July 21, 2015 | by Fred Hawley Jr. DPM, FACFAS

If wearing sandals, flip-flops, and going barefoot are part of your summer attire, here are a few tips to keep your feet healthy and happy through the warmer months.

According to the latest National Foot Health Assessment, 78 percent of adults age 21 and older have had at least one foot problem in their life. A major contributor to foot problems is shoes with little or no arch support, like flip-flops. Flip-flops are often thin and made from foam that does not provide proper foot support, especially for people with very low or very high arches. Wearing flip-flops when you plan to do a lot of walking or more active pursuits can also result in twisted ankles.

Podiatrists recommend sandals with multiple adjustable straps, a low heel, and proper arch support during the summer months. A good shoe will help relieve pressure and keep your feet in a comfortable, stable position. Look for sandals with a cushioned midsole and contoured foot bed. Also look for shoes with a bit of flexibility to provide extra support.

Avoid walking barefoot in public areas to reduce your exposure to plantar warts, athlete’s foot, and ringworm—common infections that can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact with shower and pool surfaces. You are also more likely to get these infections if you already have a compromised immune system. While flip-flops aren’t supportive walking shoes, they’re the perfect footwear for showering in public areas or using public pools and bathrooms.

Regularly moisturizing your feet is also recommended during sandal weather since they’re often exposed to sun and sand that can dry them out. Skip the scented lotions and try coconut oil, a safe and organic alternative with some antimicrobial properties. Rub your feet with a small amount of oil and put on a pair of socks before bed for super-soft feet in the morning.

Also remember to stay hydrated! Drinking water can help minimize foot swelling and improve your overall health.

Interested in learning more about how to keep your feet happy and healthy? Visit The Polyclinic’s Podiatry webpage or contact your primary care physician for a referral to a podiatrist at Ballard or Madison Center

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