In the winter, we usually stay indoors more since there’s not much you can do when you feel like your hands and nose are going to freeze off. You would think that since you’re not as active, there’s not much you’d have to worry about in the foot and ankle department, but winter is actually much more hazardous than any other season and your risk of injury when you do go outside is much higher.
- ICE HAZARDS: The best way to protect yourself from icy surfaces is to wear rubber soled shoes with good grips. If you know that there is ice, take small steps and step sideways instead of walking heel-toe. Try to grab onto a stable surface so that if you do slide or slip, the impact won’t be as bad. Also, wear shoes that have a high ankle so that you are better protected from potential injury.
- COLD: Socks. Thick socks, wooly socks, furry socks, whatever it is that you need to keep your feet warm. Cold feet mean poor circulation and that can lead to a variety of other problems in your body. If you seem to have feet that are always cold even if you’re wearing as many warm socks as possible, you may be wearing shoes that are not insulated enough for the cold weather (or you may have a circulation issue which you should definitely get checked out.) Always keep your feet dry and change socks immediately if they become damp or wet.
- CIRCULATION: Extreme changes from hot to cold can cause chilblains. (Like if you try to warm your freezing feet by dunking them in hot water.) The blood vessels in your skin don’t have enough time to react properly causing blood to leak into tissue. Always warm your skin slowly, with warm water or a warm blanket instead of exposing yourself to direct heat.
- DRY FEET: Sometimes putting on lotion or oil doesn’t cut it. Increase your water intake to help the problem from inside out. Also, try soaking your feet and gently exfoliating them with a scrub before putting on lotion or oil so that it actually gets absorbed into your skin. Be careful not to scrub too hard or you may end up with open cuts or split skin which can make you more prone to infections.
Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhem of Clifton Foot & Ankle Care has been treating patients for over seventeen years. If you have any questions, winter foot problems, or other foot and ankle issues, call our Centreville, VA office at 703-996-3000 or make an appointment here.