By Jenny Le-Tran – Podiatrist
It’s that time of the year again when our feet are going to hate us, when the evenings are drawing in and the temperature is starting to drop, its time for our feet to be back into shoes again! During summer months some foot problems such as corns and ingrowing toenails can improve due to them being in more open footwears but when your feet are back into more closed in shoes they can experience friction and compression pressure which can then lead to pain. So now is not the time to take a break on your regular foot care just because they are out of sight hiding inside your shoes!.
Here are some top tips to help look after your feet to get them into tip-top condition for the autumn and winter seasons!:
- Take a break from nail polish : prolonged wear of nail polish can deny your nails of sunlight and air especially if they are going to be inside shoes more in the colder weather and this can exacerbate or precipitate a fungal nail infection. This is a very stubborn infection to treat and prevention is better than cure!
- Choose the right footwear, a lot of people seems to think that completely flat shoes are better but surprisingly they should have a small heel (no more than 4cm though!), with laces or adjustable straps to hold your feet firmly inside, and with good support. Boots should have at least a zip on the sides. Your toes should be able to move freely inside your shoes, imagine playing piano with your shoes, if they can move freely then this is a good fit. The width and depth of the front of the shoes (otherwise known as the toe box) are vital to your comfort so look out for these features when you are buying new shoes! Tight shoes can also inhibit blood flow to your toes especially in the cold weather when the blood vessels are usually more contracted than normal already. This is especially dangerous if you suffer from conditions such as diabetes and poor peripheral circulation.
- If you suffer with cold feet, or chilblains in the winter, make sure you wear socks that are made of nature material such as lambswool, merino wool or treat yourself to some cashmere socks even! Put these on your xmas list!
- Never warm your feet in front of an open fire or use a hot water bottle directly on them as this can lead to sudden warming and this may affect the function of the smaller blood vessels (capillaries) which may then lead to painful chilblains.
- Take regular exercises to improve the circulation to your feet. If you are not very mobile you can still do some exercises to help with your circulation whilst sitting down. You can move the ankles up and down and in circular motions or even try and write the alphabet with your feet!
- The skin on our feet in autumn and winter can suffers particularly under dry heating air as well as the cold temperature making them dry, so make sure you use a good foot care cream with urea regularly to help prevent painful cracks.
- The skin on your feet can suffer if ill fitting shoes are rubbing or pressing on them which can lead to painful corns and an ulcer or pressure sore can develop under them which not only is painful but will increase your risk of an infection. If you do develop problems with your skin, make sure you visit a podiatrist to get this treated and for preventative advice.
- Visit a podiatrist at least twice a year even if you don’t have any particular issue to have a routine foot health check, similar to your routine check up for your teeth at the dentist!
Enjoy the seasons ahead!