Preventing Winter Foot Health Problems

Oh the weather outside is frightful...and that means some specific concerns for your feet. At Long Island Foot & Ankle Group, PC, we want patients to be aware of certain conditions that are prevalent at this time of year and how they can protect their feet.

Athlete’s Foot—you may wonder what the connection is between winter weather and this fungal infection that causes itchy, scaly red patches on your feet. Fungi love warm, damp places—in fact, it’s where they grow the best. Any fungal contact that you’ve had at the gym, nail salon, community pool or showers in the locker room are going to thrive in sweaty socks inside heavy boots and shoes. Keep feet as dry as possible, using a foot powder daily and changing your socks whenever you notice they are damp.

Chilblains—cold temperatures cause blood vessels to constrict. For some people (particularly those with poor circulation) warming up the skin causes fluid to leak from the vessels into neighboring tissue creating small swollen spots that are red and itchy. If you are prone to this condition, don’t make any sudden warming moves like sticking your feet in front of a toast fire. Instead, let feet warm up slowly to avoid chilblains.

Frostbite—going a step further, frostbite is the actual freezing of your skin and it can occur even if you are wearing warm socks and boots. Frostbite has several stages, however. Initially your skin may just turn very pale or red. If exposure to the cold continues, you may experience a prickly, tingly sensation. Obviously, at first signs of frostbite you need to get inside as soon as possible and allow your skin to warm up. If you experience numbness, blisters or swelling, you need to contact our Valley Stream or Lake Success office immediately so that one of our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Russell Caprioli, Dr. Mary Ann Bilotti, Dr. John Haight and Dr. Marzana Mleczko can examine your toes and feet and prescribe the necessary treatment.

Xerosis—another risk to feet in heated, dry winter air is extremely dry skin. Moisturize more frequently and apply a thick, emollient lotion or cream to feet before bed and then slip on socks so it can penetrate the skin while you sleep.

At Long Island Foot & Ankle Group, PC, we want our patients to be proactive and prevent foot problems before they happen. For more foot health information, call us at: (516) 825-4070 or (516) 327-0074.