10 Apr Caring for Your Feet in Winter
You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to know that winter is coming – there’s a nip in the air, the doonas are out and the summer sandals have made way for winter boots. Just because your feet go into hiding during autumn and winter, it doesn’t mean you stop looking after them. In fact, it is very important to maintain your foot care during the colder months.
All too often, we adopt an out-of-sight-out-of-mind attitude to them, squeezing them into closed shoes, sometimes layered over socks /tights, creating quite a dank, breeding ground for bacteria and fungal infections. Since the air is drier in winter, it makes our skin – yes, even on our feet – more prone to dryness. Dry, cracked heels and chilblains add to our winter woes. But don’t despair; our podiatrists Russel Rubin and Trevor Proskewitz share their tips on how to give your feet the TLC they deserve as winter marches on.
Let your toenails breathe: If you constantly wear nail polish, now is the time to take a break from the constant application of nail polish and consequent remover, which dry out your nails. Clean them thoroughly by removing dead skin and dirt after a shower. Look after damaged nails by using a nail oil with added anti-fungal properties such as tea tree oil to help restore healthy nails. Examine your toenails for fungal or bacterial infections which often show up as pale patches. If spotted, visit our podiatrists immediately.
Wear footwear with a deep toe box: When buying shoes for winter, make sure that your toes can move freely without feeling restricted. If you always wear socks in winter, your winter shoes may need to be a half-size or even a size bigger to accommodate that extra layer without squeezing your feet.If you’re not sure what size you are, get measured by professionals.
Cold feet: Massage a foot cream into your feet in a circular motion from the heel up to the toes. This will not only warm your feet but also moisturise them at the same time. Wear socks in natural fibres like cotton, bamboo and merino wool. Never warm your cold feet on a heater!
Cracked heels: One of the main reasons we get cracked heels is from the skin being too dry. Use a loofah, foot scrubber, or pumice stone to gently remove any hard, thick skin – but do not overdo it. After drying, apply a heel balm containing urea. If the problem is severe, make sure to visit a podiatrist who will reduce the hard skin and recommend a suitable topical cream to keep your heels well hydrated.
Itchy feet: Try a warm water soak with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar for 10 minutes. Vinegar helps with tired feet, fungal toenails and athlete’s foot. Keep in mind that if your feet have open wounds or if you have diabetes, this is not suitable.
Sweaty feet: If you’re wearing socks or tights with nylon or other synthetics, feet can become very sweaty. Make sure to dry your feet well, especially between the toes before slipping on any footwear or hosiery. The more you can allow feet to ‘breathe’, the happier they’ll be.
Chilblains: These are small, itchy, painful swellings usually on the tips of the toes, fingers and earlobes, often caused due to poor circulation. Resist the urge to scratch, as this will further damage the skin. Instead, apply a soothing lotion and wear woollen or cotton socks and keep your whole body warm.