It’s always important to follow your local podiatrist’s foot care tips and pay attention to the health of your feet — after all, your feet contain a fourth of the total bones in your body, and it’s fairly easy for small problems to get worse if you don’t educate yourself on symptoms and dedicate time to taking care of your feet. But in the winter, it can be even more important to give your feet a little extra scrutiny. Here are a few foot care tips that can help you weather the cold temperatures yet to come:
- Take the Cold Seriously
Frostbite often sounds like something settlers and pioneers needed to worry about, not modern-day North Americans. But just an hour of exposure at the seemingly mild temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s not much below freezing) can lead to irreparable damage. Wear proper socks and boots to prevent frostbite in the feet. If you suspect you’ve been mildly frostbitten, use warm — never hot — water to gently bathe the affected area at home. If the skin begins to blister or swell, that’s a sign you need immediate medical attention.
- Wear Well-Fitted Shoes
Since you’re likely to spend much of the winter wearing closed-toed boots and shoes, it’s very important that these fit well. Improperly fitted shoes, especially those that are too loose in the ankle or too tight on the toes, can cause a host of injuries to the ankle and foot, including sprains, ingrown toenails, blisters and bunions.
- Moisturize Regularly
Skin tends to get dry in the winter, so it’s important to apply lotion after washing your feet. This will prevent cracks, which can easily get infected.
- Watch Out for Discoloration
When you’re wearing socks, shoes and slippers, it’s easy for foot discoloration — an important symptom for many foot problems of varying severities — to go unnoticed. It’s normal for skin to be a little pink when you come in from the cold, but any lasting change in skin color (whether it’s blue, purple, red or yellow) should be checked out by a podiatrist.
- Pay Attention to Mechanics
If you take part in winter sports or continue running outside throughout the icy season, you’ll probably need to make some adjustments in your placement to compensate for slippery surfaces. It’s important, however, to make sure that you not change your footstrike pattern or overuse weak muscles to provide stability. If you’re not sure how to adjust your activities for winter conditions, a sports podiatrist may be able to help.
Do you have any other foot care tips to share that can keep people up and about during the winter? Add your thoughts in the comments.