Winter Foot Love
Are you struggling with dry Winter skin?
As every foot health professional knows, Summer feet are made in the Winter.
The following is a very brief list of Winter foot health issues you might not be aware of and some ‘foot love’ tips on how to keep your feet healthy this Winter.
Fungi thrives in dark, warm, moist environments… and what better place than sweaty feet in thick winter socks and warm winter boots to find such a place to overpopulate. With the wrong shoe fit, microtrauma by nails hitting the shoe can increase risk of fungal infections. For diabetics and those who are immune compromised, it’s important to be aware of potential fungal growth on the nails which can begin in a variety of environments and show up as slight yellow discoloration on the nail bed, to spreading to other areas, causing breakdown of skin and lead to other conditions like cellulitis or foot ulcers. Proper foot hygiene and regular foot health check-ups by your Chiropodist or Podiatrist are the the best defense against nail fungus. Wear socks, orthotics and shoes that fit properly and wick moisture away from the feet, such as our antifungal, thermo-regulating Align Orthotics, Mediven compression socks and Dr.’s Remedy nail polishes are a great place to start.
Enclosed winter shoes and general winter foot neglect can also cause ingrown toe nails. Microtrauma can occur when wearing tight shoes as it restricts room for nail growth and increases the likelihood of developing ingrown toenails. It’s very important to regularly trim and file your toenails to keep them neat and tidy. Ingrown toenails can be painful and are at risk of serious infection if left untreated, so it is important to come see us at the first signs of discomfort.
Calluses and corns
Going from summer sandals to our enclosed winter shoes can be a big change for your feet. Irritation due to change of footwear can cause bumps resulting in callus build up or painful corns. This worsens by colder, less humid air causing the water in your skin to evaporate more quickly, making your skin feel dry and tight. This is one reason why wearing properly fitting shoes especially this time of year, can help. A general foot treatment by a licensed Chiropodist or Podiatrist can help prevent these unsightly conditions.
Wearing the correct shoes for your foot structure and biomechanics means that they are a nearest to possible perfect fit and most often this can be best achieved in quality, not fast-fashion footwear. It’s the best way to avoid bubbling on the skin known as blisters. Always opt to have your Pedorthist stretch your shoes for you, rather than having your feet break-in a pair of new shoes. If your shoes are causing you blisters, it’s a sign that you shouldn’t be wearing them or that you should see us to determine how to solve the problem via a footwear modification that considers your foot health. Whatever you do, don’t pop the blister yourself. Keep it clean with soap and water, stop wearing the culprit shoes and let it heal on its own. If it does open, apply a topical antiseptic to avoid infection and please come see us.
You’ve probably never heard of these, however those who are highly sensitive to changes in weather and cooler temperatures and have poor circulation – are more susceptible to these painful inflammation of small blood vessels on your fingers and toes. While not a serious health concern, chilblains can cause a burning sensation and red, blue or white swollen patches, intense itching, and dry skin.
Morton’s neuromas can be caused by tight-fitting footwear, which squeezes tissue and bones, against your nerves. Pinched nerves can cause burning, numbness and tingling. This painful “electric toe” is most common around the third toe, but can happen in other parts of the foot. Your feet get wider as you age, so make sure to meet with one of our Pedorthists to check your foot size and width every winter. Nerves can suffer permanent damage if not treated correctly with padding, different shoes, orthotics and/or medications to reduce the inflammation.
Constant cold can cause spasm of arteries in the extremities, especially the fingers and toes. When the body conserves heat once exposed to coldness it redirects the blood supply away from hands and feet and constricts the blood vessels there. The tissues become deprived of blood and this causes the characteristic blue or white colour change. This can lead to pain, numbness and in severe cases, gangrene. This condition is called Raynaud’s Phenomenon which can cause great discomfort lasting from just a few minutes to many hours, however, has no lasting effects. While there is not a cure for Raynaud’s Phenomenon, it is important if you have this condition to start by keeping your whole body consistently warm, especially your toes.
Slips and Falls
Got salt? Winter’s icy sidewalks and driveways are what we’re all currently treading lightly about right now. Even with a good shoe with adequate grip and ice pick bottoms such as Pajar’s Ice Gripper Winter boots, we advise you to walk carefully and not make sudden movements when your path has potential to be icy.
A few tips for walking on the ice:
- ensure your Winter boots have proper ankle support simply by feeling firmness when squeezed. This alone will reduce your chances of ankle sprains and ligament tears
- shorter strides with more of a ‘sliding’ motion, maximizing the time both feet are in contact with the ground
- with each step, aim to make contact with he midfoot instead of the heel
- bend your hips and knees more and shift weight over your front leg, without excessively leaning forward
We hope you’re better informed and prepared to avoid these conditions by ensuring your feet are ready and protected this Winter.
We are here to help ensure you practice Winter foot love!
This information is provided for general health and wellness awareness and does not constitute as medical advice. It is not meant to be used, diagnosed or treat medical conditions. For diagnosis or treatment of a medical condition always consult your Physician.