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Family Foot & Ankle

Winter Foot Care

Even though the sandals and flips flops get exchanged for puffy socks and closed shoes or boots, cold weather can still pose unique challenges for your feet. In Cincinnati we can experience everything from heavy snowfalls and biting winds to chilly rain and deep puddles, so you need a winter foot care plan to deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at you.

Keeping Toes Toasty (But Not Sweaty)

Taking Care of Your Feet in Cold Weather

When the cold winds blow, you’ll want socks with a little more heft to shut out the frigid air. However, socks can easily get damp if they don’t wick away moisture properly, especially if they are stuffed in boots all day. Wet, sweaty feet not only have a chilling effect, but they also can lead to skin problems and make you more susceptible to bacterial infections like athlete’s foot or fungal toenails.

Moisture-wicking materials, such as wool blends, help keep your skin from getting too damp during the day. That said, you may have to change pairs a couple of times per day if necessary. When coming in after trudging around outside, take off your shoes and socks, let your feet dry out, and put on a fresh pair.

Having multiple pairs of boots that you can use on alternate days gives your footwear more opportunity to dry out between uses. You can also use foot powders to keep things clean and dry. Make sure you’re washing your feet thoroughly at least once per day, as well.

Selecting the Right Boots

As with regular shoes, the best boots are ones that fit properly and provide the right amount of support—firm at the heel and ball, but with plenty of space for the toes to move about freely. Boots that are too tight or too loose can lead to blisters, corns, chafing, or even ankle injuries or foot deformities.

When sizing, remember to accommodate for the extra space required for heavier socks. When you go to the store you should wear the type of socks you intend to use with your boot. You may need to adjust upward half a size from your normal number.

Avoiding Dry Skin

Wait, didn’t we just talk about making sure your feet stay dry?

Yes, but while trudging through snow or puddles, or keeping your feet trapped in waterproof boots all day, can lead to feet that are too damp, indoor heating and low humidity levels in winter can also cause your skin to dry out faster than usual. This can lead to painful cracking and even fissuring on your heels, among other problems.

During the winter, you may want to consider using a daily foot cream or moisturizer and drinking extra water, especially if you’ve had a history of dry skin or if you’re especially susceptible to skin drying out, due to age or a condition such as diabetes.

Frostbite is Never Fashionable

It should be obvious that trudging through the snow and cold in sandals or even sneakers is a bad idea; exposed skin or soaked socks and shoes in stiff winter winds can be torturous. Nevertheless, many people still choose fashion or convenience above warmth, comfort, and safety. It’s simply not worth the risk, though.

Exposing skin to extreme cold and bitter wind can injure the skin, nerves, and blood vessels faster than you’d think, and your toes are especially susceptible due to the fact that they’re so far from your core. Once the temperature drops into the single digits and below, frostbite can begin to set in after only 15-30 minutes of exposure (or less, if it’s really cold), depending on wind conditions. This is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment and can even lead to amputation.

If you have any winter foot care needs—or foot care needs any time of year—trust the doctors at Family Foot and Ankle Center to keep you moving in comfort. With six Greater Cincinnati locations spread throughout Ohio and Kentucky, we’re in your neighborhood. Schedule an appointment online, or give us a call at (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572 today.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.