Winter brings family, friends, and warm feelings, but it also brings frigid temperatures and the occasional heavy snow. Whether you love or loathe the winter season, you will have to prepare for certain injury risks that threaten everyone in colder months. As you get ready for shopping, skating, and sledding, you should also take a few easy steps to protect against harmful foot conditions.
How to Keep Your Feet Healthy Throughout the Winter
Many people focus on the day-to-day demands of the season, and it's no surprise that people prefer decorating and entertaining to winter foot care. Fortunately, it only takes a few small considerations to keep you on your feet through the new year, most of which require minimal effort and less than five minutes to complete.
Before the cold and snow are here to stay, make sure to:
- Check your boots. People often use the same pair of boots year after year, not realizing how this can affect the fit. Loose boots can cause chafing as the foot slides back and forth, causing blisters or calluses and, boots that are too tight can lead to ingrown toenails or corns. Always choose a pair of boots that have enough roof for your toes, do not chafe heels, offer support for your arches and ankles, and are also waterproof.
- Moisturize. Colder weather brings a dryness in the air, which gets worse as we run indoor heating systems. If you rely on steaming showers or baths to stay warm in the winter, you could be making dry skin worse, as hot water can also draw moisture out. You can help replenish your skin by keeping your showers short and mild and applying moisturizer to your body and feet daily. However, if you're suffering from diabetes, you should be careful not to put lotion between your toes. This can have the opposite effect, pulling too much moisture into these spaces and increasing the risk of a fungal infection.
- Wear good socks. Heavy socks and waterproof boots are a necessity in the winter, but they can lead to excessively sweaty feet. Wearing boots for long periods can encourage the growth of smelly bacteria and fungus, making it more likely that you will suffer athlete's foot or fungal toenails. Avoid wearing boots unless you are walking outdoors, and always wear socks that wick moisture away from the feet. When you remove your boots, allow them to air out in a sunny, well-ventilated area.
- Warm up naturally. People with diabetes are more likely to suffer cold feet due to poor circulation. However, using heating pads or other heat sources directly on your feet can put you at risk of burn injuries. If your feet are cold, put on a pair of clean socks and slippers with a rubber sole and warm your core. The added heat will gradually circulate around your body, allowing you to avoid frostbite and foot ulcers.
- Watch your step! Icy streets, hidden curbs, and slippery steps are constant hazards through the winter—and one false step could cause a sprained ankle or fractured foot. Always salt icy areas around your home, and walk slowly and with short strides to avoid losing your balance on slick surfaces. If the tread on your boots has worn down, you may want to replace them for a pair with added grip, or invest in a pair of slip-on spikes that fit over your shoes for more traction.
If you are having trouble with your feet, it is vital that you make an appointment with our foot and ankle specialists as soon as possible. At Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry, we offer free initial consultations and create a customized treatment plan to get you back to the things you love as soon as possible. Simply fill out our online contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET to set up your first visit.