Sandal season is upon us, which means we're keeping our nails trimmed, trying our best to avoid chipped polish, and making sure our feet are soft and moisturized. But that lightweight summer lotion you use on your body may not cut it for your heels and soles where skin tends to be thicker, which is where foot ointments come into play.
“In summer, when we are barefoot or using things like open-heeled shoes, our skin can become very dry and cracked,” says Diane Koshimune, DMP, a podiatrist in San Jose, To get even the dryest of feet moisturized, she recommends pulling out the big guns—oil-based ointments. She says the best time to apply them to your feet is right after a soak. But if they are very dry and cracked, they may need to have some filing of the thickened, callused skin first. Do this in a bath or dedicated foot soak, using a pumice stone, for example, followed by a moisturizer, she says.
"After a bath or after soaking, the skin will have absorbed some water. This is when an oil-based ointment product such as Vaseline ($2) or Aquaphor ($7 to $14) would be great to seal in that hydration,” Dr. Koshimune says. Another product she recommends is called O'Keefe's Healthy Feet ($7) which contains glycerin that similarly locks in moisture.
If your feet are getting super dry often, Dr. Koshimune says to try moisturizing socks ($25) which usually have a gel layer that can be therapeutic. They're infused with moisturizing oils to deeply condition and soften your feet.
More than just aesthetics, keeping your feet moisturized can also benefit your overall foot health, according to Dr. Koshimue. "When the skin is appropriately moisturized, it glides on surfaces better," she says. "Dry skin is more grippy. Think about the example of a gymnast who would use chalk to dry out the skin in order to grip a surface like a bar. When the foot skin is dry, it grips the surfaces like shoes or the floor more, which can also lead to the rapid growth of things like calluses that add to discomfort when standing and walking. Thickened and callused skin can also fissure which could introduce things like bacterial and fungal infections to the tissue."
So next time you take a moment to slather your tootsies in a rich, hydrating moisturizer, remember that it’s more than just an act of self care—it’s helping you maintain optimal foot health, too.
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