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Happy, Healthy Feet for Summer!

  • Brought to you by: Michael DiGiacomo, D.P.M and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center

  • As we prepare for barefoot and sandal weather after a long rainy winter, here are some helpful healthy hints.

    Remember that as we walk in sandals, we lose the grip of the rear foot, and thus our heels tend to slide right to left as we walk. This creates excess shear and compression on the skin of the heel. This creates accumulation and cracking of the skin. To combat this, one needs to gently debride that skin on a daily basis. The best procedure is to buff the heels with a pumice stone with each bath or shower while the skin is wet. This daily routine keeps the buildup to a minimum.

    Next, one should use a good emollient. A simple one to use in the evening is A and D ointment--this has two vitamins and a mild wax which coats the skin effectively.

    As to nail care: Please cut them straight across and warn the pedicurist to do the same. Cutting off the edges creates ingrowing nails. If you go to a salon, bring your own instruments, and make sure if a foot bath is used that it has a disposable liner for your safety (see my tips for pedicure safety).

    As to polishing/painting the nails, if there is any evidence of fungal infection (loose or discolored areas of nails) do not paint them before having a professional evaluate them for possible treatment. Painting over an infection is like sweeping dirt under a rug. Also if your nails are healthy and you wish to paint them, consider using an antifungal clear base coat before applying the colored polish. And also, consider leaving the nails without polish at least one week out of a month in order to allow drying and light to discourage fungal growth.

    When we begin warmer weather, we often put on flat footgear, such as sandals, espadrilles or moccasin-type shoes. This often strains the Achilles tendon in the back of the lower leg, and the plantar fascia which is the ligament-like tissue extending from the heel bone forward toward the toes. Its job is to help support the arch, and these two tissues often become shortened when we wear high heels, or any footgear with a heel higher than the front of the shoe. When we suddenly begin to wear unconstructed or flat footgear, it often strains these tissues. The remedy is to begin stretching the calves more often as soon as we begin wearing this type footgear.

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