During this chilly season our feet are usually kept nice and cosy under heavy winter boots and fluffy slippers. However, just because our feet aren’t on show doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t put the same amount of care into maintaining our foot health as we do in the summer. Read our guide below to discover how to keep your feet happy and healthy in the winter.
During winter, your feet will spend more time inside shoes and socks, and this will make them more susceptible to bacteria. To keep bacteria at bay, change your shoes and socks daily and clean them frequently. Ensure your footwear is fully dry before you leave the house. Even slightly damp shoes can be a breeding ground for many different kinds of bacteria which could lead to fungal infections. To dry your shoes, wipe out any moisture from the toe-box and place them upside-down in a warm, dry place for at least 24 hours.
When you get home, switch to a comfortable ‘indoor shoe’. This will help you to stick to a regular shoe rotation schedule and it will also help you to avoid sweating in the warmer inside temperature.
Wearing socks made from absorbent natural materials such as cotton or wool will help to limit the spread of bacteria through sweat. If your feet are still cold, consider layering socks. This will create thermal air between each layer which will help the heat to stay in. This will also reduce friction levels which, in turn, will lower the risk of blisters. Never wear socks that feel too tight as these could cut off the circulation to your feet, making them feel numb and cold.
To protect your feet from the outside elements, choose shoes that are made from water-resistant and insulating materials. Wearing poorly-insulated shoes in cold weather may cause your feet to go numb and this could be dangerous in wet and slippery conditions as you won’t be able to feel where you’re walking.
It’s also important to choose shoes that are just the right fit. Not only does poorly-fitting footwear cause pain and discomfort, but it can also be a serious hazard in wintery weather. Tight shoes may affect blood flow to the feet, which can cause them to get cold very easily. To find the right fit, check if you can wiggle your toes and that the heel, instep and the ball of your foot don’t move within the shoe. Shoes that are too big will allow the foot to move too much and this can cause friction which could lead to painful sores and blisters. When trying on shoes, make sure that there is enough room to accommodate thicker winter socks.
As your feet will be spending more time covered up, it is important to wash them about once a week to help ward off infections and verrucae. This is also an effective way of warming up cold feet. To bathe your feet:
After bathing your feet, use a pumice stone followed by a moisturiser to remove dead skin and to prevent cracks from forming. Applying foot cream in circular motions from the heel up will not only restore warmth to your feet but also help to make them less susceptible to damage and infection.
During winter your feet spend more time covered up, so it is a good time to take a break from using nail varnish. Nail varnish covers your nails and makes them less breathable. This can result in bacteria getting trapped under the surface which leads to numerous problems such as weak nails, discolouration, and even infection.
In cold weather, the blood vessels in our feet constrict. The reduced blood flow in these areas helps to lower the amount of heat lost by the body. This is why we tend to feel the cold more in our feet. Here are some top tips to help restore warmth to your tootsies:
“Whether caused by wearing high heels on icy surfaces or just sheer accident, falls are one of the most common causes of weather-related injuries. Wintertime falls often result in an ankle sprain, or worse, a broken bone in the foot, ankle, heel or toe.” - Dr Greg Catalano, Foot Health FactsWear low-heeled shoes or boots with a traction sole to prevent slips and falls. Walk slowly and carefully in wet or slippery conditions and walk as flat-footed as possible in very icy areas. Tap your foot on potentially slick areas to check for slipperiness.