Keep Your Feet Healthy This Summer
We talk to a podiatrist to find out how to keep feet healthy all summer long.
-Kathryn H. Cusimano
Summer means a lot of fun stuff– trips to the beach, lounging by the pool – and, unfortunately, really terrible shoes, at least as far as your feet are concerned. Flat, lightweight shoes and sandals leave your feet vulnerable to infections and other problems that can really put a damper on your season. We caught up with Dr. Krista Archer, a New York City-based podiatrist and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association, to find out what we can do to keep our feet healthy through the tough summer months.
“Fungus is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere in the environment,” Archer says. Though regular showers won’t really keep you from getting fungus, there are ways you can protect yourself from this potentially nasty infection, which causes the condition most of us know as athlete’s foot. Locker rooms in pools and gyms are often fungus-laden, so be sure to wear flip-flops when you’re getting dressed or taking a shower. “Fungus loves warm, moist, dark environments,” Archer said. “You never want to walk barefoot in the gym locker room. And here’s an unpleasant surprise: Leaving your sweaty gym socks on for too long can also help fungus develop!
If you do get a fungal infection, it shows up on nails, and this is the worst time of year for your nails to look gross. They start to look yellow or white and can become thick or brittle. “When it gets bad, it goes from being white or yellow to a dark brown,” Archer says. “If you see something suspicious, seek medical attention. The longer you wait, the harder it is to get rid of.” If the infection gets into your skin, you’ll notice a lot of itching and flaking that can’t be treated with a heavy-duty moisturizer. It can also show up between your toes – the skin will look white and wrinkly, as though you’ve spent too long in the bath. Says Archer, “It’s important to treat it as soon as you notice it because if it cracks, you can get a bacterial infection on top of a fungal infection.” Archer said. may prescribe an over-the-counter cream or tablet, or even a prescription remedy.
When you spend a lot of time barefoot, you’re likely to get a wart, which is caused by a viral infection. “You pick this up from minute, often invisible cracks in the feet,” Archer said. She suggests using the same methods you’d use to prevent fungus – always wear flip-flops by the pool, in the locker room, and by the beach. Warts are treated with creams and antiviral medications, but some warts may require a doctor’s attention. “In the office, I shave them down, then burn them or freeze them,” Archer said. Don’t worry, that’s not a painful procedure, but it’s better to take precautions and avoid it!