It’s natural to be more active in the summertime since the weather is nicer, but it’s important to be mindful of the skin and nails on your feet while partaking in all of that summer fun! Dry and cracked skin and ingrown nails can lead to infections and other injuries and can leave you vulnerable to further complications. You’re more at risk of these severe complications if you have a health condition like diabetes, a poor immune system that doesn’t fight infections well, and also poor circulation to your feet.
Remember when your parent(s) told you to be careful when walking outside barefoot because there could be rusty nails, broken glass, or a hundred other things to scare you into putting your shoes on? We know that feeling the warm sand between your toes at the beach feels great and there’s nothing that compares to it, but don’t forget that there are plenty of sharp things beneath the sand that can harm your feet. Consider wearing shoes that will shield your feet from getting cut or punctured by seashells and other sharp objects, both on and off the beach.
Another reason to consider not going barefoot this summer is to prevent your skin and toenails from developing fungus. Toe fungus is commonly spread in places that can harbor warm and damp environments like pools, saunas, locker rooms/showers, and gyms. Fungal toenails can have ugly discoloration and warped toenails with brittle and ragged edges. Since your toes have low blood circulation, a lot of antifungal medications take a long time to work effectively, if at all. Athlete’s foot is caused by the same type of fungus that you can grow in your toenails, but typically this can be treated with topical antifungals that are over the counter. Ways to prevent developing fungus in your toenails or feet are to wear shoes when in humid areas, try to keep your feet dry, and wash/dry your feet every day. This works the same when it comes to preventing warts on your feet. While they are typically harmless, they can cause some pain depending on if they’re in a sensitive spot and may require a few doctor visits to fully remove. HPV, which is the virus that causes warts, thrives in humid environments just like toe fungus.
While you’re preparing to cover your body with sunscreen to prevent sunburn, remember that your feet can get sunburnt as well. Preventing your skin from overexposure to UV radiation from the sun is important in reducing your risk of developing melanoma/ skin cancer. Applying water-resistant sunscreen to your feet every few hours is a great way to protect them from the sun since your feet still sweat even if you don’t plan to do any swimming. Eczema and dry skin can occur from sunburns, and itchy rashes aren’t any fun. If you do manage to get sunburn on your feet, make sure to keep them moisturized to prevent itchiness and cracked heels/fissures. When the skin on the bottom of your heel becomes too dry, you can develop deep cracks underneath and along the sides of your heel. As a result, there is often pain, and bleeding depending on the severity (which can be an infection risk).
If you participate in any summer sports or exercise, check to see if the shoes you wear are a good fit for your feet and aren’t too tight. Wearing ill-fitting shoes can cause ingrown toenails, which can lead to some pain that could make it difficult to wear shoes comfortably. If the toenail gets infected, it can cause some harsher complications (especially if you have diabetes). Ill-fitting athletic shoes can lead to tendonitis as well, which causes pain and swelling in your foot/ankle. Tight socks and shoes can lead to pressure and friction on your feet, so you’re more susceptible to developing corns and calluses on your feet and in between your toes. Calluses develop to protect the skin from constant friction and are typically painless. Corns are more likely to develop in between your toes and on top of your feet, which could cause some pain and tenderness.
If you have diabetes or a condition that leads to a weaker immune system, it’s important to care for the skin and nails on your feet. We have lower blood circulation in our feet, even more so if you have diabetes since it does shut down circulation in your toes and feet. Stepping on broken sea glass or developing toe fungus can be more dangerous since they take longer to heal. If you do suffer from an injury, it’s important to see a doctor make sure the wound heals quickly and doesn’t get infected. Even things like minor cuts and blisters could turn into ulcers that take a long time to heal and have harsher consequences like amputation if not addressed quickly.
To sum things up, don’t forget to take care of the skin and nails on your feet while you’re busy having fun this summer. The three big takeaways are to make sure your feet stay moisturized and don’t get ignored by sunscreen, wear shoes at all times that’ll protect your feet from injury, and come visit your doctor if you come across any issues. We want you to have as much fun as you can, and we’re here to help if you need us!
Here at Northwest Extremity Specialists, we are committed to offering you the best care at every location, regardless of the issue you’re having. Call us at 503-245-2420 if you want to schedule a visit!