You may have looked at the title of this post and said, "put on thick socks!" And you'd be right - that's one tip to protect your feet from the cold this winter. But depending on your health, your lifestyle, and the condition of your feet, you might want to consider a few other tips for winter foot care as well.
[caption id="attachment_4769" align="alignleft" width="600"]A good pair of insulated boots and thermal socks are your feet's best defense against winter weather.[/caption]
Cold weather tips for diabetics
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you're at greater risk of foot injury during the winter months than you are at any other time of year. A side effect of diabetes called Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy causes a loss of sensation in your feet, the result of persistently high blood sugar which damages blood vessels and nerves. DPN doesn't typically appear overnight - one experiences a slow loss of sensation over a period of years as the damage occurs. This makes a diabetic patient especially vulnerable to frostbite or frostnip, potentially damaging skin and other cells.
Diabetics - and everyone - should use common sense if they're going to be outdoors for a prolonged period. Keep moving to stimulate circulation, take breaks to warm up whenever possible, wear an excellent pair of waterproof boots, and wear 2 pair of thermal socks. Take an extra pair of socks with you in case your feet get wet. If your feet are icy cold to the touch, but you don't feel the appropriate sensation, you may have already developed DPN. Please make an appointment with your podiatrist immediately for an examination and treatment plan.
Cold weather tips for runners, hikers, skiiers, snowboarders, and all athletes
Just because you're moving, it doesn't mean you're invulnerable to freezing weather. In fact, splashing through wet streets, icy slopes, and getting your boots, socks, or sneakers wet, not only opens the door to a wicked wipeout, but also to frostbite or frostnip. Anyone who's spent significant time outdoors hiking, camping, sledding, or skiing is usually acutely aware of this from personal experience. But did you know that once you get frostbite or frostnip, you risk a more severe injury if it happens a second time?
[su_column][su_note note_color="#fff2f6" text_color="#ffffff" radius="3"]Learn to recognize the signs of frostbite (Mayo Clinic)[/su_note][/su_column]
Athletes should avoid training on wet surfaces, or at least splashing through puddles or snow. Hikers, campers, hunters, skiiers and snowboarders should have quality boots and appropriate socks to keep their feet warm and dry. If you notice a loss of sensation in your feet to any degree, get indoors immediately (or somewhere warm), take off your shoes and socks, dry your feet if wet, and allow your feet to slowly warm. If pain accompanies the warming, you may have frostnip. See a podiatrist for an evaluation.
Winter foot care for everyone
- Use common sense and keep your feet warm and dry.
- Wear comfortable, insulated boots that leave room for 2 pair of thermal socks. Your winter boots should also have a good sole to give you plenty of traction on wet surfaces.
- Wear thermal socks. If your feet are cold, wear 2 pair. Pass on cotton - choose synthetic fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin.
- If your feet tend to dry out in winter, moisturize them on a regular basis. But don't moisturize in between your toes - too much moisture in that area may lead to a fungal infection.
- Stay well hydrated to avoid chafing. This helps to prevent dry, cracked skin and blisters.
- Use talcum powder on your feet to keep them dry - good advice for any time of year.