Protect your feet during the summer
DR. MONIQUE MITCHELL
Published: Jul 09, 2013
As we enjoy the long hot summer, we think only of long strolls on the beach and the feel of sand through our toes. We never think of the dangers that might be lurking outside with all that sun, sand and sea. From playing sports on the beach and swimming, to walking in sandals or open-toed shoes, many summer activities put persons at risk for foot injuries and infections. These can be even more serious for persons with diabetes. Here are some simple tips as to how to protect your feet and prevent injuries, so you can stay on the beach and safely enjoy your summer outdoors.
• Do not walk barefoot. Walking bare foot puts your feet at risk for many injuries and infections including punctures, sunburn, as well as microorganisms that cause plantar warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other infections. Something as minor as stubbing a toe on a coffee table or bumping a soccer ball at the park can lead to a serious foot ulcer.
While at the beach, seashells, sharp stones, glass or other debris from the ocean can puncture the skin and cause serious infections that can be made worse by diabetes. Walking barefoot on the hot pavement is especially dangerous and can lead to severe burns. To prevent injuries and protect your feet, always wear closed-toe beach shoes or sandals everywhere, including around the pool, to the beach, in the locker room and even when walking on carpeting or in the bathroom of your hotel room.
Some activities or sports at the beach may require different types of footwear to be worn. Always wear the shoes designed for each activity. To be safe, pack an extra pair of sneakers or protective water shoes. If your shoes get wet, they should be dried out completely before you wear them again to prevent bacterial or fungal infections.
• Use sunscreen on your feet. Spending long hours in the sun can expose your feet to harmful rays that increase your risk of sun burns and skin cancer. Your feet are just as much at risk for skin cancer as the rest of your body. However, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, persons often do not apply sunscreen to their feet when they apply sunscreen to the rest of their body. Many don’t realize skin cancer can occur on the feet from unprotected sun exposure, and not applying sunscreen to the area. Skin cancer on the foot, including squamous or basal cell carcinoma and melanoma often go unnoticed because people don't check their feet as diligently as they check other body parts. To lessen your risk for sunburns and skin cancer, remember to apply sunscreen all over your feet, especially on the top and front of ankles, and even the toes. Don’t forget to reapply after you’ve been in the pool or sea.
• Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day while you are in the sun or on the beach. This will not only help with overall health, but will also minimize any foot swelling caused by the heat.
•Exercise your feet. Even though you may be on vacation or enjoying the summer, continue your exercise routine or at least get some activity. While sitting you can keep the blood flowing in your feet with periodic ankle flexes, toe wiggles and calf stretches.
• Inspect your feet daily, especially during the summer. Inspect your feet every day before putting on your shoes and after taking them off. If you are not flexible enough to see underneath your feet, using a mirror can be helpful. Check the sides of your feet, between the toes and at the heel. Diabetics should always inspect the inside of the shoe before putting them on for debris that may rub and injure their feet. Even a small pebble or sand can create a sore that may not cause pain, but can lead to a more serious ulcer or infection if not treated promptly.
• In case of minor foot complaints, be prepared with handy on-the-go foot care supplies to care for your foot. These may include sandals to wear by the pool, spa, in the hotel room or even airport security check points; sterile bandages, for covering minor cuts and scrapes; antibiotic cream which can be used to treat any skin injury; moisturizing cream or lotion, to hydrate feet; blister pads or moleskin, to protect against blisters; Anti-inflammatories to ease tired, swollen feet; Toenail clippers to keep toenails trimmed; Emery board to file rough edges or broken nails; Pumice stone to soften callused skin; Sunscreen to protect against the scorching sun and aloe vera or silvadene cream to relieve sunburns.
Following these simple tips can help protect your feet from the heat and prevent injury to your feet, allowing you to have an enjoyable and uneventful time at the beach. If you injure your foot or ankle while on vacation or at the beach, seek professional medical attention from a podiatrists right away. The earlier injuries are treated the faster they can heal and prevent more serious complications.
• For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.apma.org or www.foothealth.org. To see a podiatrist, visit Bahamas Foot Centre on Rosetta Street or call 325-2996 or visit Bahamas Surgical Associates on Albury Lane or call 394-5820 for an appointment.