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Chicago Tribune: Give your feet a summer treat

Thought you were the only one praying for sun? What about your tootsies, confined to claustrophobia for what seemed like the longest winter in history?

Time to bust those suckers out. Too pasty and mangled, you say?

Fear not. Whether you’re a dude anxious to slip into Reefs or a lady shopping for this season’s peep-toe wedge, a few easy steps can prepare your feet for sunshine–and public viewing.

“A good foot inventory is the best thing to do after a winter that’s been wet and cold,” says Timothy Shea, a California podiatrist.

When that’s over, you can make them look pretty. Just follow our guide.

Fungus among us

Gross but true, the first thing to check for is a possible fungus infection. If you have excessive moisture on the bottom of the foot, it could be a sign, Shea said. Check your nails too. “If they are thicker or turning yellow or discolored, fungus is a possibility,” he said.

Prevent it by washing and drying your feet every day. Use soap and water and a washcloth to get between your toes and dry them with a towel. Sweaty feet? Shea suggests pouring rubbing alcohol over the feet once a week to disinfect them. If the fungal problem persists, see a podiatrist about over-the-counter products such as Lamisil.


Winter breeds dry, cracked skin, particularly heels. Not exactly sexy. Once they’re clean and moist, use a pumice stone or paddle to slough off excess skin that collects, due to friction when your heel hits the ground. “After about a week, the good skin will start to surface,” Shea said.

It’s important to moisturize on a regular basis, and not with popular body lotion. “They dry out the skin,” Shea said. Scaly, dry heels should be treated with creams that contain lanolin, such as Eucerin, Nivea and Kerasal.

Identify corns, calluses and bursal sacks (red and inflamed bumps) atop toes and knuckles. Corn cushions and wraps that contain mineral oil work well, New York podiatrist Lori Weisenfeld said. You also can see your podiatrist about having more serious corns removed.

Get pedi with it

Now that your feet are healthy, you can focus on making them look great. Professional pedicures can run anywhere from $15 to $120, depending on where you go and what treatments you add on.

While it’s nice to have someone working your kicks, it’s also easy to give yourself a pedicure. Use the guide from the American Podiatric Medical Association (

– Soak your feet in a large bucket with a few drops of peppermint or lavender oil.

– Stimulate foot circulation by moving your thumbs from the top of your toes to the bottom of your heel and back. Use a nail clipper to cut toenails straight across. Then, use an emery board to smooth the nail edges by filing in one direction without drastically rounding the edges.

– Dip a foot file or a pumice stone into water and gently smooth the skin around the heel, and the balls and sides of your feet. For extra softening, use a scrub, such as Avon’s Foot Works Double Action Sloughing Cream, and massage your entire foot and lower leg.

– Pat toes and feet dry. Loosen your foot joints by cupping your heel with one hand at the ankle and grabbing the top of your foot with the other. Apply and massage cream all over your feet to hydrate the skin. Squeeze your Achilles tendon (the fleshy area above your heel), one foot at a time, for five seconds.

– Using a cuticle oil, gently push back cuticles with a manicure stick. Remove old polish with a non-acetone polish remover (acetone is drying) and buff the surface of the nail so it’s smooth.


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