4 Top Tips For Avoiding Winter Foot Woes

A line of feet wearing socks on a fluffy white rug

December is here and we’re heading into winter. Daylight seems to slip away and nights become longer. The cold weather is moving in (even here in California) and we see the change of seasons. 

As winter weather moves in, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons warns that foot problems and injuries are common. Foot injuries, cracked heels, frostbite, and athlete’s foot are just a few common foot problems that can cause problems in the winter months.

Fall and winter require you to make some changes in how you care for your feet, especially if you have a history of diabetes or circulation problems. So enjoy these winter foot care tips!

Chilblains: A cold weather risk

Also known as “pernio,” chilblains are painful inflammations of small blood vessels in your skin. Symptoms include small itchy red patches on the skin, swelling, and a burning sensation. They are most common on the hands and feet.

Their exact cause is unknown, but they occur after repeated exposure to cold (but not freezing) temperatures. They may be a reaction to cooling and then rewarming the skin, as small blood vessels re-expand. Having poor circulation or Raynaud’s phenomenon puts you at higher risk for developing chilblains.

When going out in cold temperatures, make sure your skin is covered with well-fitting boots, mittens, and loose layers. If you have concerns about any pain, burning, or discomfort on your feet, contact your podiatrist (DPM).

Top 4 Tips For Winter Foot Health

Woman and dog in matching slippers1. How to keep feet warm in winter

I don’t know about you, but I hate having cold feet. Your feet are already the coldest part of your body, and cold temperatures slow blood flow to the extremities (i.e. your feet), making it worse. People with poor circulation are more at-risk for winter foot problems, but even people with healthy feet are at risk when temperatures drop.

Swap out your summer sandals for some warmer alternatives. Wearing house slippers indoors is a good start; a good pair of socks can also make a huge difference indoors and outside.

Why do my feet sweat in the winter?

There is a fine line between keeping feet toasty and creating a sweaty, stinky environment. Layering thick socks or socks that don’t breathe can trap in sweat, leaving feet wrinkly and smelly and creating a perfect environment for bacteria and fungus to grow.

Merino wool is a great material for keeping feet warm and dry.

2. How to heal cracked dry feet

The soles of your feet contain both the highest concentration of sweat glands and the thickest skin on your body. During winter, decreased sweating combines with colder and drier air to parch and thicken the skin on your soles.

Dry, cracked feet may not seem urgent, but severely dry skin can result in fissures. These deep cracks in the skin can lead to foot pain, bleeding, and bacterial infections.

Many people experience dry cracked heels during the cooler months. Here are some tips to care for dry cracked feet:

    • Stay hydrated
    • Wear proper socks and shoes
    • Perform foot soaks with warm water and a tablespoon of olive oil
    • Moisturize regularly with lotion or foot cream

Many podiatrists can provide more powerful moisturizers if over-the-counter treatments are not enough to keep your heels happy!

3. Keep an eye on your toes!

The fall and winter seasons are a great time to give your toenails a break from nail polish. The cycle of nail polish and nail polish remover can be harmful to nails, so this is a great time to restore natural nail health. 

You should also be thoroughly washing and drying your feet. Use this time (especially if you already have neuropathy or other foot health issues) to check over your feet and toes for any injuries. Blisters and ingrown toenails can quickly escalate to larger problems if left unaddressed!

4. Watch the sizing on your winter shoes!

Poorly-fitting shoes are a problem any time of year, but boots introduce a new variety of problem. Because people only wear their snow and ski boots in the winter, they don’t always know what fit or sizing they need.

Close up of boots secured onto skisSkiing and snowboarding in ill-fitting boots actually causes its own foot condition: skier’s toe. Too-small boots compress your toes, too-big boots let your feet slide around; either way, your toe hits the front of the boot, bruises the nailbed, and may cause the toenails to fall off!

It’s extra important to make sure your kids have properly-fitted snow boots. It can be tempting to buy your kid’s shoes a size up so they can wear them longer, but over-sized boots can lead to chafing, blisters, and foot or ankle injuries. Socks or shoes that are too tight can force toes to rub together, causing blisters or calluses. 

See University Foot and Ankle Institute for your Winter Foot Concerns

If you’re experiencing problems with your feet in any way, we’re here to help. Our nationally recognized foot and ankle specialists offer the most advanced podiatric care with the highest success rates in the nation. We are leaders in the research and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or visit us here to make an appointment online.

Our podiatrists take patients’ safety seriously. Our podiatry facility’s Covid-19 patient safety procedures exceed all the CDC’s coronavirus pandemic recommendations. Masks are always required in our institutes.

University Foot and Ankle Institute is conveniently located throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area as our foot doctors are available at locations in or near Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Northridge, Downtown Los Angeles, Westlake Village, Granada Hills, and Valencia.

One comment

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