Foot care is important no matter what the calendar says, but it’s especially crucial to your health and comfort during the colder months of fall and winter. For people with circulation problems and/or diabetes, it’s imperative that you pay attention to your feet and set yourself up for maximum comfort.
Diabetes, Circulation, and Foot Problems
Poor circulation is something millions of people deal with. While uncomfortable, it isn’t always life-threatening or severely painful. Some of the top symptoms of poor circulation include:
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Cold hands or feet
- Brittle toenails and/or dry and cracked skin
- Hair loss on the feet and legs
- Slow healing wounds and sores
- Erectile dysfunction
Poor circulation can be linked to things like smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, but is commonly linked back to diabetes.
“In people with diabetes, if high blood glucose levels are experienced over a period of years, our blood vessels can become damaged which can lead to plaque forming in the blood vessels rendering them unable to deliver a sufficient amount of blood to neighbouring cells,” Diabetes.co.uk explains.
The biggest issue with poor circulation is that it often leads to peripheral neuropathy and numbness in the feet. While this might seem like more a nuisance than anything else, it’s actually a serious threat to your health and well-being. Small sores can develop and you might not notice them for many days or weeks.
“Left untreated, these little problems can become major infections that invade the bones,” health expert Lynn Yoffee writes for Everyday Health. “What’s more, poor circulation from diabetes means any ulcers and infections are harder to heal. If an infection invades your bones, then amputation could be required to save your life.”
3 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Winter
While those suffering from poor circulation experience uncomfortable symptoms year-round, the winter months are the worst. Cold weather has an adverse impact on blood circulation and cardiovascular health, which may put you at greater risk.
When the weather changes from warm to cold, the change in temperature causes thermal stress on the body. Suddenly, your body has to work harder to maintain a normal temperature. This stress makes your blood thicker and stickier, which also makes it more likely to clot.
Furthermore, blood vessels constrict to help conserve body heat, which raises your blood pressure and creates a smaller space through which blood can circulate. For those who already suffer from poor circulation, this can exacerbate existing conditions and symptoms.
As you prepare for colder weather, it’s imperative that you pay attention to your circulatory issues – and specifically your feet. Here are a few tips to keep you safe and comfortable this winter:
1. Ensure Proper Circulation
The first and most important goal is to ensure your feet are getting the proper circulation they need to remain healthy. You can do this via a number of ways:
- The first key is to maintain a proper diet. Low blood sugar levels exacerbate neuropathies, which directly inhibits circulation to the feet and hands. Be sure to stay on top of your diet and check your blood sugar levels regularly throughout the day to prevent circulation issues.
- The second thing you need to do is get proper physical activity. You don’t need a rigorous exercise regimen. Even going on a couple of short walks per day is enough to encourage blood flow to the extremities, which will reduce numbness and promote proper circulation throughout the body.
- If you’re a smoker, you have to quit. Smoking constricts your blood vessels, which hurts circulation and also makes diabetic pain worse.
- Massage therapy is very helpful if you suffer from chronic circulation issues. Whether you go see a professional masseuse or simply use your own hands to gently work on your feet and calves, this will help improve blood flow
Most people don’t realize how much control they have over their body’s circulation. In the colder months, make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure your feet are healthy.
2. Keep Feet Soft and Healthy
Circulation is one problem, but the colder months also have a way of wreaking havoc on your skin. Use this as an excuse to pamper your feet in the wintertime. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Try a warm water soak at least once per day to prevent cracking. Just fill a foot tub up with warm water and mix in a little mild liquid soap. Next, add in a handful of sea salt and stir the water. Soak your feet for roughly 15 to 20 minutes and then gently scrub with a pumice stone to remove dead skin cells. After rinsing your feet and drying them with a soft towel, apply a natural foot cream. Wait a couple of minutes and then put on a clean pair of soft cotton socks.
- If you want to keep your feet moisturized and free from harmful bacteria, a weekly brown sugar scrub can be useful. Simply combine ½ teaspoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon raw honey and extra virgin olive oil, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. The mixture will form a paste. Soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes and then apply the paste. Rinse and dry properly.
3. Stay Warm and Comfortable
The biggest key is to keep your feet warm and comfortable during the colder months. Always wear socks in the house and be sure you wear sturdy, waterproof shoes that are free of holes when going outside. The more comfortable you are, the less likely your feet will have issues.
Schedule an Appointment Today
At Step by Step Family Foot Care, we specialize in treating a variety of common ailments. Whether you need diabetic care, are experiencing chronic foot pain, need help finding the right orthotics, or anything in between, we can help.
We would love to sit down and discuss your specific issues in-person. Contact us today and book an appointment with one of our foot care specialists.