“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy” goes the great jazz classic. It surely is true in Orange County, CA, where we enjoy the warm, sunny days and love being outdoors. When the summer heat really starts sizzling, you might be more proactive about putting on sunscreen, but remember to protect your feet from sunburn on milder days as well. Those UV rays can hone in like lasers and damage your skin when the temps are mild, too—even on cloudy days.
We suggest a triple-play motto for protecting skin from sunburn:
- Cover up
- Grease up
- Time’s up!
If you can’t find shade cover, use footwear to protect your feet. Even water shoes beat flip-flops or open sandals, although socks and shoes are best. If the socks wick moisture and the shoes are of breathable fabric, your feet can still stay fairly dry.
If your skin will be exposed, make sure to use a good sunscreen with sun protection factor of 30. A lower number won’t protect you as well, but the higher numbers only offer minimal increases over those with SPF 30. Skin cancer can occur anywhere on your feet—including the soles and between the toes—so be thorough when you apply, and reapply every couple of hours if you sweat or go in the water.
Some folks really don’t like wearing sunscreen, for a variety of reasons including worry about ingredients. You can search out the least harmful ones, but there is one more alternative to covering up or greasing up: limiting your time outdoors. Brief exposures throughout the day—no more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time in the sun—will probably not increase your risk of getting skin cancer by much. Take care, though. You could get caught up in that game of beach volleyball or fall asleep to the sound of the waves and wake up with cherry red feet that sting and burn.
If you do end up with sunburned feet, use cool wet washcloths or foot soaks to soothe them, and aloe vera gel to keep skin moist and help it heal. For badly burned feet or if blisters develop, it’s best to have our foot doctors take a look at them. Call the Ladera Ranch, CA office of Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists at (949) 364-9255 (WALK) to set up your appointment.