Your Winter Feet Problems Solved
The Debrief: Suddenly realised your feet are looking way worse than usual? Read on...
Our feet get a lot of shit. We shun them in winter boots. Force them into ill-fitting heels. Slag them off. Yet we expect them to take us everywhere, walk in aforementioned heels and do it all whilst looking pretty.
In the winter, we're even worse. It's easy to ignore the fact that they’re basically disintegrating because they’re hidden in your new (very nice, btw) winter boots but when you put on your Christmas heels, the reality comes crashing down.
Feet, just like any other part of our body, need some TLC. ‘What people don’t realise is that the feet age very much like the face,’ podiatraist Margaret Dabbs tells me. ‘Skin thins, the sweat glands reduce in effectiveness, you lose the subcutaneous fat and the muscle structures relax.’ In other words, if we started treating our face like we do our feet, we’d be in a lot of trouble so here’s how to look after them this winter.
Getting new shoes is both a blessing and a curse because on the one hand: woohoo new shoes! On the other; hello blisters. Blisters are the body’s way of protecting our skin - a bubble of fluid forms between the upper layer of skin (epidermis) and the layers below, as a way to stop any further damage. Nice work, body. Thing is, they look gross and they can really hurt.
Instead of going in full throttle with new shoes and wearing them all day, do it slowly instead. Margaret suggests wearing them in for a couple of hours at a time, like when you're at your desk. If you’re impatient, wearing two pairs of socks can help because the friction is between them rather than your foot and the shoe.
These Compeed Blister Plasters, £4.99, work really well to prevent blisters but also to protect and help heal any that have already formed. If you don’t want any fugly plasters on show use the Compeed Anti-Blister Stick, £4.25, instead which helps reduce rubbing.
As tempting as it is, try not to burst the blister because it can lead to further troubles like infection, instead let it do its thing and keep it at bay with one of those plasters. If you really can’t stand it, make sure you pierce it with a sterile needle, clean it properly afterwards with anti-bacterial solution and cover it over to heal.
When I ask Margaret what her number one tip for better feet is, she tells me it’s moisturising them. ‘You need something specifically for feet. Body products don’t work because the feet are so much thicker: leave them at the ankle, you wouldn’t use them on the face.’
Dehydrated feet are a big issue in winter because of central heating drying them out. As well as that, feet often swell from high heels or closed in shoes and the increased blood circulation. ‘It’s when the swelling goes down that you get the dehydration and the scaly skin, ‘ Margaret explains. ‘The skin has broken. If you can imagine a balloon that you blow up and then deflate - it’s like that.’ Invest in a good foot cream like the Margaret Dabbs Foot Hygiene Cream, £18, which contains emu oil to hydrate the skin. The Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Foot Cream 10% Urea, £11, is also really moisturising.
It's important to moisturise daily and Margaret recommends scrubbing and filing (with a foot file on dry skin) once a week too, which will help with hard skin.
If you insist on wearing 6 inch heels all day, don’t be surprised if the balls of your feet start giving you jip. Margaret suggests switching up the height and type if you’re going to wear heels all day; ‘Wear one high heel to one and another later. Varying the design and height will make a world of difference.’ And if that means buying new shoes then what can you do? It’s professional advice, after all.
If you know what chill blains are it’s probably because you’ve had them and for that, I feel for you. Margaret says they’re really rare now, so if you are one of the unfortunate few (like me) this one’s for you. I swear by the Snowfire Ointment Stick, £3.99, for helping my chilblains, even if it does smell really bad. Put it on morning and night and it’ll make a big difference. Avoiding constricting hoisery and shoes helps too, Margaret tells me.
Circulation also has a big part to play because they’re caused by sudden changes in temperature so if they’re warm to begin with, they less likely to flare up. Not to state the obvious but exercise, especially in the morning, will help kickstart your circulation.
Athlete’s foot (which I’ve spoken about before, lucky me) can be a particular problem in winter because of closed shoes and thick socks. These humid conditions are bacteria’s favourite conditions to multiply in. ‘Change socks and tights as often as you can and change your shoes daily. This means they’ll have a chance to dry out,’ Margaret explains. Again, her Hygiene Cream is great for keeping this at bay because it contains Tea Tree Oil which is known for it’s anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Like this? You might also be interested in:
Follow Chemmie on Twitter @chemsquier
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating