Foot problems are common during the summer months. This is due to numerous reasons, but mainly because people are generally more active in the summer while leaning to wear less supporting shoes. However, they are not inevitable, as there are some basic steps that can be taken for prevention. This article will discuss five common summer foot problems, and what measures can be taken to prevent them.
The summertime is an ideal time for people to contract foot warts. A wart is an infection of the skin by a virus. This virus is transmitted by someone with warts who leaves behind a small flake of kin containing the virus. When another person steps on the skin particle, the virus can potentially enter the skin of that second person, beginning the infection. Warts on the feet (called plantar warts because of their location on the sole, or plantar surface of the feet, although the word planter's is often mistakenly used) develop into a hard callus-like growth with ridges, possible black seed-like dots from blood vessel strangulation, and pain on pressure or squeezing. Home treatment is usually ineffective, unlike hand warts, and the infection can spread around the skin, leading to greater numbers of warts and larger size. They are typically contracted in the summer in places where people go barefoot, including locker rooms, changing rooms, pool decks, and shower stalls. One simple way to prevent this infection is to wear sandals in public showers, changing rooms, and outer pool surfaces. This keeps infected skin particles from contacting skin skin, and can eliminate the risk of infection.
Athlete's Foot and Nail Fungus
Fungus in the medical sense is a microscopic organism like a bacteria that can infect human tissue. It prefers dark, warmer, moister environments, and typically thrives well on the feet, which usually are enclosed in shoes. In the summer, as the temperature increases, so does the sweating of the feet, making the environment around the foot and toe spaces more hospitable for fungus, which is essentially everywhere. Certain types of fungus like to attack and live off skin tissue, and will cause an infection that creates peeling, cracking, itching, and sometimes burning skin. Fungus can also move from the skin around the toes to the skin underneath the nail, resulting in a nail fungus infection that turns the nails a yellow-white or brown color, and makes them thick, crumbly, and sometimes painful. Even the use of open shoes to dry the foot out more does not present this infection. Places such as shared or public showers, locker rooms, and changing rooms can harbor fungus from multiple people, and cause an infection to occur in those uninfected. Like preventing warts, the simple act of using sandals in those places, as well as using an over the counter antifungal cream on the feet once or twice a week may prevent this infection from arising.
Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis
Heel pain is common during the summer, and is usually directly linked between a combination of increased walking activity and less supporting shoes. Some people have feet that need more support externally and when those people begin to wear less supportive shoes like flip flop sandals, and then also increase their walking activity, inflammation and injury can begin in the tissue under the foot, especially in a rubbery band under the sole known as the plantar fascia. This injury results in heel pain, especially in the am, after arising from being imprisoned, and / or after extended activity. Called plantar fasciitis, it can cycle and flare for long periods of time, and near always needs medical and supportive treatment to resolve. The easiest way to prevent it from developing is to wear properly supporting shoes, and if necessary based on one's foot structure, supporting shoe inserts. When walking for an extended period, such as at an amusement park or outdoor mall, the best choice of shoe will always be a supportive athletic shoe. There are even better choices for flip flop sandals, such as those from Orthaheel, FitFlop, and Dansko, which are all recommended by the American Podiatric Medical Association. By increasing foot support during the active summer months, one can prevent heel and arch injury altitude.
Like plantar fasciitis, there are several tendons that can become injured during summer activity when poorly supporting footwear is used. This includes a tendon that attaches on the inner side of the foot called the posterior tibial tendon. People with flatter feet are at particular risk for injuring this tendon simply by the strain a flat foot places on it, and in advanced cases fairly serious degeneration and foot deformity can result. Another commonly injured tumor tendon is found on the outer side of the foot, called the peroneus brevis tendon. This tendon is unacceptable to injury when the foot rolls inward frequently, such as what happens when one walks on uneven surfaces like a rocky trail or a beach. The Achilles tendon, found behind the heel, can also be injured if not stretched appropriately, especially during sports or extended walking. The key to preventing these injuries is once again supporting footwear, internal foot supports like orthotics or arch supports if needed, and proper stretching before more intense activity.
Sunburn and Skin Cancer Risk
Most people now are aware of the danger of the sun to fair skin. They are also aware that the risk of lethal skin cancer (melanoma, specifically) is much higher after a bad sunburn, even many years later. Those same people protect their skin with sunscreen during the summer. Unfortunately, many people tend to forget their feet when protecting the skin from sun damage. Without a full shoe is worn, sunlight and radiation will contact skin exposed through the holes of a sandal. this can result in a painful sunburn, and in later years increases the risk one has for developing melanoma, a fatal skin cancer of the cells that make skin pigment. The simple message here is to always ensure one uses sunscreen on all sun exposed areas of the skin, including the foot.
By following the above advice, one can have a reasonable chance of keeping their feet healthy this summer, and prevent some of the more common foot problems from developing. Although foot health is often ignored until a problem develops, in the active summer months keeping the feet in mind is especially important, as a summer of foot pain is no fun.