Whatever your foot care concern, we’ve got you covered

Does the idea of swapping socks for sandals as the weather heats up break you into a panic-induced sweat? We feel your fear. Hidden away for the majority of the year, the truth is our feet have gotten a little comfortable hidden away in the depths of our boots over the last few months. Perhaps, a little too comfortable. So it’s only natural that we may need a little time to help them step out of the darkness and into the light as they make the leap from hibernation to humidity.

If you’re feeling a little self-conscious about getting your toes out, rest assured that you aren’t alone. “We see an increase in patients who are more concerned about the appearance of their feet in summer months,” Saffron Wilson, podiatrist and co-founder of 360 Podiatrity tells us. Considering how much of a battering we put them through, it could be the perfect time to show them a little TLC. “There's nothing to be ashamed of,” Saffron reassures us. “Foot issues are so common and there are so many treatment options out there that can help them get back to their best.”

With this in mind, we snatched some time with Saffron, and Marion Yau, Harley Street podiatrist, to get the lowdown on five of the most common summer foot dilemmas and the best ways to deal with them.

Scroll on for their top tips and prepare to put your best foot forward during the sunnier times ahead.  If you have diabetes, you should see a podiatrist regularly and check that any products are suitable for people with diabetes before use.

1. Cracked heels

What are they & what causes them?

Cracked heels – a common foot concern. Mainly caused by a lack of hydration, they can be made worse by our go-to summer footwear.

“We always see an increase in cracked heels in the summer months due to patients switching to sandals,” Saffron tells us. “Open shoes allow the moisture in the skin to evaporate and it can start to dry out. Open back sandals also increase pressure on the soft tissues of the heel, which can cause the already dry skin to crack.”

How can I treat cracked heels?

Luckily, cracked heels are actually pretty easy to prevent and deal with.

“Regularly exfoliating and moisturising feet can keep skin healthy and prevent cracked heels,” says Marion. “Dermatonics Heel Balm with Manuka Honey is a top recommendation of mine. It’s made with shea butter and beeswax, which help to nourish and hydrate the skin.”

For an intensive treatment, try applying Vaseline over the heels, before wrapping the feet in cling film, popping on a pair of cotton socks and wearing them to bed.

2. Corns

What are they & what causes them?

“While corns are similar to warts, they differ in that they are made of hard skin with a core,” explains Marion. “Those with corns can experience pain on high-pressure areas, such as the tops of their toes.”

They can form as a result of pressure or friction on the skin caused by ill-fitting shoes or wearing shoes without socks.

How can I treat a corn?

To provide cushioning to painful areas, Marion recommends trying corn plasters. “They can be helpful for reducing pressure and allow for faster healing.”

Boots Pharmaceuticals Corn Relief Pads are great for corns on the tops of toes. They can help relieve pain and prevent recurrence after treatment,” adds Saffron. Wearing thick socks or soft insoles in your shoes can be helpful here too.

To remove a corn, try soaking feet in warm water to soften it and regularly use a pumice stone or foot file. If there’s no improvement,  it’s always a good idea to visit a podiatrist. They may be able to cut some (or even all) of the corn away – honestly, not as scary as it sounds.

3. Blisters

What are they & what causes them?

Blisters are small pockets of clear fluid that form underneath a layer of skin. According to the NHS, they form to protect damaged skin and help it heal and are mostly caused by friction, burns and skin reactions.

How can I treat and prevent blisters?

“Blisters are more likely to develop in sweaty feet, so we recommend using a foot powder or spray in the mornings,” says Saffron. “If you’re planning a long day of walking or are wearing a new pair of shoes, try using Boots Blister Prevention Tape. Once blisters have formed, protect it with a hydrocolloid plaster like Compeed Blister Hydrocolloid Plasters.”

Despite being uncomfortable, blisters often heal on their own within a week, so there’s usually no need to see a GP. However, if you suspect a blister could be infected – signs include it being red, hot, painful and filled with green or yellow puss – then it’s important to seek treatment.

“And always avoid bursting blisters at home,” adds Saffron. “This can increase the risk of infection.” If your blister pops, try to keep the area clean.

4. Bunions

What are they & what causes them?

Bunions describe a condition where the big toe starts to bend towards the second toe and a large lump appears on the foot,” explains Saffron. “Bunions are usually genetic but tight fitting footwear that compresses the toes can exacerbate the condition.”

How can I treat bunions?

The bad news? Surgery is the only way to get rid of bunions and even then they can occasionally return.

The good news is that there are ways to help make things a little more comfortable. “If a bunion causes pain when walking, then we’d recommend seeing a podiatrist for an assessment because in some cases orthotics or exercises can help,” suggests Saffron.

“For non-painful bunions, try extra wide-fitting footwear and something like Boots Bunion Relief Pads to relieve pressure from the prominent joint.” Holding an ice pack on the bunion, for up to five minutes at a time, may also help ease some of the pain.

5. Smelly feet

What causes it?

And finally, smelly feet. While it’s not the most glamorous of subjects, it’s certainly a common concern over the summer.

“Smelly feet are usually caused by sweat, in the same way a sweaty body leads to body odour,” explains Saffron.

“Sometimes foot odour can be associated with athlete’s foot, so it’s important to rule these out,” adds Marion. Speak to a pharmacist if you’re unsure whether you may have athlete’s foot.

How can I treat smelly feet?

“I often recommend patients switch to bamboo socks as they have great moisture wicking properties that can help prevent foot odour,” says Saffron. “It’s also important to treat shoes with a good shoe spray. Boots Anti-Perspirant Foot Spray is great for freshening up.”

Feel like you’re dealing with a persistent foot issue? Speak to a GP or pop in for a chat with a pharmacist at your local Boots – whatever toe- or foot-related dilemma you’re dealing with, they’ll be happy to help.