The cold weather is fast approaching; time to start thinking about your feet.
This month, Gail Davidson, our resident podiatrist, gives some helpful tips to look after your feet.
The cold weather can cause the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the feet to become tighter and thus more prone to aches and pains but one of the most common complaints of the feet in winter is chilblains.
This occurs when the skin is exposed to cold humid temperatures and then is introduced quickly to a warm environment.
The cold air first constricts the small blood vessels in the skin; if the skin gets hot too quickly, the blood vessels cannot react properly in time.
Blood then leaks into the tissue, resulting in itchy, red and at times swollen toes.
If not looked after carefully they can become ulcers or cause infections, as the skin dries.
People who have existing circulation problems, work outdoors or wear tight constrictive shoes will be more prone to this condition.
Chilblains are often found on the highest point of the toes and, more specifically, on bunions and calluses, where there is more pressure on the foot, it can also affect women above the footwear line, where the ankle is only covered with thin tights or socks.
You can lessen your risk of chilblains by keeping your feet warm at all times and by avoiding the use of direct heat. A normal reaction when your feet are cold is to put your feet next to a heat source such as a radiator or fire, however this may actually cause chilblains or make them worse; remember it is the exposure to extreme heat or cold that causes the problem in the first place!
Furthermore, because one of the symptoms of diabetes is a loss of feeling in the feet, diabetics should avoid direct heat completely, as well as take extra caution to keep feet warm and dry when outdoors in the cold.
Let your feet warm up slowly so that your circulation can respond to the change in temperature in a healthy way, and invest in a pair of thick comfortable socks and quality slippers.
Gail is available for consultations and advice at Aspire.
Remember if you have diabetes, make sure you see a podiatrist who is registered with the Health Professions Council so that you know they are properly qualified and that your feet will be in safe hands!