Our Jersey beaches are packed during July and August and hopefully you’re among those getting to enjoy some fun in the sun. At Paul S. DeMarco, DPM, however, we see far too many patients whose beach day is ruined by a foot injury. Fortunately, many of these mishaps are preventable if you know what to pack in your beach bag to help keep your feet safe. Below are a few must have items for a day at the beach:
1. Flip flops—not only will these shield your feet from blistering hot sand and pavement, they will also help you avoid bringing home a bacterial or fungal infection along with your seashell collection. These types of foot infections are passed on by direct contact. Someone with athlete’s foot or a fungal infection walks barefoot in the bathroom or changes stalls at the beach and you come in afterwards and you become the next victim of the fungi! Always keep feet covered when walking in public places. It’s also a good idea to give your feet a good scrubbing with soap and water when you get home.
2. Sunscreen—while this is very likely to be in your beach bag, the important point is to remember to use it on your feet—top and bottom. Many times patients ignore their feet when it comes to applying sunscreen. The sand acts as a giant reflector, intensifying the radiation from the sun. Don’t forget to reapply after going in the water. Having even one bad burn on your feet increases the risk of skin cancer, including deadly melanomas.
3. Rubber gloves and baking soda—when jellyfish are spotted in the water everyone makes a beeline for their beach towels but jellyfish that wash up on the shore can still sting you if you step on them and you’re not wearing shoes. Use gloves to remove any tentacles that are stuck in your feet to keep your hands from getting stung. Apply baking soda to stop the pain and reduce swelling.
4. Sneakers—in addition to jellyfish, there are many sharp objects buried in the beach sand that can puncture or cut your feet. Shoes with good ankle support and sturdy soles are also necessary if you plan to play Frisbee or volleyball or go for a run on shifty sand to prevent turning an ankle.
If you do get a cut or other wound on your foot, clean it out and cover with a bandage. Stay out of the water for the rest of the day as the bacteria in the water could enter your wound and cause infection. In case of injury or serious puncture wounds be sure to contact our Somers Point office at: (609) 927-4894 so that our podiatrist, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco, can evaluate your foot and prescribe any necessary treatment.