Most people get concerned about the health and appearance of their feet during the summer months. But by the time winter rolls around, feet are all but forgotten, shoved back into boots and heavy sneakers.
James McGuire and Howard Palamarchuk, podiatrists at Temple University’s School of Podiatric Medicine, say it’s just as important, if not more so, to be vigilant about foot care during colder months, when falling temperatures, drier air, ice and snow and closed-toe shoes can contribute to foot problems.
Here they offer five tips to keep you on your feet this winter.
Invest in some good shoes
You may need to cough up the extra cash to buy some decent winter shoes. Trying to put thick socks into thin summer sneakers isn’t the way to go. A good winter shoe should be waterproof, have enough room to fit two pairs of socks to insulate feet and prevent moisture buildup, and have a gripping sole to prevent slips and falls.
And socks, too
You should have one pair that is a light synthetic ‘wick’ sock, to transfer moisture to a thicker wool outer sock, where it is absorbed and evaporated to the outside. Cotton socks absorb moisture and make for a soggy environment, which ultimately makes the feet cold and wet and sets them up for frostbite.
Keep feet pretty
Just because you can’t see your feet doesn’t mean their appearance should fall by the wayside. Both doctors recommend keeping toenails trimmed to avoid ingrown toenails, and to keep slathering on the lotion. Feet tend to dry out in the winter, which can cause cracks and peeling. Use hypoallergenic lotion at least once a day to prevent irritation or infection from dry skin.
Cold weather leads to slippery surfaces and cracks in the sidewalk, therefore it is recommended that you keep an eye on the ground while walking. Clear pavement can be covered in ice you may not be able to see. You need to pay attention, because a good shoe alone won’t be able to protect you.
Also, don’t make sudden moves on slippery surfaces. Even if you don’t fall, you could pull or tear something that will take several days to heal.
Don’t get cold feet
Staying out in the cold too long can lead to numbness and pain in the lower extremities, which could mean the beginnings of frostbite. Warm towels and water should be used to warm the affected area at the first sign of numbness and then be sure to see a doctor immediately to be sure there’s no tissue damage.