So, the clocks have gone forward, the evenings are getting longer and we are all turning our attention to the prospect however remote of some welcome sun. We look forward with a large degree of scepticism that within a few weeks we can start to dust off those sandals and open toe shoes. For most of us it’s a time when our thoughts turn to our feet. Our podiatrists always see an increase in foot problems such as athlete’s foot, cracked heels and hard skin (often due to wearing inappropriate sandals). There are a number of very simple tips which can assist help as we prepare our feet for the much anticipated hot summer. If you are able to cut your own nails then always use a proper nail clippers and cut straight across, not too short, and not down at the corners as this can lead to ingrown nails. File them, if that’s easier. If possible go barefoot or wear open-toed sandals whenever you can especially in hot weather (except when you’re in a communal shower or changing area) to help stop your feet getting sweaty and smelly. This also helps to prevent fungal infections as these conditions thrive in a moist, warm and dark environment. The floors of communal showers and changing rooms at open-air and hotel swimming pools are hot spots for infections such as athlete’s foot and verruca. Don’t wander around public pools barefoot. Protect your feet by wearing flip-flops in the changing room and at the pool edge. However, don’t be tempted to wear flip-flops all through the summer. They don’t provide support for your feet and can give you arch and heel pain if you wear them for too long, they’re probably best reserved only for the beach.
If you have to wear socks in hot weather, change them once a day and choose ones that contain at least 70% cotton or wool to keep your feet dry and stop them smelling. Hard, cracked skin around the heels is very common in summer, often caused by open-backed sandals and flip-flops rubbing around the edge of the heel. Use a foot file, emery board or pumice stone to gently rub away the hard skin, and then apply a rich moisturising cream such as aqueous cream or E45 to soften the skin. If you have a tendency towards sweaty feet then remember it’s important to wash your feet daily. The use of a handful of salt in warm water (not too hot) is also a great way to minimise the risk of infection. Remember also to dry your feet well taking particular attention to areas between your toes. The use of with cotton wool dipped in surgical spirits can also be useful to dry areas between toes, however, don’t use surgical spirits on your heels as this will dry your feet and may cause cracked heels.
Basic hygiene and nail cutting should be all you need to keep your feet healthy. But if you have any problems, such as hard skin that you can’t get rid of, it’s best to seek professional help. Our fully qualified state registered podiatrists are trained in all aspects of care for the feet and are always there to assist and advise you on any foot problems you may have. A final word, enjoy the summer; goodness knows we deserve some sun.