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What Are Common Winter Foot Problems and How Can They be Prevented?

As temperatures drop, we adjust to the weather by changing our clothes, footwear, and even our activities.  With these changes come new challenges to keeping our feet happy and healthy. Keep these common winter foot problems in mind to prevent injuries and enjoy the season!

Common Winter Foot Problems to be Weary Of

In an attempt to keep our feet warm in the winter, we shift from sandals and open toed shoes to extra socks and boots. While this is generally a good idea, there are foot conditions associated with close-toed shoes.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection to the skin of the foot. The fungus can grow from a warm, dark and moist environment or from narrow, ill-fitting shoes because fungi thrive in small, tight conditions.  If you layer your socks for the winter, sweat can accumulate and provide the moist environment needed for the fungus to grow.  Wearing socks made of wool will help keep your feet drier.   When buying winter shoes make sure to keep in mind that you will most likely be wearing thick socks so you can plan ahead when deciding on a size.

Ingrown Toenail

When an ingrown toenail occurs, the edges of the nail plate penetrate into the soft tissue of the toe. It begins with a painful irritation, and can often become infected.  An ingrown toenail can be caused by wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or cutting the toenail too short. Ingrown toenail treatment at Metroplex Foot & Ankle is a relatively a painless procedure. Your podiatrist will begin by numbing the toe and removing the nail margin. Once the nail margin is removed the root of the nail in this area is destroyed, usually with an acid used to kill the root of the nail.

Bunions

Bunions form when uneven amounts of pressure are placed on the joints of your big toes. Repeatedly wearing shoes that are too tight or that lack support can cause additional pain to the area.  Most often treatment of a bunion will involve using inserts for arch support, shoe pads, or toe spacers.

Not only can your winter footwear affect your foot health, but participating in sports through the cold weather can increase your risk of foot problems.

Winter Sport-Related Foot Injuries

If you exercise or participate in sports outside in the cold, you are at an increased risk of injuring yourself because your muscles have reduced elasticity.  This lack of elasticity makes it harder for your body to absorb any pressure that is exerted on your muscles during exercise, making an injury more likely.  Here are two common sports-related winter foot injuries to be wary of:

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fasciitis, is a thick, fibrous ligament in the arch of the foot. It acts as a shock absorber while walking and stretches as the foot flattens. Sports can cause extreme tension on the on the plantar fascia resulting in small tears or rupture of the ligament. Some treatment options for plantar fasciitis include, calf muscle stretching, arch supports, or cortisone injections.

Blisters

Ice skating, hockey, snowboarding, and skiing all involve wearing tight closed toed shoes that don’t have the softest material around them like a typical tennis shoe. In fact, ski and snow board boots are often made of a thick plastic material.  If your foot constantly rubs against your shoe a painful buildup of body fluid can form. To treat blisters, they can easily be drained by making a small puncture to the blister with a sterile needle. Don’t forget to apply a form of antibacterial cream and cover the open wound with a band aid afterward to prevent infection.

If you believe you are already experiencing these common winter foot problems, contact our Dallas Podiatrist, Garland Podiatrist, or Richardson Podiatrist office to schedule an appointment today.