In Winter Haven, we’re lucky enough to enjoy “sandal weather” nearly year-round. And while a lazy barefoot stroll at sunset might sound idyllic, it can really do a number on your feet. The following suggestions will help you keep your feet and toes in tip-top shape.

Say “yes” to shoes

Florida’s climate almost never requires woolen socks or heavy winter boots, but think twice before forgoing footwear entirely. Walking barefoot leaves feet unprotected and puts you at increased risk of developing plantar warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm and other troublesome conditions. Cuts, scrapes and bruises are another reason to slip on a pair of shoes. At the pool, beach or locker room, flip-flops or shower shoes are a smart choice to protect yourself from foot injury and infection.

Stay high and dry

Sudden thunderstorms are a fixture of Polk County summers, and soggy shoes are an unpleasant consequence of splashing through the parking lot puddles and flooded sidewalks that occur in their wake. Remove wet shoes as soon as possible and allow them to dry completely before re-wearing to discourage fungal and bacterial growth. Consider carrying a spare pair of footwear — flip flops are a cheap and easily portable option.

Don’t skimp on SPF

The importance of sun protection is a given in Central Florida, but many people neglect to include their feet in their sun care regimen. Whenever you wear flip-flops or open sandals outdoors, be sure to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to the tops of your feet. Don’t forget to reapply as needed!

Hydrate

Drinking plenty of water is good for your overall health and helps keep feet and ankles from swelling in the Florida heat. Externally, you can soothe dry, cracked, itchy heels by applying a moisturizing cream. Products containing petrolatum or lactic acid are your best bet for keeping skin soft, smooth and healthy.

Keep an emergency kit

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. An unexpected scrape or burgeoning blister can  put a damper on anyone’s day. Worse yet, even a minor foot injury can lead to more serious health issues if not tended to properly. Keeping a foot care kit in your car or office is a great way to stay prepared. A well-stocked kit might include:

  • Antiseptic wipes, antibiotic cream and sterile bandages – to clean and dress any cuts or abrasions
  • Tweezers – to remove splinters, glass or other irritants
  • Moleskin or blister pads – to prevent friction and help protect against blisters
  • Ibuprofen – to ease any pain or inflammation when injuries occur
  • Toenail clippers and an emery board – to keep toenails trimmed and smooth
  • Pumice stone – to remove excess dry skin and callus buildup
  • Foot cream – to keep skin supple and well-moisturized