We’re on the cusp of spring, summer days won’t be far behind that, and no one remembers what the stupid groundhog forecasted—probably not even the overrated rodent himself. It’s time to start talking about getting your feet ready for warmer weather!
(For our dedicated blog readers hailing from Punxsutawney, PA, we sincerely apologize for badmouthing Phil.)
(For our dedicated blog readers who hail from anywhere else—and have never seen the classic Bill Murray documentary Groundhog’s Day—Phil is the name of the infamous Punxsutawney groundhog.)
Okay, enough about that wannabe woodchuck. (Sorry again, Punxsutawney peeps!)
With warmer days on the horizon, now is the time to start taking measures to make sure your feet are summer-ready for when the season arrives!
Sure, there are places in the U.S. that have it worse when it comes to winter weather, but we still get our share of snow, ice, and arctic temps. The good thing about this—hey, there’s always a silver lining!—is that it helps us appreciate summer. If it was 80-degrees all year round, we’d just take it for granted…right? Maybe?
Fine, year-round 80-degree weather sounds pretty good.
*looks up cost of living in Hawaii*
You know, having four distinct seasons is actually a blessing and we’re lucky to live here.
Since we only do have a finite amount of summer to enjoy, you really want to capitalize on it. As such, the last thing you need is a foot condition causing discomfort, irritation, pain, or even embarrassment.
That means you should spend a little time and effort now to switch your feet out of “winter mode.”
Getting feet ready for summer encompasses a couple of different areas. We’re talking about things like treating and/or preventing:
Dry feet. Sweat and oil production is decreased in the winter time, so your feet might be too dry at this point (and especially if you haven’t been following a winter foot care regimen). One of the best ways to rectify this is using shea butter or urea cream (40-42%).
For optimal efficacy, use your go-to foot doc-approved moisturizer within five minutes after your shower or bath.
Some moisturizing products you can buy off the shelf at the supermarket act as barriers – they keep your skin from receiving the natural moisturizers they need. You especially should avoid ones that are petroleum-based. If you would like specific recommendations, come in and see us!
Ingrown toenails. Now, vacation and sports don’t necessarily cause ingrown toenails to develop, but this condition always seems to be worse before sports or vacation. That’s unfortunate because an ingrown nail can cause a lot of discomfort and pain. Even worse, though, it increases infection risk.
So what does this mean for you and your summer? Well, you should have ingrown toenails treated before your summer excursions and activities (so you can, you know, actually enjoy them…).
For optimal results—and reduced infection risk—come see us at the earliest possible opportunity.
Heel pain. When you walk on sand at the beach, your heel drops lower than it usually would. This places extra tension on the Achilles tendon and can potentially cause heel pain. One thing you can do to help mitigate the risk of heel pain ruining your summer is to really make sure you are following an appropriate stretching program.
Of course, some people think a “stretching program” is something that will take a lot of time. This isn’t the case, though! You can do a decent job in just the five minutes you spend brushing your teeth in the morning. We even have a short video to help guide you in this.
Don’t let a recurrent case of plantar fasciitis keep you from favorite summertime activities – come in for professional treatment.
Athlete’s foot. As we emerge from winter, there’s a chance you might be experiencing the signature itching and burning sensations from athlete’s foot. Why is that? Because the odds are decent your feet have spent the past couple of months encased in socks and shoes.
If you haven’t been wearing moisture-wicking, breathable footwear, your feet probably sweat a lot. This is an environment fungi absolutely love. Much like a summer vacation for you, it’s party time for them. See, fungi need warm, damp, and dark areas to thrive. That is the exact description of a foot in a sock and shoe.
Now, this problem can develop any time of year—and obviously has a high risk factor for our winter months—but it’s not one you want to have annoying you while spending time with friends and/or family on a nice, warm summer night!
The good news is that over-the-counter foot sprays for athlete’s foot are often quite effective – if you use them as directed. In the event you aren’t finding relief, you may need something stronger. We can prescribe a medication that will take care of even the most stubborn case of athlete’s foot.
Calluses. This is an interesting case because calluses can be a problem – but they may also offer at least a certain degree of protection against hot sand. (Calluses are natural protection created by the body.)
Whereas calluses can protect skin, so too can a pair of comfortable, supportive sandals. With this being the case, the best practice is to take appropriate measures to address callus buildup and use your beach footwear for protection.
Remember, if you are diabetic, calluses can be really bad news. Left unaddressed, they can break down over time and become dangerous diabetic foot ulcers. Don’t let this happen! Adhere to your diabetic foot care plan and come in for an appointment as soon as you notice a callus (or anything out of the ordinary) on a foot!
Fungal nails. It can take anywhere from 6 months to a year (with proper treatment and adherence to the treatment plan!) for a fungal toenail infection to clear up. At this point, it’s too late to have clear, healthy toenails for the summer season. That doesn’t mean this is something you should just let go, though!
A fungal infection is not going to clear up on its own and, in fact, will only worsen when left untreated.
You certainly don’t want to consider nail polish as your long-term solution. Sure, you can cover unsightly, discolored nails with polish, but the moisture only serves to feed the offensive fungal spores. In a pinch, you can use this as a short-term solution – but make sure you plan on professional care! (Coincidentally, we provide professional treatment for toenail fungus…)
Note: We hate to break it to you, but those at-home remedies you’ve heard about don’t work. Think about it this way – if cider vinegar or tea tree oil really worked, Big Pharma would have found a way to capitalize on it – and they haven’t.
Sunburns. The odds are rather decent you didn’t sunburn your feet this winter—unless you took a vacation to warmer regions—so this falls in the “preventive” camp (instead of “treatment”).
This is one we find has to be mentioned because it’s easy to remember to put sunscreen on your arms and face – and easy to forget about your feet. Even when applying sunscreen to their legs, lots of people stop right around the ankle. That’s so odd because there isn’t all that much further to go. It’s kind of like stopping your marathon fifty feet from the finish line. (“Eh, close enough.”)
Melanoma (skin cancer) is a serious issue no matter where it develops on the body, but it can be especially concerning in feet. Why is that? Feet are important, but they’re not vital organs or anything, right? Well, the problem is that cancer is most effectively treated at the earliest stages. Feet are A) the farthest points on the body from the eyes and B) often covered. As such, you are less likely to notice a suspect blemish as you would be if it were on your forehead.
At early stages, melanoma is treatable, but it’s best to just avoid this whole issue in the first place – so make sure you use sunscreen on your feet!
Now that you understand the basics of getting your feet ready for summer, put them into practice and take a picture of your feet on the beach. Send your pics our way and we’ll post them on our website. Oh, and you get bonus points if they are photographed next to a tropical drink! (Tiny umbrella is optional, but strongly encouraged.)
If you need any help getting your feet summer-ready or protecting them in our warmer days, contact our office by calling (317) 545-0505. Request an appointment so you can come in and see us for professional care and advice to keep your lower limbs safe – all year long!