Even though you’ve put away the flip-flops and sandals and have replaced them with heavy socks and closed toe boots and shoes, the cold weather can still cause unique challenges for your feet! Northeast winters can be brutal, with Long Island experiencing everything from heavy snowfalls and wind to rain and puddles. You need a winter foot care plan to tackle all the elements.
Foot perspiration can sometimes be more of a problem in the winter than in the summer! Wearing closed toe shoes and waterproof boots when it’s snowing and cold, combined with socks that trap moisture against your skin could lead to constantly damp feet. Wet, sweaty feet not only can lead to hypothermia and frostbite in bitterly cold temperatures but can lead to skin problems and bacterial infections such as athlete’s foot and fungal toenails.
Materials such as wool blends that are moisture-wicking, help you keep skin from getting too damp. It may be necessary to change your socks a few times a day. Take off your shoes and socks when coming in from the cold and snow to let your feet dry out and then put on a new pair! Foot powder can also be used to keep feet clean and dry.
Just because you aren’t walking around barefoot as much in the winter doesn’t mean that your feet will stay cleaner. Combine dirty feet with the extra moisture of sweat and it’s the perfect environment for a fungal infection – and foot odor! Keep your feet clean by washing and drying them daily all year round using a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil and warm water.
Winter air tends to dry out skin and this can cause built-up layers of calluses in your feet! Your skin can then split and bleed, allowing bacteria in. If you are diabetic or have poor circulation, you are at an increased risk for infections of the foot because of slowed healing time. Include a daily heavy moisturizer in the winter to keep skin supple and smooth. Use at night and cover with socks overnight while sleeping.
Deep snow means you will need waterproof boots with higher tops to keep the snow out. Icy conditions will require good traction. The best boots are the ones that fit your feet properly and also provide the perfect amount of support. Look for winter footwear that is firm at the heel and ball but also has lots of space for your toes to move around freely. Shoes and boots that are too tight or too loose can often lead to corns, blisters, chafing, ankle injuries or even foot deformities.
When trying on boots, bring a pair of heavy socks with you, similar to those you will wear with them. If not, remember to leave extra space required, you may need to adjust your size up by a half size to have enough room. If you are a runner or walker even in the cold weather, there are lightweight water-resistant running shoes or hiking boots. Just avoid deeper snow when wearing these shoes and change out of them after your run.
Let us provide you with the winter foot care you need. Contact the doctors at Suffolk Foot & Ankle to setup your appointment today!