Protecting your feet in summer heat

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Summer can take quite a toll on toes. Anyone who’s ever sustained a sandal-related blister or stepped on a bee while running barefoot through the sprinklers can attest to the potential perils summertime has for your feet. Just like almost everyone knows to drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated, and to apply sunscreen before heading outside to combat sunburn, there are some common-sense rules to live by in order to keep feet in working order during summer months. Dr. Amanda Matz, an Auburn podiatrist, said it’s important to keep proper footwear in mind when it’s hot outside. “There’s no such thing as a great flip-flop,” Matz said. “If you’re going to wear them, look for something with a decent arch. Make sure the foot fits (on the foot bed of the shoe). Make sure it has a nice structure to it.” In other words, the cheap, buy-one-in-every-color flip-flops have got to go. Flip-flops are good for quick on-and-off—shuffling around poolside, for example — but in general, flip flops and other sandals aren’t meant for long-term wear. Matz said brands like Montrail and Rainbow offer more support and structure than the typical flat, rubber flip-flop. But instead of flip-flops, Matz suggests wearing water sandals by brands like Teva or Chaco, which provide more structure for summertime activities. She’s also a fan of sandals produced by Dansko, Naot and Keen. “There’s research that goes into those shoes. That’s why it costs a little bit more,” she said. Pretty much any shoe is better than no shoe, Matz said. “I think going barefoot is dangerous because you don’t want to step on glass or a little piece of metal,” she said. And no matter what kind of shoe, or if you’re going barefoot, don’t forget sunscreen — feet aren’t immune to sunburn and skin cancer. One place sandals and flip-flops aren’t welcome is The Boys & Girls Club of Auburn, where youth must wear shoes with laces in order to participate in summer camp activities. “Every morning, when they check in, we do a dress code check for proper shoes. If they’re not right, they don’t get checked in until they are,” said Jackie Pishke, summer camp director. “We want something with a good rubber sole. We run and we play. As long as they can kick without it sliding off, it’s OK.” Breaking shoes in little by little is a good idea during warm weather, Matz said. Without the protection of socks, blisters tend to pop up. Above all, don’t pop blisters, Matz said. Be sure to wash the area, apply an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin, and cover the blister with a bandage. “It’s not the blisters that are scary. It’s the infections that are scary,” Matz said. Blisters are just one malady for summertime feet. Just ask anyone working at the Sierra Pool over at Recreation Park. Between exposure to chlorinated pool water and walking on the pavement, with or without sandals, day after day, feet can take a beating. “Your heels can get pretty dry,” said Patti Waskowiak, Auburn Recreation District aquatics coordinator. Waskowiak said putting lotion on your feet, and putting on thin socks before bed helps restore some of the moisture lost after a long day at the pool. Pedicures are also a popular summertime pampering technique. If you’re showing your feet, you might as well put your best buffed and polished foot forward. “It’s probably our most popular service during summer months,” Nancy Medeiros, Visions Salon manager, said of pedicures. Matz said to make sure to go to a salon that has a good reputation, and one that cleans its equipment between procedures, and uses a clean file every time. Elizabeth Foxworthy, one of four state-licensed manicurists working at Visions, prefers using emery boards when giving pedicures, and either disposes of the file at the end of the pedicure or gives it to the customer. Foxworthy said the salon uses California State Board of Cosmetology-mandated disinfectants, and that logs are kept to document clean up and sterilization after each pedicure. Disinfectants are used on all implements, Foxworthy said. Also, whether it’s done at home or in a salon, keep in mind that the proper way to cut toenails is to cut straight across, not at an angle. “I’ve had three people in the past couple weeks who have had ingrown toenails from pedicures,” Matz said.