In summer months, skin care is on the radar for most due to the excessive exposure to the sun that comes with summer activities. The sun causes extensive damage to the skin, often leading to cancer and need for Tides Products such as skin substitute grafts. While summer may be a peak for skin damage in the U.S., do not overlook the importance of proper skin care during winter months – especially for your feet. Cooler temperatures and how we deal with them, both indoors and outdoors, can lead to a surprising amount of damage to your skin. The purpose of this post is to provide some tips on proper foot care through winter and to shed some light on some harmful things that can be avoided. Prevention is always the best treatment! We will close with how to properly care for wounds in winter months for those already dealing with skin tissue issues.
Tips For Foot & Skin Care in Winter
Some of the risks involved in proper foot care during cold months include things like injury, dry environments, and improper footwear.
- Injury: In Louisiana we don’t get much of the excessive cold that would lead to temperature injury such as frostbite but being cautious of the possibilities is wise. Limit unprotected exposure to cold environments – especially those with neuropathy or diabetes. Other injuries that become more common in colder temperatures include ankle injuries and athletes’ foot. Wearing proper footwear is essential to preventing injury and is discussed below.
- Dry Environments – Winter brings drier air and indoor heating removes even more of the moisture from the air. The right amount of moisture is necessary to maintain proper skin and foot health. Too dry of an environment can lead to cracking and dryness that can cause pain and have lasting effects on the body. Proper moisturizing after bathing and even throughout the day as necessary will help prevent cracking and overly drying out your skin. Note: Be sure not to over moisturize between the toes or you could create an ideal environment for bacteria and infection.
- Footwear – Warm and dry is the goal for winter footwear. Getting socks with breathable fabric will prevent moisture buildup from sweat. Moisture and cold = freezing… which is dangerous for your feet. If you notice wrinkled toes when taking socks off, that is a clear sign you need better winter socks. Also be cautious about your choice of shoes/boots. Your shoes should fit your activities but not restrict circulation in any way. Boots and/or waterproof shoes can prevent falling on slippery surfaces. Shoes with traction are ideal. If your footwear does get wet, remove wet socks and shoes quickly and allow them to fully dry before further use.
Wound Care in Winter Months
If you have received a skin substitute graft or are taking care of any wound during winter months, be sure to discuss any changes to your healing plan necessary to accommodate the cold with your physician. Cold weather can slow blood flow and worsen blood circulation which ultimately leads to less oxygen getting to the wound. This can create a more susceptible environment for bacteria and infection. Your physician may recommend some additional elements of at home wound care and wound dressing to assist with healing during winter months. For example, it is essential to maintain a clean wound environment, but you should resist the temptation to take those long hot baths to warm up. Things like long exposure to hot water can negatively impact your wound healing process. Keep a close eye on your wounds and seek medical attention if you notice wounds not properly healing or at the very first signs of infection such as redness, swelling, odor or abnormal drainage.
Tides Medical recommends you meet with your podiatrist or physician to develop a comprehensive weather protection plan that fits with your lifestyle and specific conditions. If you or your physician have questions about or are interested in skin substitute grafts and proper application during winter months, contact us directly!