Don't Let Your Feet Ruin Your Day at the Beach

Beach Safety Infographic Photo

As millions of Americans hit the beach this summer, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons offers these foot safety tips:

Puncture Wounds and Cuts

Wear shoes to protect your feet from puncture wounds and cuts caused by sea shells, broken glass and other sharp objects. Don't go in the water if your skin gets cut - bacteria in oceans and lakes can cause infection. A puncture wound should be treated by a foot and ankle surgeon within 24 hours to avoid complications.

Jellyfish Stings

Remember that a jellyfish washed up on the beach can still sting if you step on it. If their tentacles stick to the foot or ankle, remove them, but protect your hands from getting stung too. Vinegar, meat tenderizer or baking soda reduce pain and swelling. Most jellyfish stings heal within days, but if they don't, see a doctor.

Sunburns

Feet get sunburn too. Rare but deadly skin cancers can occur on the foot. Don't forget to apply sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of your feet.

Burns

Sand, sidewalks and paved surfaces get hot in the summer sun. Wear shoes to protect your soles from getting burned, especially if you have diabetes.

Ankle Injuries, Arch and Heel Pain

Walking, jogging and playing sports on soft, uneven surfaces like sand frequently leads to arch pain, heel pain, ankle sprains and other injuries. Athletic shoes provide the heel cushioning and arch support that flip-flops and sandals lack. 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.

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.

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  • Founded in 1942, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons is a specialty medical society of more than 6,000 foot and ankle surgeons. All Fellows of the College are board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. OUR VISION IS CLEAR: To serve society as the preeminent source of knowledge for foot and ankle surgery. OUR MISSION IS SOLID: To advance the competency of our members and the care of our patients.
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