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Summer feet by Kate Brian

It's time to get your feet into summer sandals, but are they ready to be exposed to the world at large or does the sunny weather make you realise that your toes are in need of some love and attention? If your feet are feeling, and looking, neglected, a pedicure may be just the ticket.

Most pedicures are carried out by beauticians, and are great if you just need your toes polished and your feet given a bit of a soak and scrub, but after a winter hidden away your feet may be better served by a medical pedicure.  What's sometimes known as a "medi-ped" is a more thorough foot treatment carried out by a qualified podiatrist, another name for the possibly more familiar chiropodist. A podiatrist is a trained specialist who knows all about feet and can spot any existing or developing problems and offer advice on how to deal with them.

I'd always wanted to try a medical pedicure, but the idea of spending money on my feet seemed rather indulgent - until I thought about how hard my feet work every day and how little attention they get. We tend to accept the need to spend our hard-earned cash hair cuts or colouring without too much thought, but our feet probably deserve far more care than most of us give them.

I opted for a forty-five minute session with a lead podiatrist, who was both charming and very professional. For me, the first surprise was that a medical pedicure doesn't involve any sitting around with your feet soaking in a foot spa as it is carried out on dry feet. The podiatrist, Tamara, began by inspecting my feet and carefully cutting my toe nails. She then got out what looked like a small drill, and proceeded to smooth the nails and get rid of the dead skin around the cuticles. It looked rather alarming, but tickled rather than causing any discomfort. Tamara told me that my main problem is dry skin on my feet, and got to work with an industrial-looking file, releasing clouds of dead skin before moistursning with oil and lotion. Throughout the session she gave me tips on how to look after my feet, advice on shoes and even on nail polish.

By the end of the medical pedicure, my feet looked and felt completely different; soft and smooth, with neat nails and no sign of any hard skin. The medical pedicure can be followed by a nail polish and I had my nails painted a cheery bright red. I kept finding myself looking proudly down at my feet on the way home, but what was most amazing was the way that the medical pedicure has lasted. I was given some 'homework' and told to file the skin and moisturise every day which I did religiously for the first week and then rather neglected - even so a couple of months later my feet look far better than they did before the medical pedicure.

It was podiatrist Margaret Dabbs who made the medical pedicure popular in the UK, and I visited her Marylebone clinic for my treatment. The Margaret Dabbs clinics are hard to beat for sheer luxury, and are renowned for their celebrity clientele. Medical pedicures start at £80 a session, and opting for the principle podiatrist will add to the price considerably, but as a special treat for your feet it's an expense you won't regret. 

A session with your local podiatrist can be considerably cheaper and is really worth considering rather than automatically heading for a beauty salon for a pedicure if your feet need attention. The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists is the professional body for podiatrists and has a list of suitably qualified practitioners.

It's particularly important to take care of your feet during the summer months, and our tips for happy summer feet will help you on the way.

  • Make sure you change your footwear regularly - don't wear the same shoes every day for weeks.
  • Don't wear flip-flops all the time during the summer as they don't provide enough support for your feet. 
  • Don't cut toenails too short and always cut them straight across.
  • Use a foot file or pumice stone to prevent the build up of dead skin.
  • Always use an undercoat if you are using nail polish.
  • Moisturise feet daily, or even twice a day during warmer months if you are prone to cracked heels. 
  • Wearing open sandals is good during hot weather to prevent your feet sweating too much.  If you do need to wear socks, cotton or wool socks are best as they will help to keep your feet dry.


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