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Damage control for your feet this summer

It's flip-flop season, but if your feet took more of a beating last winter than Goldman Sachs' PR team, it's time for damage control. Even tough guys are hesitant to get out of hot sneaks if what's inside are calluses, heel cracks and thick, yellow nails. Here's how to like yourself naked from the ankles down:


1 Keep them dry. Fungi, yeast and bacteria love warm, moist places, so don't give them a chance to snuggle in and corrupt and discolor your nails. Avoid being among the 12 percent of Americans with onychomycosis (fungal infection). Get out of sweaty shoes fast after a walk. Towel-dry wet feet, including between the toes, with your own towel.


2 Cushion them. Slip on well-padded athletic shoes when you'll be standing awhile. Price doesn't always equal quality, but athletic shoes are one thing you could overpay for to gain quality. Dead skin, aka calluses, builds from putting too much pressure on feet often. To prevent heel pain, check for shock absorption in the heels.


3. Trim nails. Keep nails short so they won't curve into the skin or allow infection-causing bacteria to gather beneath them. To soften thick toenails before cutting, soak them in warm saltwater for five or 10 minutes, then massage in a urea-containing cream (Eucerin or Aqua Care). Use industrial-strength nail cutters, since wimpy ones will split nails.

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