Sandal-ready feet: top tips for toes, heels and everything in between

As the weather warms up, it’s time to show your feet to the world again in summer sandals or barefoot on the beach.

It may have been a while since your feet saw were out in the daylight, so here are five simple tips for keeping your toenails and skin healthy and looking their best. If you have any concerns about your toenail, areas of broken skin, or are diabetic, please consult us first for specialist advice and foot care services.


Apply sunscreen to your feet

After months in socks and shoes, it feels so good to warm your bare feet in the sun again. However, after months of being inside socks and shoes, the skin on your feet needs to be protected from summer sun just as much as any part of your body.

The tops of your feet will be exposed to a lot of UV radiation when you are walking about in sandals or flip-flops. The skin on your feet needs to be protected as:

“Prolonged and intense exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, including regular exposure without adequate protection, increases the risk of developing melanoma and other forms of foot skin cancer.”

Apply a high factor waterproof sunscreen all over your feet to protect the skin. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that you reapply sunscreen around every two hours:

“Throughout the day, especially after swimming, sweating or toweling off – water-resistant sunscreen only works for 40 or 80 minutes, depending on the label.”


Always file your nails straight across

According to Vogue magazine, the quickest way to make your toenails look professionally groomed is to file them straight across. Vogue recommends using a glass (crystal) nail file as:

“It’s simple to use, lasts forever, hygienic and helps to promote healthy growth of the nail, whilst also sealing the nail tip.”

Filing straight across is also a healthy way to trim nails, as it reduces the risk of developing ingrowing toenails. The US National Center for Biotechnology Information (!) says it’s important to:

“Cut your toenails straight across, leaving them long enough so that the corners lie loosely against the skin at the sides.”

It may surprise you that ingrowing toenails is a common problem amongst our younger patients here at Hunt Foot Care. If let unattended, an ingrown toenail can become sore and infected, so it’s best to act quickly. For more information, including details of our ‘walk in walk out’ ingrown toenail surgery, see our page on ingrown toenails.


Moisturize your feet

As podiatrists we are quick to advise the importance of keeping your feet clean and dry by changing wet socks and footwear, and towel-drying feet carefully. However, all that sweating and washing can actually dry out the skin on your feet, as will exposure to the sun (even with suncream applied).

So, take a little time each day to moisturise your feet, which will in turn reduce the build-up of hard skin. Moisturising before bed or first thing in the morning after bathing with a dedicated foot moisturiser will help keep your feet’s skin supple and softer.


Fight that toenail fungal infection

According to a paper published in 2022, 6.7% of Canadians have a toenail infection, although others estimate it at around 1 in 10 of us. That figure rises to around 20% of those aged 70+.

Toenail fungus, also known as tinea unguium or onychomycosis, gets between your toenail and your toenail bed. It feeds on keratin, a protein which is found in your nails. This fungal infection usually causes your nail to change colour, thicken and possibly become misshapen. The toenail can often lift away from the nail bed underneath. The result is an unsightly toenail that is prone to damage, chipping and cracking.

The good news is that both thickening nails (onychauxisis) and fungal nail infections (onychomycosis) are treatable by our teams at any of our three foot clinics. Just call to make an appointment and start your treatment in good time for the summer vacation.


Avoid contact with toenail fungus

As the Cleveland Clinic so succinctly put it, “Nail fungi like warm, moist, dark places.” So, to try and avoid catching the fungus in the first place:

  • Always wear flip-flops when using public showers, locker rooms and swimming pools. This also applies if someone on your home has a fungal nail infection and you share a shower.
  • Trim your toenails carefully to avoid damaging the skin, and clean your nail manicure scissors, files and clippers in between uses.
  • Wear shoes that fit correctly and are not too tight. If your socks or shoes get wet, wash your feet, dry them carefully, and put on fresh clean socks. Ensure your footwear is fully dried out before wearing again, otherwise the insides of your shoes will be warm, damp and dark…

If you are diabetic or have a medial condition affecting your feet, always consult a professional for foot care advice and services tailored to your specific requirements. At Hunt Foot Care. we’re always happy to help – just call and make an appointment with the team.


Healthy feet year-round with Hunt Foot Care

Our three Ontario foot care clinics are happy to help with any aspect of foot health. Simply call us and make an appointment:

Published On: June 30, 2024