It doesn’t matter whether it hits 90 in April or if it’s still 50s and rainy in July – for Americans all over the country, Memorial Day weekend marks the first official days of summer (whatever the outdoor thermometer may say!). So now that we’ve stored away the jackets in the closet and fired up the grill to launch the barbecue season, it’s time to focus on the coming months of (hopefully) warm weather bliss! But to your feet, summer can mean more than a cool dip in a backyard pool or barefoot stroll over fresh-cut grass.
While summer offers unlimited distractions for the body, maintaining good foot health should not take a backseat. We’ve already talked about the ins and outs of a quality pedicure, but there’s more to summer feet than painted toes.
What’s this puddle doing in my shoes?
There are 250,000 sweat glands in your feet, so it’s no surprise that hot weather will cause even more sweating than usually. Bacteria on the skin thrive in this humid environment and may create an unpleasant smell as they go to work breaking down the sweat. Athlete’s foot also becomes a problem if you’re putting your moist feet into closed-toe shoes, as the fungus that causes this itchy, uncomfortable condition loves a dark and damp home. When taking part in strenuous activities in the heat, it is extremely important to make sure that, along with the proper athletic shoes, you are equipped with the right moisture-wicking socks to minimize sweat and potential fungal problems. Using foot powder daily will also help you deal with sweat and odor.
How do I let my feet breathe without sacrificing comfort?
Ah, to feel a sunny breeze on your toes – there’s nothing like it. But putting your feet in run-of-the-mill flip flops can wreak havoc on your body, from your heels all the way up to your lower back. Summer footwear is notorious for their lack of support. Walking for long periods of time in sandals may intensify ankle pain or plantar fasciitis. Friction from thongs or straps causes blisters and irritation. But all is not lost! There are plenty of brands available that provide stylish flip flops and sandals with the necessary stability, arch support and quality material to keep you comfortable when the weather heats up.
It’s summer – can’t I take a break from wearing shoes altogether?
While you might have been waiting all year just for the simple feeling of sand beneath your toes, walking barefoot shouldn’t be the rule of thumb all summer long. While the beach and backyard might be safe to give your soles a little freedom, avoid going shoeless in public places to minimize your exposure to nail fungus and the virus that causes plantar warts. Additionally, sidewalks and roads (concrete, asphalt, stone or otherwise) are all too successful at soaking up the sun’s heat, so you want to make sure your feet are protected at all times to avoid burns. Wearing shoes will also minimize your risk of cuts from broken debris.
Does the sun really make it all the way to my toes?
A resounding yes! Anyone who has ever suffered a sunburn on his foot can attest to how much it hurts. But if you’re not protecting your feet in the right way from the sun rays, you have more to worry about than just pain and peeling. Skin cancer is a serious risk and can occur anywhere on the feet, including under the nails and on the soles. Since many people don’t know to check for melanoma on their feet, the disease often goes undiscovered until it has progressed dangerously, and can be fatal if not treated early. To protect yourself, make sure to apply a high factor sunscreen all over your feet and toes. Your feet are in constant use and in contact with many surfaces throughout the day so remember to reapply every couple of hours. If you discover a strange patch, lesion or mole that bleeds, changes in size or color, or has an asymmetrical shape, see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
How can I make sure my daily routine in summer feet-friendly?
After months cozy and tucked away in socks and winter shoes, your feet may have become a little soft. Now that they’re back in touch with the elements, they will have to begin to toughen up a bit. As the layer of skins on your feet hardens, they tend to dry up. It’s extremely important to remember to stay hydrated and moisturize properly to avoid painful and infection-susceptible cracks, especially on your heels. If you do grow hard skin, buff it gently with a pumice stone weekly. Try to avoid putting cream in the area between the toes if you are concerned about athlete’s foot. Additionally, wash (but don’t soak) your feet daily in anti-bacterial soap to help deal with foot odor and minimize infection after summertime activities.