Living in the Midwest, we only have a finite amount of summer to enjoy every year – and this means you want to take advantage of every warm, sunny moment you can.
Accordingly, the last thing you want is a foot condition taking away your summer fun and enjoyment by causing irritation, discomfort, pain, or even embarrassment!
Today, we are going to talk about how to use a little time and effort to switch your feet out of “winter mode” and get them ready for summer.
There are several different areas encompassed under the larger umbrella of “getting feet ready for summer,” so we need to discuss matters like treating and 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 by using a thick moisturizing cream or lotion. For optimal effectiveness, use the 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!
Athlete’s foot. As we emerge from winter, there’s a chance you might be experiencing the signature itching and burning sensations of athlete’s foot. Why is that? Because the odds are decently high 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. 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, though, you may need something stronger. We can prescribe a medication that will take care of even the most stubborn case of athlete’s foot.
Fungal nails. Something closely related to athlete’s foot—since they are both caused by fungus—is a case of fungal nails. When it comes to treating this condition (even with our advanced laser therapy), you will need anywhere from 6 months to a year for your body to generate new nail tissues.
That means it’s too late to restore your toenails back to a healthy, clear state in time for our summer season. That doesn’t mean this is something you should just let go, however!
Left untreated, the condition will only continue to progress and become worse.
A better plan is to come see us for our highly effective laser treatment for fungal nails. When you do, the laser will begin to eradicate the offensive fungus. While you’re waiting for your new nail tissue to grow in, you may wish to consider using Chrome Girl Nail Polish to cover the old, infected toenails – which are likely dull and discolored.
Chrome Girl is a special kind of nail polish, one that is podiatrist-approved. In fact, we are proud to offer this nail polish for sale at our office. If you want to feel comfortable and confident wearing sandals or open-toed shoes this summer, stop by and pick up a couple of bottles!
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”).
Even if you did vacation during the winter or spring, any suntan or burn has surely faded by now!
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, that’s 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 than you would be if it were on your forehead.
In its 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!
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. Of course, there are actually numerous ways heel pain can develop – and this is why it’s one of the most common conditions we treat for our patients!
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.
Now, some people think a stretching program 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.
Don’t let a recurrent case of plantar fasciitis keep you from favorite summertime activities – come in for professional treatment.
Ingrown toenails. You and your family probably have big plans—in some way, shape, or form—for the summer. Now, summertime activities don’t necessarily cause ingrown toenails to develop all that often, but this particular condition can cause a tremendous amount of discomfort and pain and it can even increase your risk for infection.
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—simply come see us at the earliest possible opportunity.
Here’s the bottom line – don’t let foot conditions and injuries ruin your summer! We only get a couple of months of a true summer, so make them everything you want them to be. Have fun performing favorite activities and stay comfortable wearing sandals or open-toed shoes.
Remember, Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates is here for all of your podiatric needs. Our team looks forward to helping get your feet summer-ready, so be sure to contact us today by calling (309) 661-9975 or connecting with us online right now!