Look at your feet!

Wet footwear is the worst, says Dr Jaishree Sharad, a dermatologist who founded Skinfiniti Aesthetic Skin & Laser Clinic, in Mumbai. She makes it sound awful: “The dark, humidity of your closed shoes is a perfect environment for fungus and bacteria to grow. Exposed to dampness through the day, they look raw and broiled by the time you reach home at night.” It gets worse: apparently, fungal infections can spread from the feet to the hands and other parts of the body, including the groin. Here, how to protect against the worst.

If your feet (in your shoes) do get wet, remove your footwear. Wash with a mild shower gel and dry immediately. Make sure to get rid of the mud and dirt. Keep a back-up pair of
chappals
handy at work.

If you’ve been in dirty water, wash feet and then dust on some anti-fungal powder. Try clotrimazole dusting powder.

The next time around, choose the right footwear: open or well-ventilated. Avoid leather and select shoes with rubber or polyester soles or heels. This will also prevent skin allergies.

Dry the toe web spaces and apply a good layer of moisturiser after a bath: oil-based for dry skin, gel-based for already hydrated skin. Lactic acid has both moisturising and exfoliative properties, so you could try something with it. Coconut oil is another great option, as it has anti-bacterial as well as anti-fungal properties.

Avoid hot showers as they dehydrate your skin.

In rainy weather, keep your toe nails short, but don’t tamper with cuticles. In fact, use a cuticle cream. Get a pedicure, ensuring that the implements are sterilised, or carry your own. Infections are rampant at this time, so it’s all the more important. If you have open wounds, skip it.

A pumice stone may gather fungus in the season, so use a metal exfoliator instead, but no more than once a week, so that you don’t tear your skin. You could use an oatmeal scrub more often.

If you find you’re getting blisters, use an antibacterial cream containing mupirocin. Do not burst the blisters; let them burst and then heal on their own. Check to make sure you’re not wearing too-tight shoes.

To prevent smelly feet, use lemon drops in hot water to soak your feet in, twice a week. Once a week, soak your feet in lukewarm water with salt or a mild cleansing gel for 15 minutes. This kills bacteria and softens the skin. Follow with a foot cream, with a few of these ingredients: urea, squalene, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid.

Make sure your shoes and socks are dry whenever you wear them. Wash footwear with water and disinfectant and air them out before you wear them the next time.

If you notice rash-red skin areas, peeling, or itching or pain in the feet, consult a dermatologist for an early diagnosis and treatment.

Experts: Dr Nidhi Singh, Consultant Dermatologist, Gleneagles Global Health City, Chennai; Dr Sneh Thadani, Dermatologist and Founder, Skin Soul Clinic, Mumbai

Avoid leather and select shoes with rubber or polyester soles or heels. This will also prevent skin allergies

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