That's Eligible?! Toes in the water, arches in the sand...


No, that's not exactly how the Zac Brown song goes. (This is a family publication, after all.) But for many of us, summer is just like that song -- all about bare feet, flip flops, and carefree times to wear a little and relax a lot.

Well, you may not feel it now, but summer can take its toll on your feet. If you're like us, you've walked barefoot on enough concrete and sand by mid-July that you probably don't even feel it, but your feet can end up taking a lot of abuse.

So, it might not be a "sexy" topic, but if you spend a lot of time shoeless during the summer months, you might want to read on.

Pick the right shoes

It might seem obvious, but foot care begins with footwear. As much as we all love slides and beach shoes, they're not really designed to give you the support you need for foot health.

But don't worry - we're not recommending you throw them out. Just make sure you spend some time in a good pair of sneakers, with plenty of midsole support for your arches, sturdy lacing, and outsoles with enough traction to handle different types of terrain, whether it's on sand, stone or sidewalk.

Skin care...for your feet?

You spend the entire summer protecting your skin… well, your feet need the same attention! For starters, always use a good sunscreen on your feet. But beyond that, walking on hot, rough surfaces with bare skin can leave feet achy with blisters and calluses. These can be formed from buildups of unwanted hard skin from repeated friction. Fortunately, your FSA can cover a wide range of products to help.

Corn and callus remover

From corn cushions, to callus removers, to bunion pads, your feet might benefit with some simple OTC treatment. Not to mention you can also purchase a corn and callus remover to help get rid of dead skin and keep your feet feeling baby smooth...or at least smoother than they were.

FSA-eligible topical solutions

And, while no one likes to talk about it, if you happened to get a foot fungus of some sort (public pools, we're looking at you) don't worry. These are common ailments, and FSA-eligible topical solutions can treat conditions like athlete's foot, plantar warts and other annoyances the summer may have left you with.

Foot pain

Being on your feet for long periods of time (like during hikes, volleyball tournaments, music festivals, etc.) can lead to unexpected foot pain. Instead of waiting for it to go away, be proactive about the pain and meet it head on.

Of course, your first stop needs to be to a doctor, to make sure your foot pain isn't caused by something more serious. Podiatrists can handle any number of foot and ankle problems, but not all treatments are covered by insurance plans. If not, your FSA can help offset the costs of:

  • Podiatrist appointments and checkups
  • X-rays, MRIs and lab work (including copays, coinsurance and lab fees)
  • Prescription meds
  • Orthotics and insoles

Shoe insoles and cushions

Speaking of which, once you see the doctor, they might recommend something as simple as shoe insoles and cushions to ease stress on your feet by providing ample support and cushioning for whatever might be aching.

Custom orthotics

If your foot pain is a little more severe or you've been suffering from regular discomfort, the doc will probably move you toward custom orthotics to correct the foot pain, and maybe also to alleviate possible neuromuscular and skeletal ailments. While these orthotics may cost a little more, they typically last longer and prove to be more beneficial for your foot health than a generic, "one size fits all" shoe insert you buy over the counter.

(But do your due diligence -- make sure the supports you buy are sized correctly for your feet and shoes! Otherwise, they're not doing what they're supposed to.)

As always, we're not doctors, so if you're having some foot discomfort, make an appointment and get it checked out. Because the sooner you do that, the sooner you'll be able to enjoy the rest of the season, pain-free. Whether you put your toes in the water (or anything else in the sand) is entirely up to you.


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