How to Take Care of Your Feet This Summer: Six Helpful Tips

A woman wearing flip flops hangs her legs over the edge of a pier

Summer is a season of freedom for your feet!

Whether you’re digging them into the sand at the beach or splashing them in the water at the pool, your feet will be plenty busy this summer.

We know that summer brings with it special precautions we should all take to stay healthy and safe, including staying hydrated and limiting physical activity during the hottest parts of the day.

We should also take proactive measure to make sure we keep our feet safe in the summer.

After all, you don’t want an injury or foot pain to keep you from enjoying everything a South Shore summer has to offer!

Here are five summer care tips to keep your feet at their best.

1. Don’t skip your feet when applying sunscreen.

Sunscreen is an essential part of safely enjoying outdoor activity in the summer, and most people will apply it without second thought.

Too often, people will skip their feet when applying their preferred SPF — some people forget, while others figure their feet won’t be exposed enough for it to be a problem.

However, if the UV index is particularly high, a sunburn can develop in as little as ten minutes of sun exposure!

If you think about your average day at the beach or pool, your feet are pretty much guaranteed to be exposed to the sun for longer than that.

As a result, be sure to liberally apply sunscreen to your feet prior to any activity where you’ll be barefoot for an extended period of time.

Make sure you get your ankles and the backs of your feet, and be sure to reapply after going swimming.

Additionally, don’t forget to remove your flip-flops or sandals before applying sunscreen — you don’t want a sandal-shaped sunburn!

2. Limit the time you spend walking barefoot.

Being barefoot can be one of the best parts of summer, as it lets you be a bit more carefree and really get in touch with the sand or water.

And while being barefoot is fine, you should try to avoid overdoing it.

Walking around barefoot increases the risk of injury, especially in the summer – oftentimes, surfaces like parking lots or boardwalks are a lot hotter than they may appear, and you don’t want to risk a burn on the bottom of your feet.

Additionally, spending a lot of time barefoot increases your risk of things like bacterial infection, ringworm, and plantar warts.

Wear shoes, flip-flops, or sandals when walking on any shared, high-traffic surfaces, like pool decks, hotel hallways, and bathrooms.

3. Break in your sandals gradually

Along with skipping sunscreen, hopping right into new sandals is one of the more common summer foot mistakes.

It’s understandable to be excited to wear your new sandals – after all, your feet have been cooped up inside boots and sneakers for months once sandal season arrives!

However, like boots and sneakers, new sandals should be broken in gradually to avoid injuring your feet.

People will often put on new sandals ahead of a long day at the beach or before heading out to explore on vacation and end up with painful blisters from the straps.

These occur when the straps, which are still stiff from being so new, apply uncomfortable pressure to the surface of the foot.

When possible, try to wear your new sandals for short spells at the beginning (even if it’s just walking around at home) until they’re more broken in.

This will allow the sandals to loosen a bit and to adjust to the shape of your foot, reducing the risk of blisters.

4. Dry your feet before putting on your shoes.

While flip-flops and sandals may be the seasonal trend in summer footwear, many people will put their shoes or sneakers back on after leaving the beach or pool.

If you do, make sure you dry your feet thoroughly before putting your shoes or socks back on.

Keeping your feet dry will help prevent the growth of bacteria or fungus, which will, in turn, help prevent foot odor as well.

5. Think of your feet when planning your activities.

Different summer activities will require different things of your feet – after all, you’ll need different footwear for a day at the beach than you will for a day of hiking.

When mapping out your summer activities, think ahead about what you’ll be asking your feet to do, then plan accordingly.

This will help make sure your feet are ready for whatever you throw at them.

For example, if you’re going to a water park, you’ll want to bring flip-flops and water shoes; if you’re going on a hike, pack an extra pair of socks.

Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to pack a back-up pair of socks and sneakers, just in case.

At worst, they’re extra supplies you didn’t need; at best, they can help save you from a soggy trip home.

6. Be prepared with foot-care products.

Whether you’re heading out on a day trip or off to a rental house for a week, it’s always a good idea to bring first aid supplies.

Along with the normal first aid supplies, pack a few extra items that will help take care of your feet.

Such items include:

  • Blister pads
  • Toenail clippers
  • Emery boards
  • Pumice stones
  • Aloe vera

Multiple members of our Podiatry Team contributed to this blog post. Learn more about Podiatry at South Shore Health.