It's flip-flop season. But if your feet took more of a beating last winter than Goldman Sachs' PR team, it's time for some damage control. Even tough guys are hesitant to get out of hot sneakers if what's inside are calluses, heel cracks and thick, yellow nails. Here's how to like yourself naked from the ankles down.
- Keep Them Dry
Fungi, yeast and bacteria love warm, moist places, so don't give them a chance to snuggle in and corrupt and discolor your nails. Avoid being among the 12 percent of Americans with the nail fungus onychomycosis—even the name is ugly. Quickly get out of sweaty shoes after a walk. And towel dry wet feet—including between toes—with your own towel.
- Cushion Them
Slip on well-padded athletic shoes when you'll be on your 26 foot bones awhile. (Price doesn't always equal quality, but athletic shoes are one of the five things we think you should overpay for to gain quality.) Dead, thick skin, also known as calluses, builds from putting too much pressure on feet often. To prevent the kind of heel pain that has 16 percent of us saying ouch, check for shock absorption in the heels, which bear the brunt of your weight.
- Trim Them
Keep nails short so they won't curve into the skin or allow infection-causing bacteria to gather beneath them. To soften thick toenails before cutting, soak them in warm salt water for five to 10 minutes, then massage in a urea-containing cream like Eucerin or Aqua Care. And use industrial-strength nail cutters, since wimpy ones will split nails.