With the warm weather approaching, an internationally acclaimed podiatrist recommends soaking in Epsom salt to reduce swelling and other foot irritations that are common in the summer.
“Our feet tend to swell more from the summer heat, looking less attractive at a time when they are more visible in open shoes,” says Dr. Suzanne Levine, a celebrity podiatrist who has been named one of America’s Top Podiatrists by Consumers’ Research Council of America.
“Treat your feet the way you treat your face,” she says, repeating one of her often-quoted instructions.
Levine founded the Institute Beauté on Manhattan’s Park Avenue, and she has authored seven books, including the best-seller My Feet are Killing Me. Known in Manhattan as the “Park Avenue Podiatrist” or “Podiatrist in High Heels,” Levine has often been interviewed by the nation’s top media, including the Today show, Good Morning America, The View, CNN, 20/20, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, Access Hollywood, The New York Times, Vogue, Elle and People.
“Swelling can cause problems year-round, but it’s especially troublesome in the summer, when people wear sandals and other shoes with straps,” she says. “The inflammation aggravates bunions, bursas, corns and hammer toes.”
“Your feet have swollen to a size 8.5, and now you’re trying to squeeze into an 8 or 7.5,” Levine says. “It’s like trying to squeeze into a dress after you put on weight.”
To combat the swelling and soothe sore feet, Levine recommends adding half a cup of Epsom salt to a gallon of lukewarm water and soaking your feet for 15 minutes at the end of the day.
“Ideally, it would be done every day, but if people are too busy, it should be done at least three times a week,” Levine says.
You can also make a paste with Epsom salt and use it to exfoliate your feet, Levine says. Her recipe: mix half a cup of Epsom salt with a holistic, natural moisturizing agent, such as 5% or 10% glycolic cream. She keeps a Tupperware container with the paste in the shower, she says.
“It’s fabulous,” Levine says. “It works on the callouses, makes the hard skin disappear and makes the foot feel better.”
Other foot advice from Dr. Levine:
- Prevent ingrown toenails by trimming toenails straight across without cutting into the sides.
- Use a pumice stone and a moisturizing agent to soothe callouses.
- Bring your own equipment to your nail spa to help guard against fungus and other infections.
- Apply zinc oxide sunscreen to your feet to reduce sun damage, including sun burn, premature aging of your skin and hyperpigmentation (an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color.)
Note: For human use, the Epsom Salt Council recommends only Epsom salt with the USP designation.