Keeping Your Feet Safe on Vacation

My dad is a podiatrist, and every summer when we were at the beach or the pool, he pestered me (and my brothers) to put sunscreen on our feet. I certainly did not understand at the time just how important it is to protect your feet from the sun. But now I know that it takes even more than sunscreen to keep your feet safe during the long summer days.

No matter where you go on vacation, there are some important things to do and to watch for to help keep your feet comfortable. The first thing, of course, is sunscreen. My dad was right to pester us kids- both the top and bottom of your feet can get sunburned. In addition, the skin on your feet can be more susceptible to melanoma (along with other types of skin cancer), especially if you have a family or personal history, or if you already have moles on your feet. If your feet spend any time in a pool or ocean, make sure to apply the sunscreen on them afterward.

The beach brings other dangers besides the sun too- it feels nice to walk barefoot on the sand, but shells, glass, wood, and other objects that might lay hidden can all cause cuts or injuries to your feet. If you have gotten a cut on your foot, going in the water can invite bacteria and other organisms to cause infections. Wearing sandals on the beach can help protect you, and checking your feet before you head for a swim can prevent you from swimming with an open cut that you didn’t notice before. If you’re spending a lot of time in a pool, ocean, or lake, investing in a pair of water shoes goes a long way for protecting your feet.


Of course there are other places to vacation besides the water. If you’re spending time camping, hiking, or touring a new city or country, make sure to wear good shoes that protect you from the elements and from the miles. Always give your hiking boots or walking shoes a good test run to make sure they fit well and won’t give you blisters. Keep in mind that feet swell when you’re standing and walking, so you might need a larger size in a hiking or walking shoe. Good arch support can help prevent fatigue and strain in your feet and ankles. If you’re spending time outdoors, always check your feet for insect bites. We’re all pretty familiar with mosquitoes, but keep an eye out for bites or stings from other critters. Ticks, chiggers, bees or wasps, spiders, even crabs or jellyfish can spell trouble. If you’re concerned about the appearance of an insect or animal bite, see a doctor right away.


Summer vacation is a great time for rest and relaxation, adventure and exploring. Remember these tips to keep your feet safe and healthy, so you can enjoy your vacation to the max. Have a great time this summer- and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Foot and Ankle Surgeon Dr. Caitlin MaddenDr. Caitlin Mahan Madden works in our Rockville, MD (Shady Grove) and Wheaton, MD offices.

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