How to deal with toe fungus (and other common summer foot problems)

toe nail fungus
With summer comes more sweating, and more sweating means you're more likely to develop foot and toenail fungus. Getty Images

The sun is out and so are our toes. Whether you’re wearing open-toed shoes or just heading to the public pool, experts say foot health should be even more of a priority in summer months.

Dr. Anatoli Freiman of the Toronto Dermatology Centre, says foot health is important for the general population, but subgroups like those who have diabetes, for example, could be more at risk.

“People with diabetes are 25 per cent more likely to get toe fungus,” he tells Global News. “It’s very important to have your feet looked at.”

READ MORE: Beauty tips for your feet

According to the College of Podiatry in the U.K., there are a number of things we can do in the summer to keep our feet in the best health. For starters, make sure you are trimming your toenails or getting a pedicure.

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“Use proper nail clippers and cut straight across – not too short, and not down at the corners, as this can lead to ingrown nails. File them, if that’s easier,” experts note on the National Health Service’s site.

It’s also important to change your socks on the daily, especially on hotter days, the site notes. “If you have to wear socks in hot weather, change them once a day and choose ones that contain at least 70 per cent cotton or wool to keep your feet dry and stop them smelling.”

Below, Freiman breaks down what to do with the most common summer foot problems.

Smelly feet

There are several reasons why people have stinky feet in the summer, Freiman says. Often, fungus and bacteria can cause foul odours, so it’s always important to make a diagnosis with a professional. “There’s a lot of stuff on the market and people often self-medicate themselves,” Freiman says. Sometimes, this means simply spraying your foot with a perfume or foot spray — which only masks the problem.

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Toe and foot fungus

Freiman says he sees a lot of toe and foot fungus during summer months, and most of it is caused by sweating or excessive moisture. Freiman says if you see any type of fungus or discolouration, try a fungus cream or talk to a specialist. Often, he says, people ignore the problem as a cosmetic issue, but over time, fungus can lead to serious infections.

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“[To avoid it], make sure your shoes are not too tight and if you go to the gym or pool, always wear slippers.”
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Dry feet

Although this is more common in winter months, some people also have dry feet in the summer. An easy fix for this one, Freiman says, is using a moisturizer for extra dry skin. For the best results, apply the lotion after taking a shower, making sure your feet are completely dry before application.

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Cracked feet

People with cracks on the bottom of their feet may be dealing with a skin infection, fungus or bacteria. If you have any pain or if the cracked areas spread, talk to your doctor right away. In the meantime, he adds, a moisturizer can help.

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Corns and calluses

Corns and calluses are caused by friction and pressure from shoes and how we walk, Freiman says. While these can sometimes be treated with off-the-counter medication, he says some people may have a hard time distinguishing between corns and warts. Warts, in particular, are caused by a virus and need to be treated by an expert.

And because it’s summer, taking care of your skin, generally, (yes, even on your feet) is also crucial. If you do spend a lot of time outdoors with exposed feet, or if you’re on vacation, don’t forget to use sunscreen.