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Beach-Bound Foot Facts

Helpful Hints to Get Your Feet Ready for Summer

NEW YORK (Jun 1, 2007)

A winter of wearing tight-fitting shoes or boots can wreak havoc on your feet and make you think twice before putting on scanty sandals or going barefoot.

"Unlike the rest of the body, people seem to neglect their feet throughout most of the year and, therefore, can encounter a host of problems that become compounded once the summer arrives," says Dr. Giuseppe Militello, a dermatologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

Here is Dr. Militello's prescription for preparing your tired treads for summer fashion:

  • Treat corns and calluses. These hard, thickened areas of skin can be treated with warm soaks and sloughed off with a pumice stone. Corns can be removed by a podiatrist. Avoid over-the-counter treatments that contain acid, as they can burn skin or cause ulcers.
  • Don't forget cracked heels. These are not only unsightly but are prone to infection. Exfoliating products, such as an alpha-hydroxy acid, are recommended for treating cracked heels.
  • Watch out for ingrown toenails. First, soak your feet in warm water with a few pinches of ordinary table salt. Then gently push the skin away from the nail with a moist washcloth or towel. File the ingrown nails with a clean, new emery board, apply antibiotic ointment, and cover with a bandage. If the ingrown toenail persists, or if it is too painful to treat yourself, consult a physician.
  • Athlete's foot is easily treated. To avoid developing athlete's foot in the first place, do not go barefoot in public areas. Swimming pools, locker rooms, and saunas are havens for germs. Wear rubber sandals in wet places and dry your feet thoroughly – especially between the toes – after you shower. An over-the-counter anti-fungal cream is effective in treatment of athlete's foot, however, if it does not get better, consult your dermatologist.
  • If you suspect the possibility of toenail fungus it is reasonable to try a topical antifungal preparation for a few weeks. If there is no response, it is advisable to contact your dermatologist to confirm the diagnosis of a fungus infection or other possible nail disorders.

Dr. Militello offers these tips to maintain healthy-looking feet all year round:

  • Soak feet regularly in a warm salt-water solution and follow with pumice treatment of heels and calluses.
  • At night, apply moisturizing cream or lotion to clean feet. Mint and menthol-infused creams are excellent soothers for tired feet.
  • Before bedtime, give your feet a well-deserved massage by kneading the sole of each foot with your thumbs. Be sure to include the instep and toes.
  • Wear shoes that are well-cushioned, substantially soled, and comfortable.

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Phone: (212) 821-0560.
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