Beach Feet: 6 Dangers Lurking in the Sand
The weather is hot, the sun is shining and it's off to the beach you go! But like most things in life, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt; and your vacation at the beach is no exception.
The beach is filled with hazards that can quickly turn your relaxing vacation into a trip to see your physician or podiatrist if you're not careful. Here are some things to keep in mind during your next trip to enjoy the sand, surf, and sunshine:
- Cuts and Puncture Wounds: The beach is littered with sharp shells, discarded trash and other debris lurking in the sand and on the boardwalk. All it takes is one wrong step and you can end up with a cut or puncture wound on your foot. If you sustain a cut on your foot, you should immediately rinse it out with soapy water to ensure all sand and bacteria has been flushed out of the wound before covering it with a band aide. If it is a large and deep wound, you should have it evaluated by a physician or podiatrist as soon as possible to ensure that no ligaments, tendons or nerves of the foot have been damaged.
- Burns on the Bottom of Your Feet: That summer sand and asphalt parking lot can get HOT! If you happen to walk barefoot on either you can easily scorch the bottom of your feet and leave you with painful blisters and burnt skin. Always keep a pair of shoes on hand!
- Sunburns: Many people don't think about putting sunscreen on their feet when lathering up – but you should! Your feet are just as susceptible as other areas of your body to sunburn and skin cancer. Be sure to put sunscreen on the top and bottom of your feet.
- Jellyfish: Jellyfish often wash up on beaches which piques people's curiosity to check them out. But while you're investigating, you may accidentally step on their tentacles, which can wrap around your feet, causing painful stings.If you find yourself amidst a jellyfish attack, carefully remove the tentacles without touching them with your fingers. Then rinse the affected area with vinegar or seawater—not freshwater or urine as widely believed. If you have the supplies on hand, a mixture of saltwater and baking soda will also help stop the burning.
- Arch Pain: Walking on soft or uneven surfaces such as sand can cause inflammation or tearing of the posterior tibial tendon. The main function of the tendon is to hold up the arch and support the foot when walking. Because of overuse, the tendon can't provide stability or support for the arch of the foot, sometimes resulting in a tear. You may feel a sharp, pulling sensation on the inside of the arch or ankle. This condition is more common in those with flat feet. Rest, immobilization and anti-inflammatories usually help, but orthotics and physical therapy might be beneficial for those who frequently have inflammation. Wearing good walking shoes while strolling on the beach is the most immediate way to prevent a tear.
- Ankle Sprains: Walking along the beach or playing beach volleyball are a favorite pastime for many people, but that can result in an injury if you're not careful. Sand provides an uneven surface when walking, which can cause your ankle to roll to one side or the other, causing a sprain. If you plan to take a stroll along the coast or join a game of volleyball, be sure to wear athletic shoes to stabilize your ankle and provide arch support.
About the Author
Titorya Stover, DPM is a podiatrist with Triad Foot and Ankle Center