Getting attractive, fresh-smelling summer feet often requires more than a pedicure. Between chafing sandals, thick, callused skin from going barefoot and a build-up of bacteria and odours, our feet (while happy to be out of boots) aren’t always at their prettiest during the hotter months. Here are some simple ways to combat blisters, calluses and odour, along with a few products to try:
Is there anything worse than breaking out a new pair of sandals only to discover they’re beating up your feet? Blisters are more common in the spring and summer than the winter months, and not only because shoes are strappier. Sweat can add to the slipping and rubbing of straps, leading to more blisters.
A blister is formed from repeated friction. First a red spot occurs, then after more friction, a small tear happens between the layers of skin. Your body reacts by sending fluid to the tear in an attempt to protect your vulnerable skin. This is why you shouldn’t pop or drain a blister unless absolutely necessary. That liquid is there to protect you from infection. When you drain a blister, as you probably know, the skin gets very dry and red. It’s basically an open sore.
Prevent blisters by first making sure that your shoes fit correctly. Of course, even your favourite flip flops from last summer can give you blisters this year because you’re just not used to wearing them. To prevent blisters, apply an anti-chafing product like Body Glide’s Foot Glide Blister Resister Balm under and around straps. Body Glide can be purchased at running, outdoor and general sporting goods stores across the country.
If you’ve already got a blister and can’t walk around barefoot, protect it with a bandage made specifically for blisters, like Band-Aid Advanced Healing Blister Cushioning Gel Pads.
Calluses are common on areas of the feet (and hands and other body parts) that are prone to lots of friction or pressure and they are similar to blisters but are often less painful.
You’ll probably develop calluses or a thick build up of dead skin on your feet if you wear flip flops or loose-fitting sandals that move around under your feet. Calluses that are very thick can become painful and in general, they don’t look all that great — although, if you’re the kind of person who likes to go barefoot outdoors, callused feet might help prevent injury from stepping on sharp sticks and stones!
Prevention is really about the footwear you choose (or don’t choose) but regular treatment of calluses can also keep them at bay. Treat calluses by soaking feet in warm water for 20 minutes then scrubbing with a pumice stone or brush. Follow with a thick, moisturizing cream like The Body Shop Spa Wisdom Africa Honey Beeswax Hand and Foot Butter.
Or, for a more aggressive approach, skip the soak and use the Micro Pedi on the callused parts of your feet, particularly dry soles. The Micro Pedi sloughs off dry skin and after a week of buffing and applying lotion, you’ll notice a huge difference.
Sweat is actually odourless; it’s bacteria that causes odour. In other parts of your body, bacteria feed on the proteins caused by sweat but on your feet, there are two types of bacteria, one that feeds on dead skin cells and another that feeds on an amino acid found on the skin. Both produce unpleasant scents and both thrive in moist environments, like sweaty socks or shoes. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get stinky feet while wearing sandals, sweat and bacteria can get trapped inside the fabric and soles of sandals, too.
If you’re wearing sneakers or closed-toe shoes in the summer, get rid of unpleasant odour by sprinkling shoes and feet with a foot powder like Dr. Scholl’s Odour Destroyers All Day Foot Powder. You can also try basic baking soda if you don’t find that you have extreme odour issues. When you take your shoes off at night, sprinkle in more powder and let them dry out. If possible, wash them once a week. Many sneakers are machine washable. If you can’t throw them in the wash, pour some rubbing alcohol inside or just swipe the insides of shoes with alcohol.
Regularly treating feet for calluses and dry skin can also help. Try Bliss Foot Patrol, an exfoliating foot cream that breaks down calluses and includes refreshing, antibacterial peppermint oil.
Follow these foot refreshing tips for soft, odour- and pain-free feet this summer!