soft dressing and change the dressing daily. Once the blister bursts, avoid peeling the skin and cover the exposed skin with a dressing.
If a blister becomes infected, it will be very painful, swollen and possibly red. It is advisable to visit your foot specialist for a check-up. Foot care is especially important for those with increased health risks, such as diabetes and poor circulation.
Extra Tip: There are special blister cushions which can be purchased from a local pharmacy that can be used as prevention in areas that are blister prone.
6. Be Careful When Wearing Flip Flops
While flip flops are popular, fashionable and convenient to wear, they put people at risk of developing foot problems, especially when worn for long periods and consecutive days.
Flips flops don’t have the necessary support, protection or fit and the heel often slides over the edge. If worn for a prolonged period, they can cause severe arch pain or pain on the ball of the foot and even under the toes as the toes constantly claw to keep the flip-flops on the feet. Also, flip flops offer no stability for the foot, causing the foot to move while walking. As a result, blisters, or pain on the ball of the foot can develop.
Flip flops do protect the foot from the hot sand at the beach or prevent the spread of athlete’s foot or plant warts at the pool, but you’re more prone to injury because you’ve got your toes exposed. Find footwear that has a strap around the heel for a better fit and reduced likelihood of foot injury.
7. Remember to Wear Sunscreen
Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet and toes. If your feet are exposed, they will get burned, and this makes wearing closed shoes painful and difficult thus even more potential for foot injuries.
Have a safe and enjoyable summer and above all, keep your feet happy, injury free and healthy.