Gearing Up for Summer Heat: How to Protect Your Feet and Avoid the Foot Doctor
With the warm, beautiful weather on its way, it’s time to start thinking about gearing your feet up for the summer heat. While we may be tempted to pack away all of our socks and pull out our flip-flops and sandals, it’s important to first consider what summer has in store for us; heat, dirt, humidity, and warm-weather activities. This type of environment can lead to fungal growth, bacterial infections, swelling, as well as, cuts and bruises. Without the right protective gear or measures in place, you might end up with foot pain that requires an appointment with Wasatch Foot and Ankle. To help you avoid this, we’ve compiled this brief guide on gearing up for summer.
Don’t Exile the Socks Completely
One of the first things many of us do is pack away our socks. While thick winter socks won’t do you any good in the heat, you shouldn’t exile all socks from your drawer. If you’re planning on participating in warm-weather activities like camping, hiking, or theme-park adventures, it is important to keep your feet dry. For this, you need specialized socks that are made from moisture-wicking materials, use low-impact dyes, and don’t have itchy seams in them.
l Materials: the best choices here are Merino wool, polyester, bamboo, silk sock liners, and Ingeo which is a corn-based, eco-friendly sock made out of polylactic acid fibers. The recommendation on the wool comes from the fact that it keeps your feet cool and dry by transporting and pulling moisture away as vapor and storing it in the inherently porous fibers .
l Dyes: look for dyes that are eco-friendly and low-impact. They use non-toxic chemicals, or can be naturally made from wild plants.
By following these measures, you avoid needing to see a podiatrist (foot doctor), as you’re less likely to contract fungal growths, have foot pain from open wounds and blisters, or have infections from commercial dyes.
Choose Your Footwear Carefully
While flip-flops are a common go-to, they are linked to high levels of foot pain and injuries because they don’t provide the best support. Instead, look to pick up arch-supporting sandals that come with adjustable straps that you can fit snugly around your ankles.
If you don’t need the breathability of sandals, consider mesh or canvas, closed-toe sneakers with a proper sole for your feet. As always, make sure that the shoe is firm around the heel, contains 0.5 inches of space for your toes, and are appropriate for the activity you are participating in.
6 Additional Summer Care Tips to Keep in Mind
1. Barefoot is a No-Go. It is not recommended that you go barefoot, especially in public places like beaches, theme parks, and pools. If you do, your feet may pick up viral or fungal infections like warts or athlete’s foot. By exposing your feet, you are at greater risk for cuts and bruises and burns from hot surfaces.
2. Minimize Foot Swelling. The heat dehydrates us and as such, our bodies will try to retain as much water as possible. This causes swelling throughout our entire body, but especially in our feet. Avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks if you notice swelling and make sure to stay hydrated with water.
3. Moisturize & Apply Sunscreen. Save yourself a whole lot of foot pain from sunburns and slather the sunscreen on your feet! Take care to get it around your ankles, on the tops, and don’t forget the bottom too. Beyond protecting you against sunburns, it helps fight against skin cancer that comes from the harsh UV rays of the sun. Reapply as needed.
The heat of the summer will dry your skin out. Combine this with chlorinated water and not enough hydration and you may be in for a lot of foot pain from cracks in your skin. Moisturize your feet to avoid fungal growth and infections.
4. Remove Slivers Immediately. If you do end up barefoot and get a sliver in your foot, remove it immediately. You will need a pair of sterilized tweezers, antibiotic ointment, and a loose bandage to cover the wound. If the sliver isn’t visible or is stuck too far in, see your foot doctor as soon as possible to get an assessment done.
5. Trim Your Nails Down. While this is good practice in general, the summer months can bring out a lot more physical activity for many of us. Improperly trimmed toenails can cause cuts, chafing, and ingrown toenails. Both ingrown toenails and cuts can lead to swelling and infections.
6. Water Activities = Clean Your Feet Off. If you are headed into the river, lake, or ocean, wear water-safe shoes to protect you against hazards in the water that you can’t see. To prevent infection from bacteria, rinse your feet with clean, warm water and soap after you’re done and pat your feet completely dry before donning your shoes.
If you find yourself with foot pain that persists, reach out for a medical assessment from one of our expertly trained podiatrists here at Wasatch Foot and Ankle. They can help diagnose where the discomfort is coming from, whether you have a sprain or a break, and what the next steps are to heal the injury.