After months of hibernation, we reveal how to get feet summer-ready

It happens every year. The sun appears, you make a mad dash for your sandals, and then realise your feet haven’t seen the light of day for six months. You probably haven’t even noticed how hard the skin on your heels is. Here, we tackle some of the biggest foot bugbears and how to treat them – from problem-solving products to pro tips – for sandal-worthy soles this summer.

Athlete’s foot

What is it? A fungal infection that usually occurs between the toes, according to Dina Gohil, CEO of DG Podiatrist (@dgpodiatrist). "Common symptoms are itchy, inflamed, scaly and peeling skin, blistering, and sometimes skin that cracks or bleeds," she says.

Fix it: If you’ve got athlete’s foot, Dina advises against exposing your feet to sweaty conditions for a prolonged time. "Change your socks once a day, twice if prone to sweaty feet. Wear breathable or open shoes, and try an athlete’s foot treatment," she says. Boots pharmacists can offer further advice on treatments, such as Lamisil AT 1% Cream, £6.25, which contains terbinafine hydrochloride.

Fungal nail infections

What is it? "This infection likes dark, warm places and feeds off the keratin within the nail plate," explains Lynn Mason, nailcare expert at Mavala UK. "It has a constant source of food, which is why it won’t disappear on its own."

Fix it: With one in four people likely to suffer from a nail fungus at any given time*, it’s best to try and treat it asap using an anti-fungal nail treatment, such as Boots Advanced Fungal Nail Treatment Solution, £21.99. Making sure your feet don’t get too warm or sweaty by wearing tight-fitting shoes is also a good idea.

Hard skin

What is it? "High pressure, friction and lack of moisture can cause dead skin to build up," explains Dina. Other triggers you might not be aware of include not washing excess soap off your feet properly, skin-irritating ingredients and even exercising, so be mindful of this if you have noticed calluses (areas of thick, dry skin) appearing.

Fix it: A foot file or pumice stone rubbed onto a dry foot will help buff the skin down and then it’s time to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. "A urea-based foot cream is medically proven to relieve dry, cracked skin," says podiatrist Dr Bharti Rajput. "Urea is a naturally occurring element of the skin that increases the water uptake from the dermis, so using products that contain it can be an effective way to replicate the hydration process."

Ingrown nails

What is it? "The nail may naturally curve into the sides of the nail known as the sulcus, or may have been cut poorly, leaving sharp corners that can aggravate and hurt," explains Dina.

Fix it: For prevention, Dina recommends cutting your nails according to your nail shape and filing the corners so there’s no sharp edges that can become ingrown. If you do have ingrown nails, start soaking your feet in warm water with a handful of salt daily for 10 minutes, advises Dina. "This will soften the nail to allow you to cut it back without further damage. If this still doesn’t work, you may need a podiatrist to remove it professionally," she adds.


What is it? Often triggered by ill-fitting shoes, blisters are a common foot ailment. "Blisters are pockets of fluid between the skin’s layers that have been exposed to friction and pressure. They can appear clear or blood-filled," says Dina.

Fix it: If you’re a picker or a prodder, stop right now. Never remove the skin of a blister. Instead, allow it to heal by avoiding anything that rubs or applies extra pressure on the area. Invest in blister plasters, such as Compeed Blister Plasters Hydrocolloid, £4.35, to help protect and provide extra cushioning.

Treat your feet

Once you’ve sorted out any health issues, make time for the best bit – pampering! Scrubs help slough away dry skin while you’re in the bath, and if your feet are an area you forget about when moisturising, keep a balm or moisturiser by your sofa or bed and apply while watching TV or when you’re about to hit the sack. Oils can also help nourish nails and skin. Stick to a regular routine and by the time you reach for your polish, your feet will look and feel fabulous.

Good to know

Everyone should get into the habit of doing a weekly foot inspection, advises Dr Bharti Rajput. ‘Just like people need haircuts and brow-shaping, you should keep up your foot maintenance,’ she says.

Besides external factors that can affect your tootsies, internal issues could impact your foot health, too, such as the menopause and diabetes. ‘The menopause can affect your feet because of changes in hormones. This could be anything from swelling, odour and sweat, to dryness,’ explains DG Podiatrist’s Dina.

And if you’re diabetic, you may be more prone to swelling and infection in the feet, as high blood sugar levels can reduce the immune system**, making you more prone to infections.

Keep an eye on your feet for any signs of change, visiting your GP if you’re concerned, and make sure you stay up to date with your foot checks.

Everything you need to keep your tootsies looking top notch
Boots Tea Tree & Peppermint Moisturising Foot Socks, £1.99

Pop these socks on for 20 minutes and put your feet up for a nourishing spa-like treatment that leaves your feet smooth and soft.

Tweezerman Neon Files, £7

With their own carry case to keep them clean and protected, these will make your DIY pedi look truly professional.

Max Factor Miracle Pure Nail in Moonstone Blue 840, £6.99 (12ml)

This plant-based, 100% vegan polish contains mineral clay to help strengthen the nails, while vitamin E conditions.

No7 Beautiful Skin Softening Heel & Foot Balm, £9.95 (125ml)

This hydrating cream intensively moisturises your foot and heel, for softer skin in no time at all.

Boots Advanced Fungal Nail Treatment Solution, £21.99 (4ml)

Apply to the affected nail twice a week, to treat infection and help give you clearer, brighter nails.

Lamisil AT 1% Cream, £6.25 (15g)

This cream contains terbinafine hydrochloride to treat athlete’s foot, while offering relief from itching and burning symptoms.

CCS Foot Care Cream, £7.99 (175ml)

This cream contains urea to help you ditch dry, hard skin on your feet – for super-soft heels you’ll be proud to show off.

Frank Body Coconut Coffee Scrub, £13.95 (200g)

Use this blend of coffee and essential oils all over in the shower, including feet, for a perfectly polished finish.

Compeed Blister Plasters Hydrocolloid, £4.35

For when a nasty blister appears to help soothe and protect skin while healing.

Scholl Pink Electric Foot File, £39.99

This electric file can be used wet or dry to exfoliate and help remove rough areas of skin without all the effort.

Photography: Stocksy
*British Skin Foundation.
**Case Western Reserve University.
†Always read the label.
All prices correct on date of publication