Now that the weather is now warming up, people are spending extra time outside taking part in sports and other activities such as outdoor walks. Like all other parts of the body, feet require regular TLC and checkups by a state-registered podiatrist. We need to remember that healthy feet start with healthy skin and good supportive footwear. As we embark on the summer ahead, here are my tips on how to ensure your feet are healthy and properly cared for.
Common skin-related foot problems
Let’s begin with remembering that we need to focus on keeping the skin healthy. My first recommendation is applying sunscreen on the feet during the summer months. Skin cancer on feet has been becoming increasingly common as well as skin cancer underneath the nails, so keep a careful eye out for any signs of melanoma on your feet.
Other common skin problems during the summer also include athlete’s foot and plantar warts. Plantar warts, also commonly known as the verruca, are caused by a virus. They result in little areas of bumps that result in scaling of the skin or small black dots found normally on pressure points.
Athlete’s foot, a type of infection, is most commonly found on feet that are moist which causes scaling of the skin, normally found in areas in between the toes. This infection can also affect the nails making it even more difficult to manage. Wearing sandals can help with trying to prevent these infections and viruses from developing. However, it’s very important to choose the right type of sandals, as choosing the wrong sandals can actually cause more harm than good. Wearing the wrong type of sandals can cause other foot issues such as bunions, arthritis, stress fractures and flat feet.
What to look out for in open footwear
For those who have pre-existing foot pain or suffering from plantar fasciitis, flip-flops can exacerbate it and make it much worse. Sliders, a type of sandal that have become very popular amongst both men and women, are also a poor choice as there is no support and the design allows your feet to move in the shoe. This causes you to claw your toes to gain stability and keep your foot in the sandal, which will cause damage to your feet. I strongly recommend wearing sandals that offer more support by having a feature at the back that insures the sandal stays on the foot, to reduce sliding around in the shoe.
If you discover that you have a plantar wart, I advise that you seek professional help rather than use over-the-counter remedies. These remedies will only delay the appropriate treatment required. With athletes foot you can use over-the-counter products recommended by your local pharmacist. Anti-fungal preparation should be used several times a day over a course of several weeks. If the infection has entered the nails, you may need oral medication.
Spending time barefoot
If you are planning to spend any time barefoot during the summer months, I recommend that you are mindful of injuries and infections that can occur as a result of no protection on your soles. For those who like to walk barefoot to strengthen their feet, try see a podiatrist first to ensure that your foot structure would actually benefit from barefoot walking. Depending on the structure of your feet, especially your arch, the length of time you choose to walk barefoot outdoors may be restricted, as to not cause damage to your feet. Your podiatrist will be able to advise you on whether barefoot walking would be suitable for your foot type or not.
General foot care
Seeing a podiatrist for a regular check-up is as important as visiting the dentist for checkups and oral hygiene. Investing in your feet from a young age, just like your teeth, will result in longevity in your mobility and well-being. I recommend having a yearly biomechanical assessment to ensure that your alignment is correct and to assess whether you would benefit from having orthotics made for you, which can prevent foot deformity, enhance your athletic performance and general well-being. New technology has allowed podiatrists to create high-performance bespoke orthotics that offer accurate description and design through 3-D scanning and 3-D printing.
Remember your soul is dependent on your sole to support it through the journey of life. Love it, take care of it and support it so that it can support you.
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