Summer is the time when many of us shed our wooly socks and heavy boots in favor of warm-weather-ready sandals or bare feet. However, that footwear switch means it’s necessary to do some specific things to keep our feet healthy, specifically by focusing on the skin and nails. While most people think of summer pedicures as more of an accessory than a necessity, it’s important to care for the skin on your feet with as much care as you would the rest of your body for health reasons too.

Here are five handy ways to get healthy summer feet:

1. Apply moisturizer frequently.

Your feet can dry out more quickly in the summer because you’re not wearing socks as often as you do during the other months of the year. Keep the skin on your feet soft and supple by applying moisturizer to your skin daily, such as after getting out of the shower. Spread the substance liberally on your feet, but don’t put the lotion between your toes. It’s very important to keep the skin dry there to avoid infection

Foot cream options run the gamut from water-based formulas to aromatic and therapeutic, anhydrous blends. It’s easy to find one you’ll love that feels and smells great when you use it, plus banishes excessive dryness.

2. Manage your cracked heels at home.

Sometimes you’ll notice that you’re not dealing with overall dry skin on your feet, but that the problem mostly affects your heels. That’s a common condition that can both look and feel unpleasant. 

Cracked heels — also known by the medical name keratoderma — are more common in the winter months than the summer, but you still may experience it when the weather gets warm. 

Though dry, cracked heels may indicate a deficiency of healthy fats or other nutrients in your diet, there are also extrinsic causes. For instance, sandals and other kinds of open-back shoes can cause the fat pad under your foot to spread more, making your heels more likely to crack. Plus, if your summer footwear of choice causes friction on the back of your foot, it can also contribute to a cracked heel problem.

Fortunately, there are easy things you can do at home to keep cracked heels from getting worse. Besides moisturizing your heels as soon as you get out of the shower, do so before going to bed and put on a pair of socks afterward to help seal in that moisture. You can also soak your feet for 20 minutes in warm water, then use a loofah or scrub to remove dry skin afterward. 

3. Avoid or tackle nail fungus.

Nail fungus is a topic that some people hesitate to bring up if they’re suffering with it. It causes thick, yellow nails that individuals arguably wouldn’t want to show off during the summer or any other time. If you don’t have it, you can avoid it by always drying between your toes after a shower and trimming your toenails straight across with a clean, sterile set of clippers. 

If you do have toenail fungus, options for treatment range from holistic options like raw apple cider vinegar or tea tree oil to more conventional medicated nail polish and creams, all the way to laser treatment to surgery in extreme cases. Whatever option you feel most comfortable with, get the conversation started with your doctor if you haven’t yet to regain healthy summer feet. Begin tackling your nail fungus now and you’ll still have some of the summer left to highlight the results as you strut your stuff on the sand or elsewhere!

4. Trim your nails properly to avoid ingrown toenails

Summer is the season where people tend to pick colorful nail polish that helps them draw attention to their exposed tootsies. At the same time, they usually take on the related task of making sure they have nicely trimmed nails. When you do that this summer, make sure you know how to cut them in a way that makes ingrown toenails less likely to happen. 

The best approach is to cut them straight across and do so in two attempts. First, put the clippers slightly off the side of the nail to make a straight edge, then use the second cut to follow the line of the first one and remove the nail.

5. Go barefoot with caution.

It may seem like bare feet and the summertime go together, but you should be extra careful when deciding to go without shoes or socks. Hot pavement and sand can burn the soles of your feet, and the exposed skin is also at risk for splinters and broken glass. Also, if you have a weakened immune system or chronic health conditions like diabetes, going barefoot carries additional potential threats. 

Treat Your Feet This Summer

It’s simple to add easy tips for healthy summer feet into your warm weather daily regimen. As weight-bearing parts of your body, your feet work hard and deserve just as much TLC as the rest of your body! Now, you can give them gratitude as you get out to enjoy the warm weather.

Thank you to NAA MemberKate Harveston, for contributing this article!