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Pampered Soles

Feet take a beating year-round. In the summer, sun, heat and humidity all take their toll, but feet fare no better in winter, fall or spring, says Perry H. Julien, D.P.M., president-elect of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine in Rockville, Md. "They're out of sight under shoes and socks, so they're out of mind." But with these five tips, you can easily pamper your feet no matter the season.

Scrub your feet every day.
Keep a nailbrush in your shower, along with a pumice stone or foot file, and spend a few minutes focusing on your feet every time you bathe. Scrub under your nails, and rub callused, rough areas with the file or stone for up to one minute. (You can also add an exfoliating scrub to this skin-smoothing routine.) "But don't scrub so hard that you rub the skin raw," says Dawn Harvey, a nail technician at Spa Jardin in Tampa, Fla.

Some callus is necessary to help protect your feet from too much friction in shoes, so also stay away from using a razor on your heels (that goes for having it done in a salon, too). It can lead to infection if you puncture skin or use instruments not sterilized properly, adds Denise Florjancic, a nail technician at John Robert's Hair Studio & Spa in Cleveland. Your tools: Sally Hansen Smoothing Foot Scrub ($6; www.sallyhansen.com) or Bath & Body Works Foot Pumice/Brush ($4; 800-395-1001).

Clip your nails the right way.
If you leave your nails too long, they can hit the edge of your shoes and bruise. If you clip them too short, you may trigger ingrown toenails. The best advice: Every three or four weeks, after you've showered or soaked your feet, use small clippers to trim, cutting straight across, says Florjancic. If you start to notice redness or inflammation around the nail (early signs of an ingrown nail), clean out the area by soaking your foot in vinegar diluted with water, recommends Lori Hillman, D.P.M., a podiatrist in The Woodlands, Texas. If the condition persists, see a podiatrist, who can clean and drain the infection using specifically designed, sterilized tools and prescribe antibiotics if necessary. Your tools: Tweezerman toenail clippers ($2; 800-874-9898) or Revlon Deluxe Nail Clip ($1.80; www.revlon.com).

Soften your skin.
Dried, cracked foot skin? Moisturizing your feet should be your No. 1 priority. After a shower and before bed, apply a moisturizer. (Wear socks overnight to prevent the cream from rubbing off.) Your tools: Dr. Scholl's Pedicure Essentials Peppermint Foot and Leg Lotion ($4.75; www.drscholls.com), Aveda Foot Relief ($17; 800-328-0849) or Creative Nail Design SpaPedicure Marine Masque ($45; 877-CND-NAIL).

Towel-dry your toes -- and feet.
Bacteria and fungus that can lead to athlete's foot and other infections thrive in dark, moist environments - and the areas between the toes provide just that. The key: Always change out of sweaty socks and shoes, and be sure to towel-dry your feet -- and between your toes -- after swimming or showering. If you do notice flaking, scaling skin, try an over-the-counter athlete's-foot preparation like Lamisil AT cream ($9; 800-452-0051). If the problem persists longer than a week, see your doctor.

Don't skip sun protection.
It's easy to forget about your feet when you're applying sunscreen, but the truth is they can get sunburned just as quickly -- and as badly -- as any other area of your body. So if you're going to be wearing sandals or going barefoot, apply a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB-blocking) sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Your tools: Ombrelle Sunscreen Spray SPF 15 ($9; at drugstores nationwide) or DDF Sport Proof Sunscreen SPF 30 ($21; 800-443-4890).

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