Summer Foot CareLast updated: Jul 16, 2015
Going barefoot, wearing flip flops and slipping into strappy sandals may feel great in the summertime, but is summer footwear actually good for your feet?
Not necessarily says Marco Ucciferri, D.P.M, a podiatrist at Summit Medical Group.
“In summer, a lot of patients come to the office complaining of foot fatigue and foot strain along the arch,” Ucciferri says. “Flip flops and sandals puts a lot of pressure on feet, ankles and legs. Women are especially at risk of straining their feet because they were open-back shoes,” he says. The bottom line: Walking barefoot creates tremendous stress on joints and feet.
Open shoes may also lead to dry and cracked heels, which are caused not only by heat but also by the pressure that summer shoes can place on the back of the foot because there is little to no support in the back of the heel. Dryness from the weather can even cause fissures in skin, which can be quite painful.
“I explain to patients when they have dry skin on heels the balls of their feet that the best thing I found over the years is that using something like a petroleum jelly under occlusion,” said Ucciferri. “This means basically putting either Vaseline or something equally emollient on the skin and applying a plastic wrap over it to really penetrate and create moisture to the skin, which helps to heal and get rid of the fissuring and the dryness of the skin.”
While feet may suffer from dryness, they can also become too sweaty, which introduces its own set of problems, including fungal infections. Ucciferri recommends spraying feet with antiperspirants to reduce the amount of moisture in the shoe and to wear natural fiber socks that “breathe” and also wick moisture away from the skin. One way to prevent extremes of dryness and sweatiness is to interchange types of shoes so that feet can alternately get the arch support they need while also having a change to dry off in fresh air.
And don’t forget to spray your feet with sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
Summer sports and foot care
Summer sports like hiking, tennis and even baseball can put excessive pressure on the bottoms and backs of feet and cause blisters.
“With blisters you have to be careful because they can become infected,” Ucciferri said. He warned that at both public pools and at the beach infections are more likely from raw blisters as well as cuts and abrasions on the feet. “Don’t take the blister off. Drain it with a sterile needle and cover it with a dressing. This will help it hurt less and also keep it clean,” Ucciferri says.
He tells patients to wear water sandals at the pool or beach to protect from injury and fungus.
Ucciferri has two rules when it comes to pedicures: Know the place you are going to. Bring own tools.
“Just make sure you know the place that you’re going to is reputable,” he says. “I also tell patients not to overdo pedicures and get them about once a month. Another issue with pedicures is that they often use pumice stones or salt rubs to exfoliate the feet. This may feel good but it can cause abrasions, which lead to infection—especially is the parlor is less than clean.”
Summer is fun, but at the end of a day of recreating feet can become tired and swollen and need to be tended to.
“Your feet support you all day in hot and humid weather,” says Ufficerri, “so give your feet a break!”