Headed to the Beach? Don’t Forget About Your Feet
- Wear shoes to protect your feet from puncture wounds and cuts. Sea shells, broken glass and other sharp objects when stepped on can ruin your day at the beach. Avoid the water if your skin gets cut – bacteria in oceans and lakes can cause infection. If you do suffer from a puncture wound, have it treated by a foot and ankle surgeon within 24 hours to avoid complications.
- Feet get sunburned, too. Rare but deadly skin cancers, such as melanoma, can occur on the foot. Prevent skin cancer on your feet by lathering up with sunscreen. Don’t forget to apply to both the tops and bottoms of your feet!
- Wear shoes to protect your soles from getting burned as you walk on blistering-hot sand, sidewalks and pavement. Take extra precaution if you have diabetes.
- Be careful with your footing while playing beach sports such as Frisbee or volleyball – walking, jogging and playing sports on soft, uneven surfaces frequently leads to arch pain, heel pain, ankle sprains and other injuries. It’s best to wear supportive shoes while playing beach sports. If injuries occur, use rest, ice, compression and elevation to ease pain and swelling. Any injury that does not resolve within a few days should be examined by a foot and ankle surgeon.
- Remember jellyfish stings can still occur even if it’s washed up on the beach. Remove any tentacles that may stick to the foot or ankle, and protect your hands. Vinegar, meat tenderizer or baking soda reduce pain and swelling. Most jellyfish stings heal within days, but if they don’t, see a doctor.
- Diabetes Risks: People who have diabetes face serious foot safety risks at the beach. The disease causes poor blood circulation and numbness in the feet. A person with diabetes may not feel pain from a cut, puncture wound or burn. Any type of skin break on a diabetic foot has the potential to get infected and ulcerate if it isn’t noticed right away. People with diabetes should always wear shoes to the beach, and remove them regularly to check for foreign objects like sand and shells that can cause sores, ulcers and infections.
For more information on foot and ankle health, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeon’s patient education page at FootHealthFacts.org.