You may be tempted to neglect your feet during the colder months. As the saying goes, after all, “out of sight, out of mind.” But just because they are hidden away in your new pair of boots, doesn’t mean you should ignore your feet once the temperature drops.
It is important to check your feet during winter rather than waiting until there is a problem. Healthy feet are fundamental for overall health. Foot problems affect every part of your life, from standing and walking to exercising and taking part in your daily activities.
With that in mind, here are some top tips for keeping your feet healthy this winter:
Put away your summer footwear and invest in quality winter shoes and boots. Your footwear choices play a big role in your foot health – all year long. This means you should sport models that will keep your feet warm and dry.
Winter shoes and boots also need to have thick soles and adequate grip so your feet can remain stable on slippery surfaces – which is obviously important when the ground is covered in snow and ice.
Take proper measures to reduce the risk for fungal infections. Keeping feet warm during our colder months is an obvious goal for your winter footwear. Unfortunately, boots and closed-toe shoes can lead to extra sweating. In turn, this contributes to toenail fungus and athlete’s foot.
The good news is there are steps you can take to lower your risk.
As a starting point, wear socks with moisture-wicking properties and that have improved breathability.
This is good practice throughout the entire year, but alternate your footwear every other day. An extra 24 hours between wear gives each pair a better opportunity to dry completely, which is important because fungus needs moisture to survive.
Keeping with the theme of “reducing moisture,” pass on wearing toenail polish during the winter. Your feet are usually hidden anyhow, and your toes won’t miss the extra moisture (but any fungi will!).
Prevent and treat dry heels. The problem with excessively dry skin is that it can become cracked and fissured. This not only may be painful, but it also creates an entry way for microorganisms into the body.
Fortunately, dry skin is treatable and can be prevented from happening in the first place.
With regards to prevention, you may want to rub petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) onto your heels after your bath or shower. This works because the petroleum jelly acts as a sealant – locking in the moisture so it doesn’t evaporate. Another approach that can work well is to massage a thick moisturizing cream into your feet, which also stimulates circulation.
Treatment for an existing case of dry heels can include those steps, along with using a pumice stone to smooth out rough or callused skin. When doing this, start by softening the stone with water and then gently rubbing it on the heels. Be sure to keep in mind the fact your goal is not to try and debride all dry skin in a single session!
Stay active. The motivation to exercise and work out can start to fade away as temperatures drop and the days shorten, but becoming inactive can be a big mistake. Moving your body helps to generate heat and keeps a healthy blood flow going down to your feet.
Of course, one of the best winter (or any season!) foot care tips is to come see us at the office of Kevin J. Powers, DPM if you need professional treatment. Remember, it is always best to address a problem early, so contact us today by calling (812) 333-4422.