Summer tips for taking care of your toes

As we gear up for gardening and the warmer days ahead we all need to take special care to protect our feet. Wash, dry, inspect and apply lotion to your feet every day. Moisturizing your feet to avoid dry skin will help prevent heel fissures (cracks in the skin) provoked by wearing sandals. Wearing white, 100% cotton socks will not only show leakage from open sores that you may otherwise not see or feel, but the cotton will also absorb excess moisture, allowing your feet to breathe. Foot fungus loves sweaty skin: banish it by powdering your feet with baby or talcum powder after you moisturize, and before you put your socks on

Here are some protective steps to take before you heading outdoors: spray your feet, ankles and shoes with bug spray, and apply SPF 30 sunblock to avoid sunburn of your feet. When spending many hours outside make sure water, healthy snacks and shade are readily available, to ward off potential sun stroke. Always change wet socks, carry an extra pair, and never walk barefoot in public spaces as you could be putting yourself at risk of injury, or of catching bacteria or viral infections.

Make sure to inspect older foot wear by placing items on a surface where you can be at eye level and see from behind how the shoe sits on the table. If the heel is not in line with the toe or is leaning to one side or the other, your shoes have worn down and no longer give you the support your feet need. When shopping for new shoes and sandals make sure they have good heel support; straps as well as thick soles will absorb shock while you walk. Breathable soles and uppers will help to eliminate excess moisture and keep your feet dry.

Shop in the late afternoon/ early evening when feet are naturally swollen from the day’s labour; this will allow you to select the best size to accommodate such swelling. Breaking shoes in takes time and wearing new shoes for short periods of time will help to avoid breaking the skin. After buying your new shoes/sandals, wear them inside the house with socks for a week. This will tell you if your footwear really fits; if not, it can still be returned for a better choice.

Always suit the shoe to the activity e.g. ankle boots for hiking or gardening, runners/sneakers for walking or physical activity, and rubber boots for backyard work. Always shake out your footwear and inspect for inside damage before putting them on. As diabetes teaches us, knowledge is key. Knowing what to do and doing it promptly and regularly can prevent serious foot problems and help you keep your feet for a lifetime.

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