Do You Need Sunscreen on Your Feet?

Jul 26, 2017

How many times have you gone out for an hour or two without sunscreen, then paid the price for it? Maybe you feel asleep a little too long by the pool, or thought you could squeeze in nine quick holes before the sun got too high in the sky.

Or how about this one: You did put on sunscreen, just not enough of it, and not in all the right places. Arms and shoulders? Totally fine. Tops of the ears though? Burnt to a crisp.

Unfortunately, for many people, the tops of feet often fall into that later category. If you’re going out in open-toed shoes (hopefully good, supportive ones instead of flip-flips!) or planning to spend some time barefoot at the pool or beach, you need to make sure your feet are protected.

Aside from avoiding a painful sunburn, the main reason that any of us use sunscreen is, of course, to reduce the risk of skin cancer. The good news is that the bottoms of your feet offer good natural protection from harmful UV rays, so you don’t really have to worry about them. But the tops of your feet—which spend most of their time directly facing the sun—are much more vulnerable.

And the truth is, the tops of your feet are one of the last places you really want to feel a sunburn—or worse, develop a form of skin cancer. There’s a very simple reason for this. In order to give you the best chance for survival and recovery, aggressive skin cancers (such as malignant melanoma) must be identified and treated as early as possible. If the signs of cancer (for example, splotchy moles that change size, color, or shape) are on your face and arms, you’ll probably notice them pretty quickly. But if they’re on your feet, it might take longer to realize a problem and seek help for it.

So the next time you’re heading out the door to relax or explore in your sandals, remember to apply the sunscreen liberally to the tops of your feet and any other spots where the sun might shine. You will keep yourself from a painful burn, and reduce your risk for much greater problems down the line.

If you have any concerns about spots on your skin, or any other issues with your feet or ankles, please make an appointment today with Dr. Darren Elenburg at the Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma. You can reach us at (405) 418-2676.

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