Our feet have likely been in shoes, slippers, boots and socks for the long, cold winter.  Now that we can finally get outside and let our toes have a bit more space and air, you may be worried about what condition they are in.  From toenails to skin and foot pain, read on to see what can help you start summer off on the right foot! (...pun totally intended)

* Toenails: If your nails are looking thick or the slightest bit discolored, you may want to have that checked out before you cover it up with polish. Toenail fungus gets harder to treat the longer you wait.  This usually appears as either a yellowish discoloration or a white discoloration at the tip of the toenail.  As toenail fungus spreads it affects more and more of the nail and causes thickening of the toenail, brittle nails and also a nail that lifts from the underlying nailbed.  If your nails are slightly yellowed, a quick and painless test can determine whether there is fungus in the nail or not - which directs whether treatment is necessary for fungus or not.  Nails which are fungal can be treated topically. 

If your nails are clear and free of fungus, prevention is the name of the game.  Using polishes with natural antifungal elements can help to prevent fungus from penetrating and damaging the nail.  Dr.'s Remedy is one example. There are many colors available, but there is also a base coat which adds protection to your favorite color at home.  Another important tip is to allow toenails time to be free of nail polish every couple weeks. The longer a polish is on, the longer fungus has to affect the nail and when you remove the polish you may be in for a big surprise!

* Skin: After long winter months, your skin may be callused and/or dry.  Removing calluses can be done with a pedicure, but beware of metal files that shave the calluses down, as you can suffer a cut and possibly infection if you aren't careful.  However the calluses are removed, they are likely to build up again as your body places them in areas of high pressure or friction to toughen the skin up and prevent skin breakdown. One thing that can stave off time between needing to use that pumice stone is urea-based creams. These soften calluses and slow the buildup of skin. Urea cream is an example of this type of cream and is sold in a couple of strengths. 

If you wore those ugg boots without socks one too many times --- or if you just have sweaty feet, you may be experiencing a bout of Athlete's foot - especially if you have itching, burning, peeling skin.  Athlete's foot is the skin's form of fungal infection, also called tinea pedis.  As with anything, prompt treatment yields the best results.  The top layer of skin turns over once every 2 weeks (longer on the bottom of the foot).  This means that treatment can be completed in as little as two weeks. That being said, if this fungal infection is left untreated long enough, the skin may develop a subsequent inflammatory reaction which requires slightly different treatment that usually takes longer to complete.

* Foot Pain: Hopefully your feet aren't sore from the winter (if they are, call us!)...The transition into different shoes and into sandals can cause a bit of irritation to your feet.  Many closed toe shoes are more supportive than a sandal and usually do not cause irritation to any prominent areas of skin.  When we move into sandal season, we can develop blisters before our skin has a chance to create that 'flip flop callus' between our two first toes.  Avoiding a 5 hour trip to the mall in your sandals the first time out is critical to prevent this issue.  In addition, because sandals have less support, our ankles and feet may be more sore from the tendons compensating and firing more frequently than they had to in supportive closed toe shoes. 

Take care of your feet and they'll take care of you!  Enjoy a safe summer and for goodness sake get outside and have fun!