Summertime foot health

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The sun is shining and inviting all of us to enjoy the warm weather as summer draws near. As we get back to our favorite summer activities, sandals and flipflops become the go-to for footwear, but the switch can often come with some unfortunate problems. Cracked heels, blisters and infections are a few of the dangers our feet face this time of year. The Rapid City Medical Center Podiatry department wants to make sure you are on the right foot for summertime fun.

One of the most common problems our feet face during spring and summer is heel pain. For children, the increased activity in the warmer months can cause inflammation in growth plates, while adults often experience pain from plantar fascia, inflammation along major ligaments. “Heel pain can be treated with exercises and shoe inserts,” says Dr. Jennifer Ryder, podiatrist at Rapid City Medical Center, “but if you have not improved with supportive shoes and stretching, it may be time to seek professional care.”

The temptation to walk through the grass or sand barefoot can be irresistible, but Dr. Ryder says that viruses, fungi and bacteria can take advantage of an unprotected foot. Infection can come in common forms like warts or athlete’s foot, which can usually be treated with over the counter medication, but you should seek professional care if it remains after a few weeks of treatment.

Warts are caused by a virus and can be spread by walking barefoot in an area where others have walked barefoot, like pools, locker rooms and even through security at the airport. And if your shoes ever get wet it is important to make sure they are completely dry before you put them on again in order to prevent bacterial or fungal growth.

The easiest way to avoid many foot problems this summer is to focus on the footwear you choose to wear. Limiting how often you wear unsupportive sandals and flipflops can go a long way in maintaining foot health. “Luckily there have been sport sandals developed over the past decade or so that can feel almost like sneakers,” Dr. Ryder says. These sandals will allow you to comfortably enjoy your favorite activity while offering important support other sandals lack. Even with supportive sandals, our feet can still face another common problem — dry, cracked skin.

Dr. Ryder recommends using a moisturizer with a glycerin or shea butter base to keep feet healthy and hydrated if you are experiencing dry skin. For callused or cracked skin, a urea-based ointment or cream may be your best option, and extremely flaky skin may be treated with a lactic acid product. And as you go throughout the summer months, remember to protect your feet with sunscreen and remember to apply more if your feet get wet.

If your summer plans are ever in danger of being ruined by a foot problem, Dr. Ryder encourages you to make an appointment with a podiatrist. “We specialize in foot disorders and can oftentimes provide relief the same day.”


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