Winter Foot Care Tips
1. Dress for the Occasion.
As the weather gets colder, feet need more protection from the elements, especially those with neuropathy, who may not feel temperature change in their feet. It’s easy to throw on some minimal flats rationalizing that you’re just going to “run to the car.” This is fine, as long as you store some warm shoes/boots and socks in your car. If you have a roadside emergency, you don’t want to be standing in the snow without adequate footwear!
2. Not all Socks Are Created Equal.
When it comes to shopping for winter socks, you need to know your fabrics. Gone are the days of thick cotton monstrosities. Fabrics today are designed to keep your feet at the proper temperature while wicking away moisture. Think Thermax and Smartwool. You can also try wearing a nylon sock close to the foot and cotton sock as a second pair.
Beware of sweaty sock syndrome during the winter when you wear closed shoes all day, especially with all cotton style socks that keep moisture close to the foot. Proper socks do a lot to help, but if you are worried, try an antifungal product to prevent athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.
3. Kids and Seniors
Some feet need extra protection. Kids’ small bodies are easily chilled, so it’s important to make sure they are dressed adequately to be running through the snow at recess. Waterproof shoes/boots are a great choice to keep feet dry, and winter appropriate socks are a must. If kids complain about wearing snow boots to school, compromise by letting them bring an extra pair of less bulky shoes to change into once they are inside.
Seniors feet also need extra care. Neuropathy, poor circulation, and difficulty dressing can lead to cold, over-exposed, and even frostbitten feet. If you care for a senior ensure they are wearing proper socks before going out. Store summer socks away during the colder months to make choosing socks easy.
4. Exfoliate and Moisturize.
Most people recognize the importance of moisturizing during dry months, but don’t forget to exfoliate, too. Exfoliation removes dead skin that builds up and can crack, leading to infection and wounds. If you have a callus that needs to be removed, make sure to come in and see your podiatrist; don’t try to trim them on your own. This can lead to infection, or wounds by cutting too deep into the skin.
Being sedentary will decrease circulation and increase swelling, both of which can lead to foot complications. During the winter, it can be hard to get motivated to go out into the cold and dark to exercise, but it is well worth the effort for the numerous health benefits. If you’re not a snow lover, try starting an indoor exercise program at home or at a gym.
Getting involved in outdoor winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing can also be a great way to stay fit and healthy over the winter. Activity specific winter footwear can help these activities to be more enjoyable. If the cold weather limits how long you stay on the slopes, try microwaving the heat-activated boot liners before you go, to keep feet toasty during your run.
Bonus: being active will release hormones and neurotransmitters that help you beat the bad weather blues!