It’s summertime! If they aren’t already, many students will soon have some time off school for summer break! Many people like to go out of town, often to a beach somewhere. With this in mind, I would like to remind you to take some time and think about your feet, and how to protect them, while you are soaking up the sunshine.
Protect Your Feet from the Sun
Often, the foot is overlooked when it comes to applying sunscreen. Even if they don’t burn, they are being exposed to harmful UV rays. There are rare but deadly skin cancers that can occur on the feet, so make sure you apply sunscreen to both the tops and the bottoms of your feet when you are at the beach.
Be Aware of the Heat
Paved surfaces, sidewalks, and the sand can all get really hot in the sun. Wear shoes when walking around to keep the bottoms of your feet from getting burned. Sandals are okay, but you risk walking out of them. A water shoe or something that will stay on your foot is best.
Protect Yourself from Cuts and Puncture Wounds
Broken glass, seashells, and other sharp objects could potentially puncture or cut one of your feet when you are at the beach. If you do get a cut on your foot, stay out of the water. Bacteria in the oceans and lakes can cause an infection. Punctures are deeper than cuts and can cause more damage. You should have a puncture wound treated by a doctor within 24 hours to avoid any complications.
Watch for Jellyfish
A jellyfish can sting if you step on it, even when washed up on the beach, so watch your step. If you get jellyfish tentacles stuck to your foot or ankle, carefully remove them, protecting your hands from getting stung as well. Baking soda, meat tenderizer, or vinegar applied to the area can help reduce any pain and swelling. Usually, a jellyfish sting will heal within a few days, but if it doesn’t, see a doctor.
Watch Your Footing
It is not uncommon to experience arch and heel pain, or even injure your ankle when playing at the beach. The soft, uneven surface of the sand can give you an awkward gait and/or cause you to lose your footing easily. Consider wearing athletic shoes for extra cushioning and arch support that flip-flops lack. If you are injured, use the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method to help ease pain and swelling. If the injury does not resolve in a few days, you should have it examined.
Use Extra Caution If You Are Diabetic
If you suffer from diabetes, you face potential foot safety risks at the beach. Diabetes causes poor blood circulation and numbness in your feet. People who live with diabetes may not feel the pain from a burn, cut, or puncture wound. Skin breaks on a diabetic foot have the potential to get infected and ulcerate if it isn’t noticed and treated right away. If you live with diabetes, wear shoes at the beach and check them often for foreign objects that can cause sores, infections, and ulcers.
If you return from your beach vacation experiencing any foot or ankle pain or believe you may have an infection, please call us here at Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle as soon as possible. Our foot and ankle care doctors and surgeons are board-certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and are members of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and the American Podiatric Medical Association. Call (208) 855-5955 or request an appointment online.