For many of us, summer means cool grass under our feet and sand between our toes.
But when it comes to your foot health, you might want to think twice about that warm-weather ritual.
“One of the big things in the summertime is that people like to go barefoot around the pool, on the grass or at the beach, but that opens up the possibility of a number of issues,” says Red Deer podiatrist Dr. Darren Woodruff, from Central Alberta Podiatry.
So as you plan your summer adventures, keep these DOs and DON’Ts in mind:
- DO protect your feet poolside: For those cooling off in the pool, or cleaning up in the campground shower, bare feet can be exposed to athlete’s foot, plantar warts, nail fungus and a variety of other common communicable conditions, says Dr. Woodruff, in practice in Red Deer for six years. “While I don’t recommend walking in flip-flops for any length of time, they will definitely help protect your feet in these kinds of areas.”
- DO save your soles: For those having fun in local rivers and lakes, consider some kind of water shoe or sandal to protect the soles of your feet from anything sharp that you can’t see from the surface. Just be sure to bring footwear to change into so your feet aren’t sitting in wet shoes, and be sure to dry them fully before wearing so you don’t encourage bacteria growth, Dr. Woodruff recommends.
- DON’T forget sunscreen: It’s easy to forget your feet when applying sunscreen, but sunburned feet – top or bottom – are no fun. Be sure to lather on a full-spectrum sunscreen to all parts of your feet exposed to the sun, and remember that sun-baked sand and pavement can also cause burns, so cover up. “It’s tough to go through your holiday with sunburned feet!”
- DO keep moving: Road-tripping this summer? “Keep your feet moving while you’re in the car – wiggle your toes and flex and rotate your ankles to keep the blood moving,” Dr. Woodruff says.
- DO wear the right shoes for your activity: Back to the flip-flops, while perfect for the pool, they’re not built for a day of walking or hiking. Look for shoes with support and stability to keep your feet, ankles, knees and hips working well all summer long.
And wherever your travels take you this summer, DO remember your feet when packing your essentials: flip-flops for the pool, Band-Aids and antibacterial ointment for any injuries, aloe vera or Flamazine cream in case of sunburn, emolient-rich moisturizer (avoid a lot of alcohol in the ingredients) and moleskin to prevent blisters.