Great health requires taking care of your body from head to toe, but our feet do not always get the attention they deserve. Uncomfortable shoes, athlete’s foot, and other problems can make walking difficult or unpleasant. As the weather changes and vacation season begins, many people trade their boots and tennis shoes for sandals.
Tips to keep your feet healthy all season long
Foot Care 101
Generally, keep your feet clean, dry and protected. Shoes are often designed to provide some basic protection when we walk, but they can also be part of the problem. Many common conditions happen when we wear the wrong shoes or come into contact with sources of infection. Poor circulation, diabetes, and other health conditions can also affect your feet.
Everyday Care at Home
- Wear Shoes—Choose the right pair for the right activity. If you are hiking, for example, bring footwear that provides protection from the rough terrain. Shoes that are tight, restrict circulation or trap sweat around your skin may be harmful. If your shoes become wet, dry them before wearing again.
- Maintain Good Hygiene—Be sure to regularly trim your nails, inspect your feet for cuts or injuries and keep them clean and dry.
Vacation and Travel
- Barefoot? Be Careful—Walking around without socks or footwear is a popular warm-weather activity, but avoiding shoes can result in damage to your feet or infections. Some public places such as locker rooms and swimming pools are full of bacteria and fungi even when they look clean and well-maintained.
- Carry a First Aid and “Happy Toes” Kit—Pack along some antibiotic ointment, bandages, blister pads or moleskin, a pair of flipflops, a pumice stone, toenail clippers, an emery board, sunscreen and lotion to keep yourself sandal-ready and prepared for minor cuts and scrapes.
Seeing a Podiatrist
Podiatrists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating feet. These physicians can help you learn how to keep them healthy and identify conditions that may need closer supervision and more aggressive care.
You may need a podiatry appointment if you have diabetes, poor circulation, show signs of a serious condition, or have an injury that does not heal. This is not a comprehensive list of warning signs, so if you do have concerns about your health you may want to see your primary care provider.
- Diabetes—If you have diabetes, your healthcare provider may recommend special foot care. Your risk of infection may be higher, so caring for your feet is important.
- Broken, Sprained or Another Injury—Seek medical attention promptly if you suspect any significant injuries.
- Wound Not Healing—Any cut, bruise or other injury that is not healing may be a sign of infection or a serious condition. If self-care is not helping, it is probably time to seek professional advice.
If you notice any unexpected problems with your feet, schedule a podiatry appointment with Alissa Redding, DPM at Glacial Ridge Health System. She can develop a custom care plan based on your needs, and she can recommend more ways to care for your feet.