It’s time to swap out the closed-toe shoes for some airy open-toe numbers. But be aware—exposing the tender skin of the feet to the sun can be a hazardous experience. For kicks, Pulse asked Dr. Alison D. Croughan, a specialist in podiatric medicine at Associated Podiatrists in Huntington and Roslyn, to teach both men and women about summer foot care.
Lesson 1: Use Sunblock
Some people learn the painful way how easily the tops and bottoms of feet can burn at the beach—or just from walking around. If a burn does occur, Croughan warns not to pop blisters. Opening the skin leaves it vulnerable to infection. The best solution, said Croughan, is preventing a burn in the first place. Sunblock is key, especially in reducing the risk of skin cancer. Don’t forget to apply to the tips of the toes and in between them.
Lesson 2: Wear the Right Shoes
Let’s talk support. Feet need it, especially in the summer. But admit it—almost everyone reaches for a cheapo pair of flip-flops in a hurry. However those 99-cent bargains, said Croughan, should only be worn when walking “from the car to the beach, or from the car to the pool.” She recommends sandals like those from Vioni, which provide the support of a proper shoe with the look and ease of a flip-flop. Prices range from around $50 (on sale) to $140; vionicshoes.com.
Lesson 3: Don’t Go Barefoot
Hot sidewalks are scorching, but the biggest problem with walking barefoot, said Croughan, is the possibility of foreign bodies entering the foot. Wooden boardwalks and beach parking lots are loaded with debris. In summer months, she regularly treats patients with splinters, sea shells, shards of glass and fish hooks lodged in their feet. These patients are susceptible to cellulitis, a potentially serious bacterial infection.
Lesson 4: Preserve a Pedicure
The textured sand on the beach can turn a pretty, polished pedi dull. Here’s a simple fix that doesn’t require a return trip to the nail salon: after showering, apply a layer of clear nail polish to toenails, instantly changing them from lackluster to glossy. And when it’s time for a fresh pedicure, Croughan suggests bringing your own nail polish to avoid cross contamination.
Lesson 5: Moisture Control
Showers at the beach and pool are a breeding ground for mold. To shield feet from those germy tiles, slip on a pair of water shoes or flip-flops. Just realize that shoes need to be switched quickly and thoroughly dried before wearing again. Once dry, Croughan advises spraying a generous dose of anti-microbial and anti-fungal spray. “If you don’t treat the shoes, it’s like chasing your tail,” explained Croughan.
Lesson 6: Stop Hiding Your Feet
It’s difficult for many people to find the confidence to expose their feet to the world. Fortunately, a cosmetic solution called KeryFlex is available. Croughan uses it to create a realistic looking artificial resin nail that can be buffed, filed and painted like a natural nail. Also, unlike acrylic material, it won’t trap moisture.