Winter Foot Problems

Winter can be a tough time on our body; coughs, cases of flu and viruses on the increase, therefore, we have to take more care. Here are some foot problems to watch out for:

Chilblains

Chilblains are small, itchy, painful lumps that can develop on the skin, they are caused by local poor circulation when the skin is exposed to cold. They are usually found on the hands and the feet.

It is not a prolonged condition, they usually settle after about 7 – 14 days. However, if you have poor circulation you should keep warm in the winter as they can reoccur. Chilblains can occur at any age, they affect men and women in equal numbers and can also appear on the nose and earlobes as well as the fingers and toes.

The cause of chilblains is unknown, however, we do know that the small blood vessels constrict when they are cold cutting the blood supply to the area. As the skin heats up there is leakage of fluid from the blood vessels into the local tissues.  Inflammation and swelling result lead to the symptom of chilblains.

Prevention is better than cure with this uncomfortable complaint:

  • One of the key ways to help avoid the chilblain taking hold is to avoid warming your self up too quickly after exposure to cold – avoid hot water bottles and sitting next to direct heat.
  • Keep ears, hands, feet warm when outside in cold weather
  • Keep the body as warm as possible wear loose layers to trap body heat
  • Keep body and extremities as dry as possible

Chilblains are uncomfortable but do not cause permanent damage, see our podiatrist today to make an appointment if you have any concerns.

Frost Bite

Another condition during the winter months frostbite. Frostbite occurs when tissues are in freezing temperature for prolonged periods. This occurs because the sustained cold temperatures causes the small blood vessels in the skin to clamp down thus preventing blood flow to the tissues. Lack of blood flow to the tissues leads to tissue damage and tissue death. There are several degrees of frostbite determined by the extent of the tissue damage that has occurred. Some cases of frost bite are reversible while other are not.

Our podiatrists can ensure that vulnerable tissues are protected, if there is any ulceration they will dress the wound and keep the area clean. Ulceration can turn into gangrene if left untreated.

After having frostbite, some people are left with permanent problems, such as increased sensitivity to cold, numbness, stiffness and pain in the affected area.

See our podiatrist today to make an appointment if you have any concerns.

Cracked Heels

Cracked heels are often called fissures, this is a common problem that occurs all year round, however, can also occur in winter. Fissures are splits in the skin. Fissures normally form on the heel and are a result of dryness, this can be because of walking barefoot or the result of wearing synthetic socks.

Our podiatrist can reduce these cracks and ensure there is no chance of developing a bacterial infection.

However, prevention is the best medicine:

  • Apply a moisturiser daily, apply in the evening and sleep wearing a pair of cotton socks.
  • Use a foot file.
  • Visit a podiatrist for regular debridement.

See our podiatrist today to make an appointment if you have any concerns.