Watch Out For These 3 Foot Problems This Winter!
While we’re still able to enjoy the sunshine and warmth now, it’s not long until winter creeps in and has us rugged up, opting for the gym instead of a road run in the mornings, and braving our kids’ winter sports! While winter is definitely coming and will be filled with battles in a we-can’t-wait-for-game-of-thrones-to-start kinda way, our own feet should be facing no battles of their own if we take the right precautions now, take care of them, and know what to look out for.
Otherwise known as: The ends of my toes or fingers are turning white
When the small blood vessels at your peripheries constrict because of the chilly temperature, they’ll reduce the blood flow to the area. Reduced blood flow means none of the usual healthy pink-ish colour that we normally get from plenty of blood and oxygen pumping through the vessels and we’re left with a distinct white-yellow-pale appearance at the ends of our toes (or fingers). Aside from an odd appearance, this can also be quite painful so be careful!
The solution: Rug up!
Make sure you dress to the conditions with warm socks and shoes. Change out of wet gear as soon as you’re able to and gently warm your whole body back up to open those blood vessels.
Otherwise known as: I went from freezing cold to hot too quickly and now my toes hurt
If you experience Raynaud’s Phenomenon (or just very cold toes!) and then you run inside into the warmth and just straight in front of a heater, then you may experience the painful effects of chilblains. Chilblains occur from prolonged or repeated exposure to very cold temperatures to your skin, as well as when you move from cold (constricted blood vessels) to hot too quickly. If you have poor circulation, you’ll be at a higher risk of suffering from chilblains. Chilblains feel like burning on the skin, can get red, swollen and itchy, can cause dry skin that can split and crack, and in extreme cases, can pick up a secondary infection or ulcerate. So you must take care!
The solution: Again, rug up!
The best way to avoid going between cold and warm temperatures is to just keep your toes consistently warm in the first place! If you know your circulation isn’t as great as it once was, we highly recommend whipping up every tool under your belt to keep your feet warm and prevent chilblains before they start. Going skiing? Make sure you’ve got a good pair of ski socks and if you need to, boot warmers too. Going for a hike? Make sure you have a number of extra pairs of warm, dry socks and an extra pair of warm, dry boots or shoes. Taking ten minutes to prepare can save you a lot of pain and frustration throughout the winter!
Otherwise known as: I had a great day out on the slopes today and here is a reminder for the next 6-12 months
If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder then you will have undoubtedly experienced bruising your toenails and watching them grow out over the next 6-12 months, to have your nail turn into a hangnail, and then fall off (if you haven’t cut it off or picked it off by then!). But why does this happen? Well - firstly, your toenail bruises because it has bled beneath the nail. Yep - that’s just dried blood beneath there that is now separating the nail from the skin beneath. As the nail grows, the bruise will move forward too until we can ‘clean it out’ from beneath the nail. Then, there will be a large area of disconnected nail, which for many of us will cause the nail to fall off and a new nail to take its place. Initially, it can be quite painful and tender (it did cause bleeding, after all). As the nail grows out, it turns more irritating with either having a partially loose nail that catches on socks, or a cave-like nail that traps moisture, dirt and other nasties from the ground beneath it.
The solution: Be ski-boot smart!
We know our boots need to be tight to give us maximum control, but make sure you have at least some space in front of the toes too. Ask yourself - are your ski socks too thick and are reducing space? Have your feet swollen while you’ve been on the slopes and you need a rest? Are you experiencing symptoms of chilblains?
Sometimes - and this has definitely happened to us - we haven’t trimmed our toenails prior to hitting the slopes, and this is the culprit for the bruising. No, we’re not talking ridiculously long toenails - but even a couple weeks without a trim of the big toenail can lead to it pushing against the boot just that little too much - so our best advice is to always trim them as short as possible for your ski weekend!
While these are three common winter complaints, there are plenty more problems we help with each winter for adults and kids alike. If you’re worried about your family’s feet or have a winter trip away planned that you need to be at the top of your game for, our fantastic team of experienced Podiatrists would love to help! You can make an appointment by clicking here or calling us on 07 4638 3022.