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Clifton: Keep your feet happy, healthy this summer

Treating your feet right this summer can ease a lot of discomfort.

Sunny skies and beautiful days at the beach always tempt you to enjoy the white sand under your feet. We often wonder how much harm can be done if we swim without precaution?

Is walking on the beach or swimming barefoot really bad for us?

Let’s see what these tips tell us about skin-care.

Can I skip shoes on the beach?

Well, it depends. If you are a person that does not have complications with your feet, then you can generally spend the day walking barefoot on the beach, but you may want to check with your health care provider before you go to the beach.

Remember, in the sand there are rocks, shells and other sharp objects that usually hide.

If you have a loss sensation in your feet (neuropathy – nerve damage), covering your feet is critical, because you can walk on an object and not realize that you cut or bruised your feet.

Hurting your feet can cause infection and exposure to bacteria that can result in the loss of a toe or foot.

When you are going outside or to the beach, slip on a pair of sneakers, sandals or your favorite footwear that is secure and enclosed on your feet so you will have the support that is needed to keep from injuring your feet.

What precautions should I take when swimming?

Before you get into the water, check your feet for cracks, cuts, blisters or other wounds.

If you have any of these, please stay out of the water because pools, lakes, rivers and oceans harbor dangerous bacteria that can cause a foot infection.

How often should I do a foot check?

At least once a year, unless you spot a change in color or condition of the skin on your feet.

You can check your feet daily to make sure you don’t have any cuts or bruises before an annual visit to your podiatrist.

Can my feet get sunburned?

Yes, absolutely!

If you have type 2 diabetes and are taking sulfonylureas or certain blood pressure meds, you have a higher risk of getting sunburned.

The easiest way to show your feet some love this summer is to put sunscreen on anytime you are outdoors or wearing sandals.

Making sure that you are covered, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside and reapply every two hours if you are sweating or swimming.

Wearing sunscreen on cloudy days is also important because you can still get sunburned.

What can I do about dry, cracked or scaly heels?

Apply a cream that is specially formulated to moisturize the skin, mainly after bathing, when your feet are clean and dry.

No special moisturizer is required; any moisturizer will work.

Never rub lotion or moisturizer between your toes, because this area usually stays warm and moist. Putting lotion or moisturizer in these areas can cause fungus.

Ok, if you have taken all the precautions stated earlier, the only thing to do is HAVE FUN!

Cynthia Clifton is an LSU AgCenter extension agent and general nutrition agent for St. John the Baptist Parish. She can be reached at 985-497-3261 and cclifton@agcenter.lsu.edu.