Spring Foot Health: Put Your Best Foot Forward
The colder weather is quickly becoming a distant memory. As the warmer months kick in, we find ourselves coming out of our self-induced winter cocoons to partake in the fun and socialising that comes with Shanghai’s summer. With a change of season comes a change in the types of problems that podiatrists see on a regular basis. Following are a few of the common ones, with some easy pointers to prevent your feet from becoming a drag over the warmer months.
Flip-flops and Cracked Heels
Warm weather encourages us to finally kick off those big boots and slip into something a little cooler. Unfortunately, in order to find a shoe that will allow our feet to breathe we often sacrifice support and protection in the process.
One of the worst offenders for this are the well-loved flip-flops. Flip-flops are great for giving the feet a chance to breathe; however, they are possibly one of the worst things to wear on your feet if you require stability or support.
In addition, flip-flops cause additional frictional forces at the heels. This can stimulate the development of a callus or hard skin build-up. Also, the exposed heel has a tendency to lose moisture and dry out – a perfect recipe for thick, dry, cracked heels.
Tip: Using a heel balm that contains ‘urea’ on a regular basis may help to reduce the severity of cracked heels. Try not to wear flip flops for long periods of time or when very active/walking long distances (especially on the Shanghai streets).
Tinea Pedis/Athlete’s Foot
Another foot condition that becomes more prevalent in the hotter weather is Tinea Pedis, commonly known as Athlete’s Foot. Tinea is an infection that affects the bottom of the feet, as well as in between the toes. The foot will often present as red and itchy, with skin that may be irregularly thickened, flaky, or broken. As such it can be a very uncomfortable condition.
Tinea originates as a fungal infection of the skin, and is fairly common. The important feature to remember is that fungal infections enjoy a warm, moist environment; so being stuck in hot, sweaty work shoes for fourteen hours a day will create an environment that is perfect for its growth.
Tip: If you suffer from a tinea infection, allow your feet some time to breathe. Wear socks and shoes that are made from natural fibres rather than synthetics. You may need to dispose of your socks (and possibly, shoes) if the infection is particularly bad. Finally, your podiatrist can assist you with arranging an appropriate topical antifungal to help with management.
The warmer weather brings about many opportunities to get out and dress up. Be kind to your feet by ensuring that you’re wearing shoes that are, at the very least, the right size for you. Shoes that are too tight or too loose will cause blisters, ingrown nails, and pain.
High heels can be particularly troublesome. Be wary that by significantly raising your heels you shift your centre of gravity forward; placing more pressure on the balls of your feet and reducing your centre of balance.
Tip: Wear high heels in moderation. If you’re on your feet for long periods of time you will thank yourself for having the foresight to wear something that is practical for the occasion.
Scott focuses on both conservative and surgical treatment of painful conditions of the foot ( in-grown nails, painful corns, callus). He also specialises in athletic and sports injuries. Click here to schedule a consultation in the Lifestyle Center – Xintiandi .