Walking on a sandy beach with the calming sound of the waves crashing against the shoreline is a wonderful way to exercise and experience nature at the same time. Healthline states that it’s “ideal for those with pain in their knees, back, and hips, as sand puts less stress on the body, making it easier on the bones and joints.”
When you see that shoreline glistening in the distance, it’s tempting to prance around barefoot without a care in the world. Unfortunately, the sand sometimes gets a little too hot. If you find your feet are peeling or painful after walking without footwear on the beach, you may be suffering from beach feet. Visiting your local podiatrist may be a good idea, but how do you know if your condition is severe enough to warrant a visit? Below, we’ll take a look at beach feet and what you can do for treatment and prevention to keep your feet in tip-top-toe shape.
What Is Beach Feet?
In short, beach feet is a sand-associated thermal injury. While the sun’s UV rays can burn exposed skin, hot sand can burn the bottoms of your feet with each step you take. The burns can be first or even second degree, depending on the temperature of the sand. For example, when the outside temperature reaches 75 F, beach sand can heat up to over 100 F.
Signs of beach feet may include:
- Blisters or feet peeling after a beach walk
- Foot pain after walking on the beach (mild to severe)
Those who hardly ever go barefoot or haven’t been out on the beach for a while are more susceptible to beach feet because they don’t have protective calluses. People with diabetes are also more likely to experience this condition.
3 Tips for Preventing Beach Feet
If the sand has you hopping around or running to stick your feet into the water, it’s probably too hot, and could burn or damage the soles of your feet.
1. Wear Proper Shoes
The best solution is to prevent contact with the sand by wearing sandals or shoes while at the beach. Sandals, sand socks, or shoes made out of plastic, rubber, foam resin, or neoprene provide a barrier between your skin and the burning sand — the benefits of beach walking without the burn!
Although flip flops and open-toed shoes may be the first options that come to mind, they let the hot sand in and can trap heat between your feet and the soles of the footwear. This is why it’s best to avoid them and stick to full protection provided by close-toed shoes, sandals, and sand socks.
2. Burrow Your Feet
For instances where you find yourself already walking on the hot sand with nary a shoe in sight, you can burrow your feet a few inches deep into the sand. This is a technique used by many professional beach volleyball players because it puts the hot skin in contact with the cooler sand beneath the surface. Although it means you may need to walk a little slower, you’re more likely to reach your destination without burning the soles of your feet.
3. Wet Your Feet
Another temporary solution is to wet your feet. Some foot-wetting options include:
- Beach shower
- Water bottle
- Walk in the wet sand
- Take a dip in the ocean
Since water cools the skin, your feet can withstand longer heat exposure before reaching beach feet status.
Beach Feet Treatment Options
Although walking on the beach can do wonders for foot and ankle flexibility, it’s important to wear the proper footwear so you can avoid the pain of beach feet. However, if you do experience your feet peeling after beach walks or other symptoms, you can soak your feet in cool water, apply soothing creams, drink plenty of water, and allow your feet time to recover.
We’ve Got Your Feet Covered
Often, you can treat beach feet at home, but if you’re a frequent sand-walker, or experience severe burns, you may need experienced medical attention to get you back on your feet. When your beach feet condition has you down for the count, Foot & Ankle is here to help with burns, peeling, or any foot injury after a beach day. We’re here to help.
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