Why Your Feet Swell In The Summer And What You Can Do About It

June 22, 2015 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

Sandal weather has us excited to break out bright nail polish, anklets and sexy shoes, but the dark side of all of those hot days and nights can be swollen feet, a common complaint once temperatures start soaring. But why does it happen and how can we prevent and treat the problem that keeps us from looking and feeling out best? “Swelling, also referred to as edema, is the result of fluid build up in the body,” says Dr. Gary Evans, board certified podiatrist and inventor of daniPro nail polish. “Gravity helps this fluid find a place in your feet and ankles.” As you might suspect, high temperatures can promote fluid retention and make it impossible to fit your feet into your regular size 7 shoes.

Many women who suffer from summer swelling are more upset about the fact that they just dropped $100 on a great pair of sandals they can’t fit into than the actual fact that their feet are swollen. Before you toss your gorgeous shoes into the back of your closet and resign yourself to wearing boots all season long, Dr. Jackie Sutera offers a few great tips to keep in mind.

“The ‘summer spread’ results when your feet don’t have enough support,” Sutera says. “Opt for flat shoes to prevent swelling from occurring, and also look for styles that offer arch and ankle support, which will prevent and relieve conditions such as arch and heel pain. For added support, slide PROFOOT’s Orthotic insole into your shoes for extra cushioning, shock absorption, and arch support, which will provide relief to the balls-of-feet, arches, and heels. This extra support will keep your feet bound in place, to prevent them from expanding in the summer heat.”

If you find your feet are already swollen and you aren’t sure what to do with those fab new shoes, Sutera says there are more inexpensive solutions than taking them to a shoe cobbler (no offense to cobblers, who are golden in my eyes). “Try PROFOOT shoe stretchers so you can continue wearing those shoes you love without having to spend extra cash on the cobbler.”

Although the infamous “summer spread” is most evident in warm weather, foot swelling can happen at any time of the year, according to Dr. Bruce Pinker, a podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon and founder of Dr. D-LuCS. If unsupportive shoes are not the culprit for your swollen feet, here are some other potential causes and simple solutions for each according to Pinker.

1. High blood pressure. Consult with a doctor to find out if it’s necessary to adjust your medication.

2. Water retention. Try compression stockings or flow-tron compression therapy. You can also speak to your doctor about taking a diuretic (water pill).

3. Arthritis. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, there are several medications you can speak to your doctor about, including Humira.

4. Overworking your feet. If you’re constantly on your feet, or do quite a bit of walking or running, remember to stretch out thoroughly prior to exercising and to cool down properly afterwards.

5. Foot or ankle sprain. Seek the attention of a podiatrist for a proper evaluation and X-ray and consider physical therapy and supportive strappings/bracing.

6.  Infection. Make an appointment with a doctor for an evaluation. You may need to be prescribed an antibiotic.

7. Allergic reaction. To relieve foot and ankle swelling, consider physical therapy and orthopedic strappings, in addition to supportive footwear (no higher than a 2.5 inch heel, only sandals with ankle straps, and shoes/sneakers with laces are preferred). Taking anti-inflammatories or Tylenol can be helpful for short-term relief, but anti-inflammatories must be taken with caution for those at risk of hypertension, stomach ulcers, and those who are already taking blood thinners.

Other common causes of edema are pregnancy and recent weight gain, Evans says. Additional solutions he suggests for foot swelling include elevating your feet so that your ankles rest above the level of your heart, avoiding salt, which increases fluid tension, and increasing your walking and exercise. “The leg and foot muscles are excellent ‘pumps’ to keep the fluids moving,” he says.

One swollen foot treatment you’ll most certainly welcome? Visiting the spa for regular pedicures, which pedicure expert Starr Arias of Ogle School says make a significant improvement. “Soaking in Epson salts made of magnesium sulfate that is absorbed through the skin is also effective, Arias said. “Add anti-inflammatory essential oils–such as peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, or lavender–to your massage oil or bathwater. Massage encourages better blood flow in the lower extremities. If you have significant swelling for long periods of time you may need to visit your physician.”

For more beauty tips, find out why charcoal is having a major beauty moment and lotions 101.

[Photo: The Fashion Guitar]


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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