At some point this year — probably June or July, according to most state legislators — coronavirus restrictions will ease and we will all re-emerge, like bears from their slumber, into polite society. To help you readjust, we’re sharing some advice on grooming, fitness, getting dressed in something besides sweatpants (but also sweatpants), how to manage your stress and mental health, dating, concert and bar etiquette, and more.
For the past week, we’ve covered almost every aspect of how you, a human being, can help ease yourself back into society where you will, regrettably, be judged for how you weathered the pandemic and all those months spent cooped up inside. We started at the very top, offering advice from mental health experts on how to manage any anxiety and awkwardness you might be feeling about a post-pandemic life. Then we made our way down to your beach or dad bods, focused on your soon-to-be honey-glazed-Christmas-ham-like thighs for a minute, and now we have landed at your likely neglected, unsightly feet.
The Great Re-Emergence, as we know, has aligned almost poetically with summer, the season of sandy beaches, pool decks and open-toed shoes. If they haven’t already been, your poor, forgotten soles will probably be on full display soon, whether you’re hitting the beach or a hotel pool, or even just walking the dog in a pair of flip-flops. And we’re not encouraging you to cover them up. We know debates over whether men should wear Birkenstocks or other toe-baring shoes arise every summer, but we’re not here to shame anyone’s bare feet (we’re actually very pro-sandal.) However, these male foot haters often make an argument that’s hard to dispute: No one wants to see a man’s unpedicured, gross (possibly fungal?) toes. And it’s no secret that, as a species, men are not as attentive to their feet as women are.
“Most men who come to my practice have waited until they have little choice,” Dr. Suzanne Levine, a board-certified podiatric foot surgeon and aesthetic podiatrist at New York City’s Millennium Podiatry tells InsideHook.
“Pain from a stress fracture. Ingrown toenails with inflammation or even pus. Fungal nails, thick, yellow, beginning to stink. Men are stoics to the point of endangering their health. Women show up with the merest hint of … something they read about or heard from a friend.”
So before you rip those socks off and expose us all to your nasty pandemic feet, please clean them up. If not for superficial reasons, then for your own health because …
Besides looking unsightly, health issues can arise if you’re inattentive to your feet
“Although cliches are frowned upon, they certainly apply here. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” says Levine.
For example, you might think you can push through the pain of an ingrown toenail, but it’s better to treat it early before it gets infected. A stress fracture or shin splints left untreated can progress to outright fractures and more prolonged treatments, while fungal nails can spread to other nails and to other family members Levine explains.
How to maintain your feet at home
According to Levine, here are some steps you can take at home to ensure your feet stay clean and free of infection:
- After showering, dry thoroughly — including between your toes.
- To avoid ingrown toenails, cut your nails straight across and not too short.
- As noted above, see your podiatrist sooner rather than later if a problem is developing such as athlete’s foot or if you’re experiencing foot pain.
- Change your socks every day and rotate your shoes. Try not to use the same pair every day — they have to dry out from perspiration.
Grow up and head to your local nail salon
Getting a professional pedicure is an easy, relaxing way to spruce up those barking dogs — and to give credit where credit’s due, more and more men are, in fact, keeping their feet properly groomed, according to Levine. Tons of men get pedicures, but there are still negative, outdated connotations associated with men indulging in self-care and pampering. As a man, you might be self-conscious about going to the nail salon. We’re obviously here to say you should not be, especially if you have a partner or are actively looking for someone who will eventually see and rub up against your feet.
“If you are having a pedicure and your ‘more manly’ friend who thinks he’s above pedicures sees you, invite him to join you. Tell them that women do not like to be speared while in bed by overly long and improperly cut toenails,” says Levine
You can also check out the services your podiatrist’s office offers. “At Millennium Podiatry, we have developed a treatment we call a Foot-Facial. And yes, men love this treatment,” Levine notes. “After examining your feet for any problems, we cut and file your toenails, use mild organic acids to exfoliate dead and dry skin, moisturize and massage your feet.”
“We also provide custom-made orthotics. These help prevent foot and ankle problems, such as plantar fasciitis, and help reduce the pain of some foot problems that are preexisting,” she adds.
Mind your flip-flops
We know you’re ready to feel the sun on your toes (we are too), but open-toed shoes and running around barefoot aren’t always the safest options for your feet, which is why Levine recommends limiting barefoot walking and minimalistic shoes — oh and be careful of flip-flops as they increase your chance of tripping and breaking your ass.
Ultimately though, do yourself (and all of us) a favor and pamper your feet. “Take proper care of them. They get a lot of wear and tear,” adds Levine. And once you’re done that, treat your new feet to a celebratory and salacious post-pandemic open-toed shoe.