Are Your Feet Ready for Summer?

Has a season of dry air, damp sidewalks, and heavy footwear left you with cracked heels, jagged nails, and parched skin? Here's a quick plan to get ready for sandal season.

Soak, Soften, and Sand

Plunge your feet in warm water for at least five minutes until your heels feel soft (or at least softer!) You may want to add some Epsom or bath salts to the water. Then, use a foot file or pumice stone to sand down calluses. Never use a razor - leave those to podiatrists.

Cut and File Nails Straight Across

Rounded edges make it easy for ingrown nails to grow. Trim toenails straight across, and then use a nail file to even out the edges. Resist the urge to make too much of an oval.

Cull Cuticles

Apply a cream or oil to cuticles and wait a few minutes for it to sink into the hardened skin. Push cuticles back gently with a wood manicure stick. Don't cut cuticles - they're there to protect your nail bed from infection.

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Apply a heavy lotion to your feet regularly, rubbing it into heels and between toes. Be sure to dry off any excess, since dampness promotes fungal infections. For severe dryness, apply moisturizer to your feet, wrap them in saran wrap, and let it soak in for an hour or two. For a deep treatment, apply petroleum jelly, pull on heavy socks, and leave on overnight.

Massage Feet

Giving your feet a quick massage will feel great and help restore blood flow. When you're moisturizing, give your Achilles heel (the tendon at the back of your ankle) a good squeeze, rotate the ankle, and apply pressure to the pads of your feet, heel, and arches.

Let Them Breathe

If your nails are yellowed or discolored, your first instinct may be to reach for nail polish. Don't do it! They likely need an anti-fungal spray or tea tree oil and some oxygen to restore their healthy state. You may want to work weekly anti-fungal spritzing into your regular foot-care routine. If you get regular pedicures, try to remove polish for a few days in-between pedicures to give nails the chance to breathe before covering them again.

Protect Feet from the Sun

Don't skip the SPF on your feet during sandal weather. You'll not only end up with bizarre tan lines, but this sensitive skin burns easily and is at risk for the same consequences of UV exposure as the rest of your body.

Keep Them Smelling Sweet

Regular cleaning and keeping feet dry should prevent odor, though perspiring is inevitable since feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body. Tip a little talcum powder in your shoes to control odor. If you feel that they're still sweating too much, you may want to talk to your doctor about hyperhidrosis, a condition that can cause excess sweating.


American Podiatric Medical Association

California Podiatric Medical Association