Does cold winter weather have your feet seeking warmth and refuge in thick socks and boots? Unlike summer where feet are constantly on display in stylish sandals or barefoot on the beach, winter practically sends feet into hiding, making it easy to overlook their care altogether. Don’t let your feet pay the price – practice these smart foot care tips for winter:
1. Give your feet a breather
Make sure your feet have plenty of room to breathe both inside your shoes and out. Thick socks and snug, heavy boots can cause your feet to sweat, creating a moist breeding ground for potential bacteria or fungi. Make sure to wear shoes and boots with a deep and wide toe box which allows more room for the toes to breathe, even if you are wearing thick socks. And stick to breathable materials for socks like natural cotton and wool with antimicrobial features that help wick away moisture instead of absorbing it like cotton usually does.
2. Wear shoes in the locker room
If cold weather has moved your daily trail run inside to the gym, don’t forget to wear shoes when you hit the locker room or showers. Tons of contaminants, including the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, thrive on these commonly used and warm, moist floors. Wearing flip flops or other protective shoes when you shower and avoiding placing your bare feet on the floor when you get dressed is a must for keeping itchy infections from developing.
3. Clean and moisturize
Drier air combined with more time spent in shoes can have your feet cracking, peeling, and flaking more than ever during the winter months. Make sure to wash and thoroughly dry your feet every day and moisturize them with a hydrating foot cream or lotion. Rubbing moisturizer on your feet in circular movements not only nourishes your skin but can help boost blood flow to your feet as well to warm them up.
4. Address foot pain
Are you noticing sneaking pain in your ankle, arch, heel, or ball of your foot? If you overdid it with working out or training during the summer and fall months, your feet could be paying the price now. Ignoring foot pain and injuries like plantar fasciitis could actually lead to cascading problems down the line like leg, knee, hip, and back injuries. Talk with your doctor if you experience chronic foot pain and take action at home – stretch and strengthen feet regularly, wear arch supports and other orthotic aids to target plantar fasciitis pain reduction, and rest swollen and tender feet on an elevated pillow.
5. Keep up with nail care
Not having to worry about your bare feet being seen may be a relief, but that’s no excuse to skip out on regular nail care. Make sure you are routinely clipping toenails and removing old coats of nail polish. Winter is a great time actually to go polish-free to give your nails a break from harsh chemicals and discoloring. And don’t forget to clean under your toenails as well where dead skin cells, dirt, and other contaminants can build up. Tip: Clean and trim nails after a shower or bath, and clip toenails straight across and not at a curve to avoid ingrown toenails.
6. Remove wet shoes and socks right away
If you are on the go and your feet get damp or wet from the slush, ice, and snow outside, make sure to remove your wet shoes and socks immediately. Not only does this help keep your body temperature up, but walking around in wet shoes and socks can saturate the skin making it more prone to tearing or infection.
Best practice is to keep an extra pair of warm socks and shoes stashed inside your car in the event that you are away from your house and need to replace wet ones; and always let your boots or shoes dry out completely before wearing them again.