Get yourself foot-tastic this winter so you’re ready for those summer sandals!
Our foot health practitioner Janine has given 4 of the most common but important reasons as to why you should pay attention to your feet in winter.
- Cracked Heels/Dry Skin: This is the most common cold weather foot complaint, particularly among men. Also called “heel fissures,” these unsightly cracks can become very painful. The easiest way to help prevent heel cracks and other areas of dry skin is to apply moisturising cream daily. Shoes or boots with solid heels can help prevent skin cracks, as can padded socks which provide cushioning. If callus and hard skin develop on the heels, you can use a pumice stone to reduce the thickness. (If you suffer from diabetes, please do not attempt this – trying to smooth the skin with an abrasive surface or blade can increase the risk of infection. Instead, ask a foot health professional to do it for you.)
- Athlete’s Foot: Many people think athlete’s foot is a problem only in hot weather when heat and moisture set the stage for a fungal infection. The condition can also occur in the winter, especially when you layer up with multiple pairs of socks in your shoes. This sets the stage for sweaty feet that can’t breathe, which can lead to athlete’s foot plus a bacterial infection on top of it.
- Chilblains: This is a topic we continually discuss every winter. This condition is common in people with poor circulation and occurs when the skin is exposed to the cold and then quickly introduced to a warm environment. The cold air constricts the small blood vessels in the skin; if the skin gets hot too quickly, the blood vessels fail to react properly in time and spasm which causes blood to leak into the tissue. This results in itchy, red and, at times swollen, spots on the skin. If aggravated, they can become ulcers or cause infections, as the skin dries out and cracks. Chilblains are often found on the toes and, more specifically, on bunions and callouses, where there is more pressure on the foot. You can lessen your risk of chilblains by keeping your feet warm at all times and by avoiding the use of direct heat. Let your feet warm up slowly and gradually so the circulation can respond to the change in temperature in a healthy way. (If you suffer from diabetes or have circulatory issues and you think you have chilblains, you should see your foot health professional to minimize risks.)
- Blisters: Well-fitting and quality-made winter shoes are the key to preventing blisters. Even with the best fitting and best quality shoes, friction reigns from time to time, and repeated rubbing can cause skin irritation and blisters to develop. If your shoes are causing you blisters, it’s a sign that you shouldn’t be wearing them. Take them off and see if they can be stretched professionally at the boot-maker. You can also try extra padding between your skin and the problem area. There are a wide variety of products available from your foot health professional or pharmacy for just such issues. If you do have a blister, try to resist the urge to pop the blister yourself. Clean it with disinfectant and cover it with a good quality bandage for protection and let it heal on its own. If it opens, put a topical antiseptic to avoid infection and pay your foot health professional a visit.
If you feel any of these points relate to you then please contact the clinic and get yourself booked in for a foot health appointment. Call 01293 542245 or book online or via our app.