"AT THE END of summer, I always get a whole crop of patients," said Manhattan-based foot doc Jackie Sutera, speaking on behalf of the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Wearing flip-flops can lead to "tendonitis, arch pain, plantar fasciitis . . . stress fractures, hammertoe formation . . . and skin fissures."

Such conditions occur, explained Temple University podiatrist Josh Moore, because "[d]uring the rest of the year, we're wearing shoes that give us a little support, but with flip-flops, you're walking on a flat surface, which causes the muscles to work differently."

Flip-flop wearers may over-grip with their toes, which can lead to foot stress and deformity. "You can step on glass, on a nail," Moore said. He's also treated flop fans with blisters on their second toes.

Invest in models with thicker soles, arch support and, if possible, straps, Sutera said, "These types of shoes shouldn't be worn all day, every day, or for excessive standing or walking."

If you do wear them daily, she said, clean them, every day.

- Lauren McCutcheon