What are the Most Common Foot Problems You See in the Summer as a Result of Hot Weather and Sandal Wearing?
The most common foot problems I encounter in the summer as a result of hot weather and sandal wearing are the following:
Athlete's Foot: Athlete's Foot is a fungal infection of the foot that develops commonly on the soles of the feet and in between the toes. It usually produces itchy, dry, scaling skin. In more severe cases, inflammation, cracks, and blisters may form. Athletes commonly suffer from sweaty feet and use the facilities where the fungus is found, thus the term "athlete's foot." We see a lot of these issues as a result of people walking barefoot in public places or at the gym. Walking barefoot is bad for your feet for a number of reasons. For one, it exposes your feet to bacterial and fungal organisms that can infect the skin and nails. These organisms can lead to infections that change the appearance, smell, and comfort of the foot.
Plantar Fasciitis: Your foot contains a thick band of tissue called plantar fascia that stretches from your heel to your toes. That tissue's job is to support the muscles and arch of your foot. Too much tension on the tissue can cause it to stretch too far, resulting in tiny tears that cause pain and inflammation. This happens frequently in the summer because people are drawn to flip flops or sandals – many of which don't have arch support. Flip flops and sandals without arch support allow your feet to flatten as your arch collapses which will cause arch and heel pain.
Nail Fungus: Nail fungus is a condition that occurs when a microscopic fungus enters one or more nails. This condition often begins as an infection in the skin, which is commonly referred to as athlete's foot. As the nail fungus penetrates deeper into the nail, it may cause the nail to discolor, thicken, and develop crumbling edges- an unsightly and potentially painful problem. Most people develop nail fungus as a result of walking barefoot in public places. This can be treated at home, but for extreme issues I suggest seeing a podiatrist who can likely solve this issue in a matter of weeks. Over the counter ointments can often take months to eliminate the fungus.
Plantar Warts: A wart is a thickened and elevated small growth of skin that develops when the skin becomes infected by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts can develop anywhere on the foot, but typically occur on areas of direct pressure under the foot, such as the ball and the heel. Hard and thick callus can grow over the wart lesions as they grow inward and make them more painful. Again, using contaminated utensils could put you at risk for warts. If this happens, I suggest seeing a podiatrist to help treat these issues immediately as they are contagious. If you walk barefoot in public – like at the pool or waterpark, you can catch warts as they are easily contagious.
What are the Top THree Tips For Keeping Your Feet Healthy Durinf the Summer?
Pay attention to changes on your feet. Check in regularly with the most used and most underappreciated parts of your body, pay attention to the color of your toenails, the quality of the skin around your heels and any changes to the shape of the foot. For example, yellow or brown and thickened nails are signs of fungal nails that can be easily treated by a Podiatrist. But, other colors could indicate larger health issues. For example, a black stripe on your nail could be a result of skin cancer, HIV or Lupus.
Rotate your shoes: Footwear rotation is important for everyone. Shoes need to air out in order to stop the breeding of bacteria and fungus to protect the health of your feet and also the durability of the shoe.
Use Lysol: I recommend spraying Lysol into your sneakers to help kill any microbes that may cross contaminate the outside environment to the inside of the shoe. Lysol disinfectant spray kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. I commonly inform my patients to use Lysol Spray to eliminate these germs by sanitizing their shoes, shoe inserts, and shower floors regularly.
What Shouldn't People Do to Their Feet During the Summer?
Don't walk barefoot (especially at the gym!): Walking barefoot on hard surfaces allows our foot to collapse which can lead to a tremendous amount of stress not only to the foot but to the rest of the body. Our feet naturally pronate during the gait cycle, however when we walk barefoot we pronate for a longer period of time which then alters the biomechanics and distribution of pressure and weight across the foot. This imbalance may increase the progression of underlying foot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes and lead to painful conditions associated with excessive pronation such as arch/ heel pain, shin splints/ posterior tibial tendonitis, and Achilles tendonitis. This imbalance can then translate upward affecting other parts of the body such as our knees and back. As mentioned above, walking barefoot also exposes our feet to bacterial and fungal organisms that can infect the skin and nails.
Ditch the flip flops. Okay, you can wear them for a short period, at the gym. But overall, walking with flip flops for prolonged periods of time allows our foot to collapse, impacting our gait and posture, which can lead to a tremendous amount of stress not only to the foot but to the rest of the body. This imbalance may increase the progression of underlying foot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes and lead to painful conditions associated with excessive pronation such as arch/ heel pain, shin splints/posterior tibial tendonitis, and Achilles Tendonitis.
Don't wear old socks: Similar to other clothing items, socks are used to provide a layer of warmth and protection between your skin and the outside surface. Once the socks have a hole from wear and tear, then it is time to replace it. Socks should be changed regularly to avoid unpleasant smells and athlete's foot (a fungal infection).
At Gotham Footcare in NYC, we strive at recognizing your individual needs and desired outcomes while formulating an effective and personalized treatment plan with the highest quality care available.
What sets Gotham Footcare apart from other podiatry offices is our dedication to providing you with the education you need to make well-informed decisions regarding your care. Regardless of what your foot and ankle trouble may be, at Gotham Footcare our team will work tirelessly to help you feel better. At Gotham Footcare, we help you put your best foot forward.