When it comes to getting summer-ready, too often our feet are the last priority.
Between purchasing a new swimsuit, crossing off a never-ending shopping list and finally getting around to giving the barbecue a good scrub -- by the time it’s warm enough to bear our toes -- we don’t, due to the Frodo-like condition they’re in.
But with less than five weeks to go until summer, you’re in good stead to ensure your feet get the TLC they deserve.
“We should think about the feet the same way we think about our face,” Pete Feain, a podiatrist told The Huffington Post Australia. “That means washing and moisturising daily, especially in summer when skin tends to get quite dry, leading to cracked skin and calluses.”
Feain recommends using a disposable nail brush to clean underneath your nails and between your toes in the shower and filing back any dead skin afterwards, when the skin is soft.
Disposable nail brushes can be purchased from a chemist and sorbolene cream or anything with Vitamin E can be used to moisturise with.
When it comes to nail length, both Feain and OPI Colour Ambassador, Melissa Giraldo, recommend short over long nails.
“You should be cutting them fortnightly or whenever they start to become uncomfortable in your shoes,” Giraldo said. “Be careful not to cut them too short and cut them straight across, no deeper than the nail bed and not rounded because the corners will grow into your skin and turn into ingrowns. If the corners are sharp, you can gently file them down,” Giraldo said.
However, if you’re unsure about the correct way to cut your nails it is important to check with a podiatrist.
“It’s always best to be on the shorter side. When you leave them too long, that’s when you’re going to get ingrown toenails and be more prone to infection,” Giraldo said.
When it comes to removing dead skin, Giraldo warns against over-using pumice stones.
“One of the biggest problems is over-exfoliating. If you take too much skin off it will become dry, and you will be more prone to calluses and hard skin,” Giraldo said.
Hard, dry skin as well as pressure on certain areas of the foot and friction can also lead to corns.
“Corns are a buildup of calluses which form into a nucleus -- or, a hard bead of dead skin that feels like a little stone on the foot,” Feain said.
For women who have discolouration on the nail itself due to wearing polish all year round, Giraldo urges the importance of giving your nails a two to three month break from polish during the cooler months.
“To prevent your nails from getting stained or turning yellow, in between colours, you need to make sure the toe nails are buffed and you’re using a base coat,” Giraldo said.
However, some people’s nails will always be stained even with a base coat and for those people, Giraldo recommends steering away from dark polishes that contain a lot of pigment -- like reds, plum and navy blue.
“If you go for something sheer and neutral, they are less likely to stain the nails,” said Giraldo.
Since most polishes contain chemicals that can dry the nail out, the area between the nail and polish itself can become a breeding ground for fungal infections.
“If you can buff out the discolouration or if it goes away after a week of giving your nails a break from the polish -- it’s not an infection. But if the yellowness or discolouration is still there, it’s more than likely there is an infection under the nail,” Giraldo said.
If there is infection there, Feain recommends filing the nail back and using an anti-fungal over the counter solution like Lamisil. In some cases, you may need a script for oral medication to get rid of the infection.
He believes polish should be used at a minimum and removed immediately after your event or outing.
Tips for getting your feet summer-ready
- Keep your toenails on the shorter side and cut them straight across. If you don’t know how to cut your nails properly, visit a podiatrist.
- Exfoliate your feet with an exfoliating cream twice a week and moisturise them daily -- twice a day if time permits. If you’re at the beach, give your feet a scrub with the salt water and sand.
- If you feel a blister coming on, get out of those shoes immediately. Apply an antiseptic like Betadine and dress it just as you would a wound.
- Ensure you’re wearing the correct fitting footwear, and try to wear thongs and barefeet at a minimum.