How to Keep Your Feet Healthy

View as:|
1 of 12

What works

Your feet don’t always get the respect they deserve. And unless they’re causing you pain, you may not even think about giving them regular care. Here’s how to keep them comfortable and in top shape:

Slather on sunscreen

Feet can get burned, too. If you’re wearing an open shoe, it’s important to cover the tops of your feet and your ankles with a mineral-based sunscreen, preferably one containing zinc oxide.

Avoid going barefoot inside

Walking around without shoes in a locker room, on a pool deck, or in a communal shower is an invitation for warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other fungal or bacterial infections. Instead, wear water shoes.

Avoid going barefoot outside

Even though the feel of the sand between your toes may be your idea of nirvana, resist the urge to remove your shoes at the beach or in the backyard. Sharp objects may lie in wait.

Avoid wearing flip-flops

They don’t provide enough cushioning or foot support and can lead to arch and heel pain. Save them for the beach and locker room, and never wear them if you have balance issues.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Drink plenty of fluids on hot days to keep swelling in your feet (and all your extremities) to a minimum.

Treat nail fungus

If you notice a discolored or damaged toenail, see your podiatrist for a nail culture. The earlier it’s treated, the better. New topical prescriptions and medical lasers are available for making the nails look and feel better.

Smooth your skin

If you have calluses or corns caused by irritation from a poorly fitting shoe, soak the area in warm water and Epsom salt until it softens, then use a pumice stone to gently file away dead skin.


Follow up with a cream that contains salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea, all of which provide a gradual softening action.

Use moleskin

To prevent further irritation, apply a piece of nonmedicated moleskin or a protective pad on or around the callus or corn.

Get the right shoes

Your shoes should feel comfortable, offer ample support, and provide a half-inch of space between the tip of the shoe and your longest toe. Poorly fitting shoes can lead to blisters and open wounds.

Assemble a first-aid foot kit

That is, sterile bandages and antibiotic cream for minor cuts and scrapes, toenail clippers, an emery board to smooth out rough nail edges, aloe vera for sunburns, and a hydrocortisone cream for insect bites.