How to keep your feet healthy this summer
You've kept them bound up and under wraps all winter, and now your feet want to get out and enjoy the sun just like you do. But with more exposure comes more possibility for injury and infection.
This week on “Take Care,” Dr. Neal Blitz shares with us how to keep our feet healthy this summer. Blitz is a reconstructive foot and ankle surgeon, and the creator of the Bunionplasty bunion surgery procedure. He is also a fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, and maintains a private practice in New York City.
There are three main elements your feet are subject to with warmer weather — swelling, stinky, and scratchy, according to Blitz.
“Swelling is a very common thing we see during the summer months because the heat causes fluid to leak into the tissue,” Blitz said.
Higher temperatures allow fluid to pass more easily from blood vessels and the lymphatic system into surrounding tissues of the foot, where it then gets stuck and causes swelling, according to Blitz. He also says this can be more common in women.
Although the heat can cause your feet to swell, Blitz reminds us that there are other factors that can cause this as well, such as medical issues like high blood pressure.
As we may know by now, when we sweat we smell, and warmer weather often causes our feet to sweat.
“Bacteria and decomposed sweat is responsible for that really gross, cheesy foot smell that people experience,” Blitz said.
Fortunately, he has some advice on how to make your feet not smell like rotten cheese.
“If you have sweaty feet, and you know who you are, the first thing to do is to use powder. Powder absorbs the moisture,” Blitz said. “The second thing to do is to change your socks as often as you can.”
And when you change your socks, avoid cotton.
“They really do collect moisture, just think about a cotton ball,” Blitz said. “Synthetic socks wick away the moisture.”
Along with this, Blitz says there are also antiperspirants that can help, and for severe cases Botox.
“That’s a condition called hyperhidrosis [uncontrollable, excessive sweating],” Blitz said.
Since your feet tend to sweat more in the summer, they become more susceptible to infection, like athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that can make your feet dry, flaky, and itchy, according to Blitz.
Some remedies for athlete’s foot, and dry feet, can be simple and incorporated into a daily schedule.
“Be hydrated,” Blitz said. “Try using moisturizers that have something called urea, or urea cream. Urea is a natural moisturizer made by your body in your skin, so applying urea to those areas can really help out significantly.”
However, when moisturizing your feet, be sure not to apply creams between your toes. Blitz says it’s easy for moisture to collect here and cause cracks in your feet, which can actually lead to infection.
“Definitely stick to the heels and balls of the foot for moisturizer,” Blitz said.
There is also a technique called inclusion, that Blitz says can help with severely dry feet. This can be done by purchasing gel socks, or applying moisturizer to dry areas and then wrapping them in plastic wrap for the same effect.