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Dare to bare your summer feet! When the sun comes out, so do our feet - and they aren't always the prettiest after a winter stuffed into boots. We asked top podiatrist Michael Harrison-Blount to talk us through the most common summer foot complaints, and what we can do to sort them.

CRACKED HEELS Thick, hard skin on the heel that's cracked and painful is something many people have to deal with. 'The ageing process is partly to blame for the state of our heels,' explains Michael. 'As collagen breaks down in the skin, the tissues dry out. When you wear an open-backed shoe, your heel hangs slightly over the edge, and the pressure causes the cracks.'

The solution

You need to have a routine for your feet, like you have one for your face. 'To reduce the amount of hard skin, try soaking your feet in warm water, before scrubbing with a pumice or foot-file,' says Michael. 'Then use a cream that contains urea, because this draws moisture from your body's own reserves. Do this two to three times a week and the cracks should heal fairly quickly.'


Scholl's Velvet Smooth Electronic Foot Fille, PS26.66, to slough off old skin. Boots Cracked Heel Balm, PS8.49 for 125ml, contains 25% urea, making quick work of dry bits.


Now here's a painful nuisance! These occur when a portion of nail grows inwards and pierces the toe, often leading to inflammation, pain, bleeding, and sometimes pus from an infection. They can be caused by a number of factors, from badly cut nails to poorly fitting shoes, stubbed toes and sweaty feet. You may even have been born with toenails that grow inwards.

The solution

Your toenail cutting technique is key here, explains Michael: 'Never use scissors, because they split the nail, and avoiding cutting them too short. Cut nails straight across the top and contoured slightly to the shape of the nail.' Never cut the edges too short, as this will encourage your skin to grow over the nail. If you have a sore or infected ingrown nail, see your GP or podiatrist.

TRY Scholl Ingrowing Toenail Complete Clip and Spray Kit, PS14.99. This nifty clip pulls the edge of the nail upward to relieve discomfort, while the cooling spray soothes pain.


Warm weather means kissing goodbye to boots and trainers in favour of sandals, flip-flops and ballet pumps - all of which spell trouble for our tootsies. 'People focus on high heels as footwear baddies, but they're not,' explains Michael. 'Shoes that are completely flat can cause just as much damage - toes have to grip on, and the small muscles on the bottom of the foot become tired and achey, even causing arch collapse from lack of support.'

The solution

Avoid thin-soled ballet pumps and flip-flops at all costs. 'Aim for a shoe with a 2-3cm heel,' says Michael. 'Anything more or less than that and you'll start to get foot trouble. The foot has to work three times as hard to do its normal function with unsupportive footwear.'


We've all seen them: thick, yellowed, crumbly toenails that might even smell. Fungal nail infections usually start out as a skin infection, such as athlete's foot. 'The fungal spores in shed skin can lie dormant for a couple of days, meaning they're highly contagious,' says Michael. 'If there's a split on the nail, the infection can spread from the skin to the nail.'

The solution

Treating a fungal nail infection early is essential - let it go too far and treatment can be tricky. 'At the start, the infection will look like a layer of talcum powder on top of the nail,' explains Michael. 'Use an over-the-counter anti-fungal nail varnish if you catch it early.' If the infection takes hold, a podiatrist will drill tiny holes in the nail to allow the anti-fungal treatment to sink in, and if things get really bad a doctor can prescribe anti-fungal tablets. 'Oral medication will only be prescribed if three or more toes are infected, because the medication is strong and doctors will need to monitor you for liver damage.'


Paint your toenails with the Superdrug Fungal Nail Pen, PS14.99. This clever pen can also be used as a preventative if a family member has an infection.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 18, 2017
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