With warm weather on the horizon, it’s time to shed those boots and wool socks and let your feet see the sunshine.
For some of us, though, our toes and heels will need more than a pair of flip-flops and a coat of nail polish to be ready for public consumption. With help from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), here’s what you need to know to keep your skin smooth and your feet healthy and blister-free this season.
- Check your shoes. It isn’t just high heels and pointy toes that can give you blisters, although those certainly can be the worst culprits. Improperly fitting shoes of all kinds can rub and pinch. Otherwise “comfortable” exercise sneakers can wreak havoc with your feet too. Evaluate whether you have a low (flat) arch, normal arch or high arch and then get the shoe that has the right flexibility and cushioning for your foot.
- Polish with caution. We know you probably can’t wait for that pedicure to remove calluses and soften your skin. But you don’t want to cause more problems than you solve. Make sure you select a salon that sanitizes all its equipment—from the soaking tubs to the implements. People with diabetes need to exercise even more caution, as nicks (and the resulting infections) can be serious health risks. Ask if your salon uses an autoclave (a pressurized chamber that sterilizes medical instruments). Don’t be afraid to express concerns or let them know that you have diabetes and need extra care.
- Buy quality sandals. If you’re going to wear that warm weather staple, the flip-flop, don’t just grab a cheap pair from the drugstore. Make sure you pick a pair that doesn’t rub between the toes (leading to blisters and possible infection) and that gives you some arch and heel support. And don’t skip footwear altogether to go barefoot, particularly at the pool and other public places. Your summer shoes can offer protection from contracting plantar warts and athlete’s foot.
- Moisturize. Keep away dry skin and cracked heels with lotion, tea tree oil or other moisturizers. Apply before you go to bed and wake up with soft feet.
- Take changes seriously. Many blisters are mere annoyances caused by rubbing from improperly fitting shoes. But blood blisters, ulcerations and other odd-shaped patches may be a symptom of something more serious. If you have concerns about something unusual on your foot, discuss it with your physician. Tingling, stiffness and swelling in the feet can be signs of other health issues ranging from diabetes to high blood pressure.