As Summer has drawn to an end here in Melbourne and Autumn has arrived, the temperature is starting to drop and to be honest? We are here for it. It also means that our sandals start getting replaced by closed-in shoes and socks more regularly. Before we know it, we’ll be heating our homes and layering on our woollies. Unfortunately, our feet may not love us for it.
Today, the Sole Motion Podiatry team are talking about the ways that our feet can be affected by the change in weather, and what we can do to ensure any effects are kept to a minimum.
Cooler temperatures can leave our skin feeling dry – and our feet and legs are no exception. You may be surprised to learn that the soles of our feet don’t have oil glands (or not surprised, given that you don’t go slipping around!), so it’s important to keep them well moisturised so that your skin can stay smooth and supple. Otherwise, if the skin stays dry and callus builds up, you can go on to develop cracked heels, which can be dangerous if the cracks reach the healthy, vulnerable skin beneath.
Some people may experience chilblains in their feet as a result of repeated exposure to the cold. Chilblains are the painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin. Also known as pernio, chilblains can cause itching, red or purple patches, a burning sensation on your skin, swelling and blistering on your hands and feet.
Fungal nail infections are common through winter, as many people wear closed-in shoes with thick socks regularly. If your feet cannot breathe, this moist, sweaty environment increases the chances of a fungal nail infection developing and thriving.
Raynaud’s syndrome, often referred to as Raynaud’s phenomenon, is a condition that is triggered by cold or stress, and can make your feet or hands feel excessively cold or numb. It occurs due to narrowing of the arteries in your feet and hands, which affects the normal blood circulation to them. This can cause them to change colour, turning white, blue or red. An episode of Raynaud’s can take as long as 15 minutes for normal blood flow to return after warming the area. As normal blood flow returns, the affected area can tingle, throb or swell.
Some of us may wear the same shoes in winter, but opt for thicker (or dual-layered) socks. This can decrease the space in your shoes, making them feel tighter, and contribute to painful ingrown toenails. Most often affecting your big toe, ingrown toenails are a common condition in which the corner or side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh. This causes pain, redness, swelling and, sometimes, an infection.
Okay, you got us. This one isn’t *technically* related to the cooler temperatures per se, but more so that winter sports start getting into full swing and that means active, growing kids may start to experience growing pains! These pains can occur from bones that grow faster than their tendons can keep up with, affect kids’ flexibility, joint motion, coordination, and of course – pain. Don’t worry – we can help!
If you have diabetes, neuropathy or poor circulation, you are likely to be more susceptible to winter foot issues. This is because you may already have problems with sensation, as well as your body’s ability to heal any skin damage. More vessel constriction with cooler temperatures can emphasise this. Paired with any difficulties in reaching and checking your feet, this can be a dangerous combination where you may not notice any cuts or wounds to the skin. If you don’t know they’re there, you don’t know to treat them before an infection takes hold.
If you’re worried about your foot and leg health, or you’ve been experiencing any pain or problems, we’d love to help. We’re a passionate team of podiatrists that love what we do – and genuinely want to see you feeling and performing at your best!