Summer has arrived in Southern California, and we’ve already hit our first heat wave of the season. Of course, nobody wants to be outside when temperatures are pushing 115 degrees—especially already by early June—but as we all adapt to the warmer temperatures and enjoy outdoor activities, it’s important to remember to protect exposed skin from sun damage. If you’re choosing sandals, that means the tops of your feet need protection, too.
Many people skip the sunscreen on feet for various reasons. Many don’t know that it’s important, or think that feet are better shielded than faces and shoulders. Perhaps others just don’t want to take the time. Unfortunately, the truth is that sunburns, sun damage, and skin cancers don’t really discriminate. If it can happen on your shoulders, it can happen on your feet! And because people are less likely to check their feet carefully, the warning signs of a problem—potentially even a malignant melanoma—might go unrecognized longer and be allowed to spread further than if they emerged in a more high-profile area.
Of course the best way to protect your feet from the sun’s damaging rays is to go with closed shoes. Choosing shoes over sandals has other advantages for your foot health as well. Generally speaking, they’re much better at supporting your feet and allowing you to walk with a normal gait. Some sandals can do a good job of this too, but most types—especially flip flops—do a lousy job of providing arch support and even alter the way you walk, leading to more stress and damage and higher risk of injuries or progressive deformities.
That said, good sandals can be an appropriate choice at least on occasion, and when the sun and heat are beating down the way they can in the desert it can feel essential. Just remember that if you’re going with open footwear, make sure you hit your feet with that SPF 30 (or more) and reapply when necessary (typically every 2 hours). Be vigilant and check your feet often, too. Any changes, signs of damage, or unusual moles should be checked out.
Dr. Harvey Danciger can help you address any concerns you have with your feet, including skin conditions or more general problems with pain. You can make an appointment with him at his Palm Desert, CA office by calling 760-568-0108, or you can request an appointment using our online contact form.