Keeping your feet healthy and happy all summer long can be a challenge. Between the long walks and skimpy shoes (not to mention the late nights and extra sun!), our feet go through a lot. And if you wear orthotics, finding summer shoes that will work with them can often add to the frustration.
Three of the most common issues I see in the summertime with regards to foot health and orthotics are:
1. Dry skin and heel cracks, which are often the result of wearing open heel shoes.
2. Difficulty finding footwear that take orthotics
3. Unsightly nails and corns
Open Heel Shoes
Dry skin and painful cracks abound in the summer. They hurt and look bad. When skin is exposed to air it dries out. In socks and shoes, it stays moist. When we switch to open heel shoes, drying out is inevitable. Here are some ways to counteract this.
1. Wear thin socks around the house after having lathered an oily cream all over your feet (over night or for a few hours hanging around in the evening).
I like Gardener’s Dream Cream or any greasy cream with a bit of tea tree oil (watch out for allergies) and coconut oil added.
2. Coconut/tea tree oil foot soaks using a teaspoon of coconut oil and 2 drops of tea tree oil in a basin of warm water. Soak feet for 15 minutes.
3. Cover cracks with an occlusive dressing – ie. an adhesive bandage over an application of an ointment/vaseline type substance covering the crack.
If it doesn’t aggravate your skin, you can leave it on for 24 hours, then clean and repeat daily or change to a few times a week.
4. Stay hydrated.
Difficulty Finding Footwear that Take Orthotics
You will find far fewer shoes that take orthotics, and your orthotics will not work as well in flimsier summer type shoes. They may not work at all in slipper-type shoes or sandals.
If you wear orthotics and they help you a lot, avoid taking long walks on the beach without your orthotics. Re-occurrence of your symptoms is likely to occur. If you have an athletic device, consider getting a thin dress orthotic which will work better in the shoes of the season. You can Velcro the orthotics onto the flat part of the heel of the shoe to make it stay put (one side of Velcro on shoe insole where the heel contacts and the other side on the bottom of the orthotic).
I recommend: Barking Dog Shoes for reviews and recommendations of some of the best comfortable shoes for summer. They review shoes based on a variety of factors, including how comfortable they are for different conditions such as back pain, corns, calluses, bunions, etc. Ladysport is one of Vancouver’s finest stores with a wide selection of great summer shoes for orthotics. They also offer great service and expertise.
Unsightly Nails and Corns
The feet take a beating on many levels and they are prone to develop bony prominences that rub together and cause corns; thickened nails that sometimes develop a fungus infection, abrasions, lesions and pressure points that may also hurt. All of these conditions are in the realm of the podiatrist.
There are other conditions that can affect the nails, so you shouldn’t assume that a thick nail is fungal. A podiatrist can help you get an accurate diagnosis. Corns can be treated in many ways from surgery to padding to shoe modification.
Unsightly nails should be seen by a professional and can be treated in various ways from nail avulsion (removal of the nail under local anesthetic) to topical to oral medications. Nail polish can be helpful to camouflage.
Lastly, I recommend not obsessing too much about how your feet look. Most people aren’t looking at your feet. They would much rather look at the part of your body that doesn’t get smushed into a shoe all day long, ie. your face and smile.
FOOTNOTE: Beware of stores that tell you you don’t need your orthotics, you can wear these ….. (insert brandname) shoes which have orthotics built into them. Never is this true. They may have additional arch support, but they are never orthotics. Listen to your body. If you’re better off in your orthotics, find footwear that they will work in and every once in a while have fun at the beach, get the sand between your toes, and wear those strappy sandals that make you look goooooood.