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Put your best foot forward this summer

 / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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What part of your body has 7,000 nerve endings, 38 little muscles and 56 different ligaments? The answer: your foot! No wonder they hurt when you stuff them into high heels, pointy toes or wedgy sandals. Podiatrist Suzanne Levine offers some help for your weary soles.

High heels and flatsHigh-heeled shoes put a lot more pressure on your toes and arches. When people complain of pain in the balls of their feet as well as the arches, I advise them to use a little cushioning in the arch area and under the ball of the foot.

For added relief, try over-the-counter blister care treatments. They are effective, but should never be placed over an open wound. Things like blister care kits, metatarsal pads and silicon gel pads may work, but they only ease symptoms.

When you wear heels in the summer, you get greater burning because of the heat and friction, so cushioning helps that, too. Like everything in life, moderation is going to be the key. Don't wear five-inch heels longer than an hour, and that goes for ballet slippers, too. And if the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it!

Flip-flops
These should only be worn for short periods of time. They're very bad for the arches and lead to plantar fascitis (heel spurs). They're also unsafe because they slip, and it's easy to trip. Don't walk great distances in these either — same goes for high, high heels!

Sling backs
With sling backs, the strap may keep falling down off the ankle because usually the ankles are much more narrower than the heels. Clearly these are problems that don't just present themselves in the summertime, but now there is heat and friction. Plus you're not wearing pantyhose or stockings, so you are going to build up more heat, irritation and dermatitis, and you can actually have skin irritation and blisters on the ball of the foot.

Try Pro Foot Slick Stick Miracle Anti-Blister Block, Dr. Scholl's For Her Foot Serum, Dr. Scholl's For Her Insoles, Dr. Scholl's Clear Gel Metatarsil Pads, Airplus For Her Steppies

Discoloration of the nails
While wearing closed shoes you might have developed a fungus or traumatized the nail, in which case the nails become somewhat yellow. Or you may have yellow, discolored nails from wearing dark nail polishes. Try products with tea tree oil and nail brightening creams to help clear up the problem. Also, women should take a break from nail polish and let their toenails breath a bit. Part of getting your feet in shape is getting the toes healthy, white and strong. Try Barielle Nail Strengthening Cream, Barielle Total Foot Cream and Tineacide

ProductsUrea is a product that's used a lot on the feet because of the thickness of the callous skin. Urea really moisturizes, and it is an agent that gets through the very thick layers — the stratum-cortium.

20% glycolic cream is an acid, similar to what is used on the face, but is much stronger for the foot. It removes dead cells and moisturizes at the same time.

Home care is the first line of defense for your feet. Often women have dry, dead callous skin around the heel. A very conservative measure that anyone can do at home is get some exfoliating creams that are available in your local store, and spend a little time preparing your feet using a callous remover.

If the condition continues or is not manageable, we recommend seeing a doctor for a medical-grade exfoliant. You can also get a “foot facial,”which uses high concentration acid peels, along with dermabrasion and various hydrating agents to get the feet back into shape.

Manicures and pedicures are also very important for keeping the nails trim and avoiding problems like thick fungal and ingrown nails. These are very difficult to manage yourself. You can try some over-the-counter preparations, using them twice a day for several months. But if there is not a change and you see no new nail growth, then it is recommended to see a doctor for higher-grade prescription medications that will remove the dead fungal nail.

Heel smoothers
The lesser-grade brands that are inexpensive may not quite do the job. They are safe, but they are not that effective. If you buy a higher quality heel smoother, which you can purchase at the higher-end brand stores and department stores, they will do a better job. The caveat: Diabetics and people with poor circulation should not use these items, as they can cause problems and burns to the skin. However, if you don't have these problems, and the treatment is not effective, try a foot facial with acid peel and dermabrasion. Kerasal Exfoliating and Moisturizing Creams and Artemis Heel Smoother

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