For months, thick socks, sturdy boots, and cozy slippers have kept your feet warm and dry. Now that warmer weather has arrived, it’s time to bare your soles — though you may not fall head over heels with the shape they are in.
“In winter, we tend to ignore our feet,” says Dr. Michelle Castiello, a Podiatrist at Scarsdale Medical Group. “Come spring and summer, we may notice very dry skin, cracked heels, and toenails that are ingrown or long.”
How can we regain our footing, so to speak, to enjoy the summer to its fullest? Dr. Castiello shares her top tips:
- Check your feet regularly. Feet can get short shrift in our hygiene routine. “When we wash with soap or slather with cream, we usually stop at our ankles,” she notes. Take time to wash your feet in the shower, to scrub off sweat, bacteria, and fungus. As you towel off, examine each foot, including between the toes, for any changes that aren’t normal for you — think new calluses, corns, blisters, or bunions, and thick or discolored toenails. “I always advise patients to let their podiatrist know of a change; don’t shrug it off or try to treat it on your own,” notes Dr. Castiello.
- Limit sun exposure. “Don’t forget the tops of your feet and ankles when you’re applying sunscreen,” she advises. “At the beach or when wearing sandals, always use sunblock on your feet just as on the rest of your body. Make sure to reapply after swimming.”
- Treat your feet. Your feet work hard and deserve attention. Dr. Castiello recommends this treatment: Soak your feet with warm water and Epsom salt to exfoliate your skin. Use pumice stones and foot files to treat corns and calluses, then moisturize. (Caveat: patients with diabetes, poor circulation, neuropathy, or heart problems should see a podiatrist for exfoliation, corn, or callus treatment to avoid infection.) “Thicker emollients, such as Vaseline or Aquaphor, are good options at first; after a few days, switch to a lotion. Moisturize tops, bottoms, and heels, but not between the toes — bacteria and fungus love dark places to grow,” she explains.
- Pedicure properly – and don’t let lacquer linger. Choose a nail salon with licensed technicians. All metal tools should be sanitized, and non-metal tools should be new for each client. No matter how great your polish looks with your sandals, never keep the same coat for more than three weeks at a time, Dr. Castiello advises. “Moisture can form between the nail polish and the nails, leading to fungal infections, brittle nails and discoloration,” she says. Remove the color to check out your toes, au naturel, every three weeks, then refresh your polish.
- Edit and update your shoe selection. Try on all warm-weather shoes that have been stashed away for the season. “Our feet change for various reasons, whether you’ve lost weight, your arches have flattened, or you’ve developed bunions or hammertoes. Don’t try to shove your feet into shoes that don’t fit properly,” she notes. If they still fit and support you well, keep them. If they’re worn out, replace them with a pair that fits comfortably.