Foot Health for Beach and Water Sports
When participating in water sports or while playing or relaxing near water, it’s important to take care of your feet. Being in or near water exposes your feet to an entirely different set of potential hazards than does your usual environment. Follow these tips for healthy feet at the pool, lake or beach:
- After you’ve finished swimming or other water activities, wash and dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes.
- Pay special attention to your toenails and follow proper care guidelines. Toenails are more vulnerable to fungal infections when your feet are wet or damp.
- Apply sunscreen to your feet, especially on the tops and the ankles. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that protects against both ultraviolet A and B rays, and that is water resistant. But even if the sunscreen is water resistant, it is wise to reapply it after swimming just to be safe.
- Don’t share towels – athlete's foot fungus and other microbes can remain on towels and spread from one person to another.
- If you are boating, fishing or participating in other water sports, wear proper footwear. This may include water shoes, boat shoes or other footwear specifically designed to be used in or near the water.
- When in the ocean, be aware of sharp shells or coral that can cut the undersides of your feet, and stinging fish in the water or on the beach. It’s a good idea to use water shoes or other protective footwear at all times.
- When walking on the beach, it’s best to wear some type of footwear to protect your feet; but if you’re barefoot, pay attention to where you step to avoid debris, holes and other potential hazards. Also be aware that on hot, sunny days, sand can reach temperatures high enough to burn your feet.
- Do not walk long distances in flip flops. Most are not designed to provide sufficient support for long distance walking.
- Be aware that open-toe or open-heel footwear increases the chances of tripping and/or injuring toes and other parts of your feet. Consider wearing footwear that encloses both the toes and the heel and provides sufficient support for the arches.
- Going barefoot may expose your feet to germs. Be sure to wash feet thoroughly after going barefooted on public beaches or in lake or pool areas; and if you sustain a cut be sure to protect it so that germs cannot enter through the opening in the skin.