Get Your Feet Fit For Summer

This summer's set to be a scorcher. But before you flash some flesh and put those feet on display, think about your tootsies. We ask the experts how to get feet healthy and ready to go on show.

After months of wedging our toes into tight winter boots and shoes, many people will have forgotten what their feet look like. The thought of wearing sandals and flip flops might fill them with dread, thanks to embarassing skin sights and yellowing toenails.

But summer doesn't have to be scary if you start looking after your feet, says the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.

:: Wear the right shoes

Most foot problems are caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes, so make sure you dress your feet for the right occasion, says podiatrist Alicia Lai.

"In summer, people love to wear flip flops and sandals, but they don't provide much support. You've got to match the shoe to the activity you're doing.

"High-heeled shoes are great for going out, but they put pressure on the ball of the foot and squeeze the toes together, so don't wear them if you're walking long distances," Lai advises.

"Women love wearing ballerina flats these days for commuting, but they have zero support on them. We often find that having a slight wedge or heel to the shoe is better. It releases tension off the ball of the foot and ligaments."

When you're sightseeing on holiday this summer, try not to wear slip-on shoes if you're going to be walking for hours.

"In slip-ons, your feet have to work harder to keep the shoe on, so look for stability features, like something that wraps around the back of the heel."

:: Say goodbye to smelly feet

The average pair of feet produce 280ml of sweat a day, according to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, so it's no wonder they smell!

Following a simple footcare routine can help cut down the sweating, says Lai.

"Letting your feet breathe is always a good thing, so in summer wear sandals, and make sure you alternate shoes daily so they're allowed to dry out.

"Gently wash your feet and moisturise daily. Use a mild soap and warm water, rinse well and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes."

Make sure you change those socks or tights every day to keep your toes fresh and prevent odours from building up.

Lai says if you're wearing socks, choose natural fibres like cotton.

:: Banish those blisters

Blisters are a common summer problem, and happen when we dig out our summer shoes and then have to 'wear them in' all over again.

If your shoes start to rub, fluid will build up between the layers of the skin to act as a buffer in order to prevent further damage.

Lai says: "In summer, people start wearing thongs, which rub between the toes, they often don't wear hosiery or socks, so blisters can be more of an issue.

"If you do have a blister, then obviously follow the usual footcare, and cushion it by popping plasters on to avoid the rub. It should heal in time, but if you're worried, seek attention."

:: Cure cracked heels

When your feet are open to the elements in sandals and thongs, they're more likely to dry out.

Open-backed summer shoes, which rub around the edge of the heel, can cause dry heels to crack and become quite sore.

Podiatrist Lorraine Jones advises moisturising twice a day to prevent heels from cracking, and using a pumice stone or non-metal foot-file in the shower or bath to exfoliate any build-up of skin.

"If the problem worsens, you may need to seek help from a podiatrist," she adds.

"In some more severe cases, strapping may be used to 'hold' the cracks together while they heal and insoles may be used to alter the way you walk to prevent the thick skin from developing."

:: In-growing toenails

Tight shoes can press on the edges of toenails and cause them to start growing inwards.

The skin around a toenail will get sore and red. Ignoring it could end in surgery to remove part of the nail.

"People love to dig down the sides of their nails and leave sharp edges, which makes the nail grow inwards," says Lai.

"Always cut the nail straight across and avoid tight shoes, which squash the toes together. If the problem keeps happening, see a podiatrist."

:: Bunions and corns

Bunions and corns can often develop together - and when you're wearing sandals and thongs they might be embarrassing.

"Bunions usually happen in the joint of the big toe and are more of a structural deformity, where the first big-toe bone moves to the right or left. They can be painful and cause difficulty fitting into shoes," says Lai.

If you're having problems with a bunion, see a podiatrist, who may prescribe orthotic devices - supports which go in shoes - to stabilise the joints.

A build-up of hard skin, known as a corn, might develop where your shoes rub on the bunion.

"Pumicing gently can help, but if it becomes a problem, then see a podiatrist to treat it," says Lai.

:: Verrucas and Athlete's Foot

If you're spending lots of time at public swimming pools this summer, beware of catching verrucas or Athlete's Foot.

While verrucas are a virus and Athlete's Foot is a fungus, they both get passed around in moist areas, like the floors of swimming-pool changing rooms, so it's a good idea to wear thongs to and from the pool.

"Verrucas are warts that grow on the soles of your feet, they can grow large and painful and spread," says Lai. "I've seen 42 verrucas on one person. Get them frozen off with liquid nitrogen by a podiatrist or treat them yourself."

Rub the skin with a pumice stone, before applying a gel or cream from your pharmacist.

Athlete's Foot thrives in the warm sweaty bits between your toes, making your skin itchy and flaky.

"It doesn't mean you're unhygienic, because you catch it in communal areas. Treat it as soon as you can with natural products like tea-tree oil, and let your feet breathe in sandals."

If untreated, the fungus can spread to your toenails, making them yellow, thick and flaky.

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Posted by Luke579Report
I have massive problems with smelly feet and shoes as well. I went to a podiatrist and tried several treatments afterwards. My personal tip is cedar wood. It is naturally anti-bacterial and the cedar wood essential oils effuse a pleasant scent. I am using cedar wood shoe trees and soles. I usually wear Zederna insoles in my shoes.