It’s time to cast off heavy socks and boots in favor of open-toed shoes and sandals. As your feet emerge from hibernation, consider these following tips for summer foot care.

Sporting sandals?

Stability, support, and protection should be top-of-mind when you’re sandal shopping. Look for a sandal with a low, stable sole and a heel cup that allows it to remain properly aligned on your foot while you walk. A toe cap will keep your toes from being stubbed. And don’t forget arch support, which helps distribute pressure evenly and makes sandals more comfortable.

What about flip-flops?

They’re everywhere, and while they may have a limited place in your warm-weather wardrobe, flip-flops should not be worn as an everyday summer shoe. Flip-flops provide zero support for your feet and ankles, and their structure leaves you open to toe stubs and ankle injuries. Limit your flip-flop use to the poolside or for short strolls up the block. Never wear them on uneven terrain.

Pass the sunscreen.

When you’re slathering on sunscreen everywhere else, remember your feet need sun protection, too. The upper surface of the foot generally lies perpendicular to the rays of the sun when standing. This positioning makes your feet susceptible to more ultraviolet radiation than other parts of the body.

Creams generally are a better option than spray-on sunscreens, which may not cover all areas of your feet well enough. Rub sunscreen liberally over the tops and sides of the feet, as well as in between toes. Remember to reapply sunscreen to feet and legs throughout the day, especially after swimming.

Open shoes equal dirt and dryness.

Ever notice how much dirt and sand accumulate on your feet when you’re wearing sandals or going barefoot? Clean feet resist infections, so wash your feet regularly and carefully, including in between your toes. Dry thoroughly with your own towel, not a towel you share with others. If dryness develops, apply moisturizer to the soles and the tops of your feet.

Some pre-pedicure advice.

Before heading to the salon, inspect your feet. If you find cracked skin, cuts, or blisters, you should delay your visit until the skin is healed. These skin problems can provide an entry point for bacteria, which could lead to infection. Most nail salons are careful about cleaning footbaths between clients, but any bacteria left behind can cause infections in open skin.

Watch those bare feet.

When you’re at the beach, avoid walking barefoot along rocky shores or uneven surfaces. It’s easy to cut or bruise your feet or ankles when wading. And if you’re taking to the woods or wild grassy areas, cover your feet and legs with shoes and socks to prevent ticks from attaching to bare skin. Some ticks carry Lyme disease, and covering up on hikes can help protect you.

Tips for kids

Foot hygiene can be challenging for children in summer, especially if they wear sneakers without socks. Going sockless can create a breeding ground for bacteria inside kids’ shoes. Encourage your kids to wear lightweight socks, or try light summer shoes with mesh uppers that can be easily washed to control bacteria growth and odor.

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