Herbfacts
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Treat your feet: foot care tips for the summer

Summer holidays mean it’s time for feet to make a show, but what if yours are dry and cracked or worse still you’ve got corns or athlete’s foot?

Editor Jane Garton looks at what you need to do to make sure your feet are ready to go bare.

Calluses

The culprit:

A build-up of hard skin under the toes or the heel or ball of the foot usually means you’ve been pounding the streets in shoes that are too tight or too loose. Feet that are flat or high arched are also more susceptible to developing hard dry patches.

Sort it:

Gently buff the area with a foot file when skin is dry and use a deep moisturising cream that penetrates the skin, Repeat at least once a week and wear shoes with shock-absorbing rubber soles.

Top tip:

Avoid wearing flip-flops if you are prone to hard skin.

Ingrown toe nail

The culprit:

Shoes or socks that are too tight around the toes are common triggers. Other reasons include a nail or nail splinter cutting into the skin resulting from incorrect cutting or the nail being knocked accidentally.

Sort it:

Seek professional help as soon as possible. To avoid it recurring always cut toe nails straight across and avoid wearing socks with Lycra that can be tight around the toes.

Top tip:

Pull socks down at the toes when putting on to ensure plenty of room for movement.

Yellow Nails

The culprit:

Wearing dark nail polishes for too long is the usual culprit. Fake tan that migrates down your feet is another common cause.

Sort it:

Buffing nails with a nail buffer will get rid of any discoloration. Go for lighter polishes and let nails go polish-free from time to time.

Top tip:

Renew polish at least once a week.

Corns

The culprit:

Pressure or friction from badly fitting shoes or skin rubbing against bony areas of the feet while walking or running are common causes.

Sort it:

Emollient creams or a gentle buffing down can help to solve the problem. If it persists seek professional help from a podiatrist, as DIY treatments are unlikely to work long term. Corn- removing solutions often contain acids that can make things worse.

Top tip:

Don’t wear the same pair of shoes day after day – sadly your most comfy pair is often the ones that cause the problem.

Athlete’s Foot

The culprit:

A fungus that thrives in the dank, dark, damp warm environment of shoes is the most likely trigger. It is usually picked up in changing rooms or at the poolside at public swimming pools.

Sort it:

A daily application of antifungal cream or powder should clear this one up as can a daily application of diluted tea tree oil to the affected area. Remember also to change shoes regularly and dry well between your toes after bathing or showering.

Top tip:

Trainers are the perfect breeding ground for the fungus that causes athlete’s foot so replace them regularly.

Sweaty Feat

The culprit:

It is not known why some people have sweatier feet than others although anxiety and tension may play a part.

Sort it:

Wash feet daily and always dry carefully, especially between the toes. Change socks and shoes every day too. Moisture-absorbing insoles can help as can a medicated foot powder.

Top tip:

Soak feet in water to which you have added a few drops of an essential oil. Cypress, rosemary or tea tree oils can all help counteract excessive perspiration.

General foot care tips

  • Use a foot file or pumice stone on dry feet once a week. Never do this on wet or damp skin or the shower, as skin will just crack.
  • Always file in one direction from the leg downwards towards the sole of foot. This helps minimise build-up of hard skin at key points of foot such as the side of your big toe and heel.
  • Wear flip-flops in public showers to avoid picking up verrucae and other infections.
  • Moisturise your feet daily with a special foot cream. And don’t make do with your body or face cream. Your skin is five times thicker on your feet than elsewhere on your body so needs a much stronger moisturiser. Look out for ones containing soothing calendula oil
  • Walk barefoot in the sand. It’s a great natural exfoliator and will help tone leg muscles.

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