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June 10th, 2009

How to Protect Your Feet at the Beach

It’s been quite a while since humans had feet tough enough to withstand the natural environment. Our ancestors’ feet were huge, hairy, and hard.  Ancient humans could withstand the pressure of walking barefoot on hard surfaces thanks to a tough layer of built-up callouses.  Now, because they are almost always protected by shoes, our feet are soft, narrow, and offer very little protection against the natural environment.  As beach season approaches, it’s important to know how to protect your feet when you do decide to go sans footwear. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind at the beach, via the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons:

  • Brea by A. MarinelliLook out for glass and other hazards. Don’t let sharp seashells and discarded glass ruin your day at the beach.  Keep a lookout for sharp objects in the sand.  If your foot does get cut, clean and treat it immediately, put on your water shoes, and try not expose the cut to seawater, which can contain potent bacteria.  Puncture wounds should be given immediate medical attention.
  • Beware Jellyfish. Like the sirens of the invertebrate world, the enchanting appearance of jellyfish is deceptive.  Avoid these gorgeous monsters altogether, and remember that even dead, washed-up jellyfish can sting you.  If you are stung, remove any tentacles and treat wounds with vinegar, meat tenderizer, or baking soda to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Put Sun Lotion on your Feet. Not only will lubing up your feet prevent unsightly tan lines; you will also avoid the “rare but deadly skin cancers” that can occur on the feet, as the feet geeks at the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons put it.
  • Opt For Supportive Running Shoes. Running on uneven surfaces like sand can cause ankle and foot injuries.  If you can’t resist the sensation of running barefoot in the surf, be sure to properly care for any injuries you incur; see a doctor for any that don’t clear up after a few days.
  • Wear Shoes If You Have Diabetes. As you probably know if you suffer from diabetes, this disease causes poor blood circulation and numbness in the feet.  This means you may not even notice a cut until it’s already infected and ulcerated. Don’t put yourself at risk; wear shoes, and check them often for pebbles and other objects that could cause cuts.
  • Bikini by Zigi NYPamper Yourself After Your Fun in the Sun. Salt, sand, and surf are tough on the skin.  Sunlight burns, and salt water dehydrates your skin.  Ocean water may also contain irritants, so be sure to shower after your day in the sun.  If you leave salt water on your skin, it may cause irritation and itchiness.  Finally, moisturize your skin by drinking plenty of water and applying plenty of lotion.

Even if you’re determined to go barefoot, it’s a good idea to have a stock of cute beach shoes.  You’re sure to turn heads with any of the Shoefly kicks I’ve included here. Now get out there and have fun!

Top photo by Raveme.


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