Foot care is just as important during the winter months as it is in the summertime. But if you aren't sure what to do, a foot doctor can offer advice on how to take care of your feet. Fortunately, when it comes to common factors, such as warmth and moisture, that can affect the health of your feet, there are steps you can take to prevent foot problems.
Proper Fit. Whether you need footwear made for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, or simply sloshing around in damp, cold conditions, make sure the boots fit your feet properly. Although there should be enough room inside a boot to wiggle your toes, the arch, heel, and ball of your foot should fit snugly. If your feet can move around inside the boots, they aren't well-supported.
The size is important, as boots that are even slightly larger than what you need can lead to chafing, blisters, and even foot and ankle injuries. But if you wear thick socks with footwear in the wintertime, you'll need a little more room. Still, with about eight in every 10 Americans suffering foot problems from wearing the wrong size footwear, it's important to get the right fit.
Boots. Insulated boots made of waterproof material protect your feet from the cold and winter elements. Even though boots help keep your feet warm and dry in snow and rain, your feet can sweat. Unfortunately, sweaty feet are more prone to bacterial infections and fungus; therefore, it's important to keep them clean and dry.
Socks. Socks help keep your feet warm and dry too. But while you may prefer wearing socks made of natural fibers such as wool to keep your feet warm, if you have a problem with feet that get sweaty, you may need to wear a thin synthetic sock made of acrylic or polypropylene fibers underneath.
A light-weight synthetic-fiber sock transfers moisture to the heavier sock on top, helping to keep your feet dry. Cotton socks made of absorbent fibers aren't recommended as they trap sweat and moisture–a recipe for blisters and other foot problems.
Moisturizers. If you don't keep your feet moisturized, dry skin can cause peeling and cracks–particularly cracked heels. Besides being painful, dry, cracked feet can cause burning and itchiness and make it hard to walk.
Help keep your feet hydrated by applying an oil-based moisturizing cream or petroleum jelly to your feet after washing them and then blotting with a soft towel. The use of a moisturizer immediately after a bath or shower or before going outdoors traps in moisture so that it doesn't evaporate as quickly from your skin.
Running as Exercise. If you jog or run in cold weather, selecting footwear that keeps your feet warm and dry isn't enough. You also need to warm up your muscles by stretching before you run. Otherwise, you may find that the cold weather makes you less flexible. When running in icy conditions, shortening your stride helps keep you stable on your feet so that you don't fall or twist your ankle.