Summer is synonymous with sun, sand, sea, and the great outdoors. And although it can feel blissful (and necessary in a work-from-home climate) participating in all the things, the season is also very hard on your feet. In the summer, feet are exposed to heat, humidity, UV damage, environmental aggressors, unsupportive footwear, and no footwear — causing dryness and damage. That’s why it’s so important to have a few foot care tips from podiatrists to help maintain healthy feet all year-round.
Think dry skin on your feet is no big deal? Consider this: “Untreated dry skin becomes hardened around the heels,” says Marcela Correa, a licensed medical pedicurist and owner of medical-grade pedicure business, Medi Pedi. “Combined with pressure applied on the soles of the foot, over a long period of time and on the same areas of the foot, the texture of our skin changes — becoming rough and causing discomfort and eventually cracking.”
Known in the medical world as fissures, these cracks can create pathways on the heels for infections like athlete's foot, calluses, and fungus. “Heels can become dry and cracked from natural aging, walking around barefoot, or wearing open back shoes that cause extra pressure on heels,” shares Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder of Tenoverten. “If heels are not properly treated, it could lead to eczema or athlete’s foot, and potential bleeding throughout the cracked skin.”
To keep your feet looking beautiful and crack-free, TZR spoke to three experts for their top summer foot care tips, plus more on why feet crack in the first place. The pros are even sharing some products that can treat already cracked feet that you’ll want to add into your routine ASAP. Trust them — it’s time to put as much effort in your foot care routine as your skin care routine.
Foot Care Tip #1: Soak Feet With Epsom Salt
Correa recommends soaking feet with an unscented epsom salt to help soften hardened skin and make it easier to file away. “Epsom salt is used to provide exfoliation of the dead skin to feet,” the pro shares. “The foot soak may help decrease roughness by breaking down the hardened skin, allowing for safe removal.”
Foot Care Tip #2: Avoid Super Hot Showers
Cracked and dry feet can also happen due to the natural aging process. As we age, the glands in the body don’t work as quickly and produce more oils. And similar to the skin on the face, elastin — the protein that impacts elasticity — decreases, causing increased dryness. Hot showers and soaps with harsh chemicals (like surfactants) will dry the skin on the feet, according to Donna Charloff, director of service operations for clean nail care pioneer MiniLuxe.
Foot Care Tip #3: Exfoliate Feet In The Shower
“Exfoliation is a powerful tool when trying to combat cracked summer soles,” says Dana Ward, founder and president of Barefoot Scientist. “It allows the shedding of excess, built-up dry skin, which ultimately allows hydrating formulations to better absorb so skin can generally feel softer and smoother.” Abramcyk recommends using a foot scrub once a week like The Sole Scrub to help revitalize and nourish skin. “Once you exit the shower, pat your feet dry and follow with a moisturizer such as The Sole Mate, a skin softening foot balm powered by beneficial oils, vitamins, and antioxidants to deliver a softening surge of moisture to cracked heels and dry soles,” the expert tells TZR.
Whatever moisturizer you use, it is important to look for vitamin E as that is a key ingredient in keeping heels in their best shape. You can follow up with a weekly foot file or pumice stone to slough off any additional dry skin. And if you do use the foot file, Correa encourages using an up and down motion instead of straight across the foot. “Up and down movement follows the natural cracks and curvatures of the skin, minimizing the chances of creating cracks or cuts.”
Foot Care Tip #4: Apply Lotion Directly After The Shower
The best time to apply creams and lotions to your feet is right after showering when pores are open — allowing the product to better penetrate into the soles. It’s also important to use a foot cream and not body lotion as thicker creams absorb better. “Most foot creams have ingredients like oils and urea to target dryness, cracks, and infections that body lotion does not,” Correa tells TZR.
And if your soles are really dry, Charloff recommends taking it one step further with by adding in a couple drops of cuticle oil like MiniLuxe Nourishing Cuticle Oil Dropper to your favorite foot balm for extra hydration.
Foot Care Tip #5: Don’t Skip Out On The SPF
By now you should be fully aware of the benefits of daily sunscreen: it protects from UVA and UVB rays, and reduces the signs of aging and skin cancer, to name a few. And while you are used to applying SPF on your face, neck, and arms, the same energy should be shared with your feet. As one of the most exposed areas during the summer, your feet will need just as much sun protection as your face to keep them protected.
Foot Care Tip #6: Invest In A Night Time Routine
Correa recommends moisturizing your feet everyday and pairing a heel protector at night with a foot cream or a medicated exfoliating cream like Tetra Kamea G. It will help to remove dead skin while you sleep and soften and moisturize the feet.
Foot Care Tip #7: Change Out Your Socks
If you do happen to wear socks and sneakers during the summer, the experts all recommend switching out your socks throughout the day. Feet trapped inside socks could cause sweating, inviting in bacteria and bad odor, and removing any moisture they had — causing dry skin and cracks.
Foot Care Tip #8: Sterilize Shoes
For open toe sandals or socks and sneakers, Correa suggests always sterilizing your shoes, especially during the summer, to eliminate all bacteria. The pro recommends UV shoe sterilizer to prevent and protect from harmful bacteria, fungal infections, and dryness.
Ready to invest in a solid foot care routine to prevent cracked heels? Below are some of the experts favorite products.
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