With winter upon us, the snow-covered mountains may be beckoning you onto an adventure. The cold, snowy months of winter offer many opportunities for a fun time whether that’s sledding, snowshoeing, skiing snowboarding or hiking.
While these activities are fun ways to enjoys those cold winter days, they can also take a toll on your feet. The cold, dry air and slippery, wet and uneven terrain of the slopes can increase one’s risk of the following common winter foot problems:
- Dry Skin
You may have been accustomed to slathering your hands with lotion and constantly apply lip moisturizer when you’re out and about in the winter. The harsh winter air is notorious for drying out skin. The skin of your feet isn’t exempt. Dry skin on the foot can lead to painful cuts and cracks on the feet, most common on the heels as this part of the foot absorbs a lot of pressure and it constantly rubs against the inside of one’s shoe or boot. Cracked heels can be treated with moisturizing lotion and padded socks.
While one can get blisters any time of the year, winter poses unique situations where blisters are more likely to occur. If you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you likely rent ski boots, snowshoes and snowboard boots. As hard as you try to find the most comfortable fit, it is nearly impossible to find the right rental that fits your feet exactly. Even boots that are slightly too big can cause rubbing of the skin that can form blisters. The same rubbing can occur with regular boots that you may wear only a few times of year.
The early part of the winter season is also a busy one where one may be on his or her feet longer than normal. This can make once comfortable shoes worn for a short amount of time uncomfortable and ill-fitting, causing excessive rubbing.
- Foot Fractures
Whether it’s a patch of ice in the driveway or an uneven pile of snow, the slick surfaces can easily cause falls that can result in broken and fractured feet and ankles, sprained ankles, twisted ankles and pulled muscles of the feet and ankles.
- Athlete’s Foot
All-cotton and all-wool socks may be warm and have extra comfortable padding, but these materials keep the feet from being able to breathe and get dry. Combine this with hard, active, prolonged exercise required to do many of the common winter activities and you can end up with fungal infections such as Athlete’s Foot.
The cold air mixed with the moisture of snow and/or rain can cause one’s arthritis in the hands and feet to flare up. These flare ups can involve great pain, discomfort and stiffness that can impact one’s daily mobility and activities.
- Ingrown Toenails
Similar to blisters in the sense one can get an ingrown toenail any time of the year, these foot nuisances are often the results of ill-fitting shoes and boots and from adjusting one’s stride so more pressure and weight than normal are placed on the toes, causing them to get crunched at the toe of the shoe.
Winter has its own, unique conditions that give rise to certain foot injuries and conditions. Cracked heels, blisters, foot and ankle bone breaks and fractures and arthritis flare ups are some of the more common winter foot problems one may experience while out and about hitting the slopes or the shopping mall.
If your foot condition is serious or has been causing you pain and discomfort for an extended amount of time, contact your podiatrist to schedule an appointment.