I am not a fan of winter. The short days and the cold weather are 2 big turnoffs for me. Thank goodness we only really experience this for about 3 months of the year. I don’t think I could tolerate a colder climate like the UK where winter is almost 6 months of the year.
Winter is also the time of year, we as podiatrists, really worry about your feet.
Why you may ask?
Firstly, this is the time of year that those dreaded chilblains come to light and can cause quite a bit of grief. For those of you who have never suffered chilblains, they tend to be red or purple mottled lesions that occur on your feet (or hands, or ears) as a reaction to the cold. They can be painful or itchy. And in severe cases they can blister, become infected or ulcerate.
We mainly see young children with chilblains, or the elderly. That is because these 2 groups have trouble regulating the circulation in their extremities like their feet and hands. As children get older this improves. Sadly as the elderly get older, this deteriorates, and the chances of getting chilblains increases.
Causes of chilblains can come from rapid changes in temperature but also from over exposure to damp environments. There may also be dietary influences and changes in your hormonal balance that mean you could be more prone than other people.
How to Prevent Chilblains
People with a tendency to chilblains must keep their hands and feet warm to reduce the risk of chilblains. Warming of the extremities must be achieved in a gradual manner and not abruptly to prevent permanent damage. Other preventative measures may include:
- Avoid nicotine products such as cigarettes as they constrict the blood vessels, so smokers must stop smoking
- Home and workplace should be heated in winter
- Warm clothing should include gloves, thick woollen socks and comfortable protective footwear
- Medicines that constrict blood vessels should be minimised, including caffeine, decongestants
- Ointments such as Hirudoid cream can aid by increasing blood flow to the affected area, minimise pain and inflammation
- Vigorous indoor exercise keeps the body warm.
If you are elderly and suffer from poor circulation this could involve having regular checks during the cold winter months to make sure your feet are in good condition.
Another area we worry about is your skin condition. With the cold, and using heaters to keep us warm, this will result in your skin drying out. Dry skin can become itchy, and scratching can break the skin and cause infections.
Using a moisturiser (like our peppermint foot cream) every day will improve your skin condition, as will using a specialised body wash like QV or Dermaveen bath and shower oil will not strip the natural oils from your skin when you shower like standard soap does.
And the last thing we worry about (actually there are a lot more, but I want to keep this brief), is not visiting your podiatrist as regularly as you do in the warmer months. We find a lot of our clients don’t go out a lot over winter, but their corns and calluses still grow as they have their shoes on a lot longer due to the cold, and sometimes that can be detrimental to your feet, especially if you have picked poor footwear.
As always, if you have any questions, you can call us on 9542 3491. Or if you can come in and see us at our clinic.
Til next time
The team from Sutherland Podiatry Centre