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How to look after your feet this winter

When winter rolls around, we’re quick to cover up our feet and forget they’re there.

But when our feet are all wrapped up, it’s easy for the skin to dry out, crack, and even become infected.

Dr John Niemotko has been a podiatrist for over 13 years. Here are his top tips for keeping your feet in good shape when the temperature drops: 

Moisturise your feet

“In winter, we’re wearing socks all the time, in shoes or slippers,” says Dr Niemotko. “So after we have a shower we just dry them off and often the skin can become hard or dry at the bottom of the feet, and then it can crack.”

Niemotko says that the best way to stop your feet from cracking is to apply a good quality moisturising cream with a high urea content. He recommends DU’IT foot & heel balm, which has a urea content of 25 per cent.

“If you go for a cheaper alternative and just put it on your feet it gets absorbed really quickly into the skin, into the body,” he says. “And then you might as well have not put any on at all.”

Dr Niemotko says that DU’IT is great because it breaks down the hard skin and stops cracks, keeps away any bad bacteria, and stops itching. He even uses it himself.

If you’re struggling to bend over and apply the cream, here’s Dr Niemotko’s tip:  “Just put some cream on the top of your foot and then you get your other foot and you start rubbing it on the heel, on the bottom of the foot.”

But try not to get the cream in between your toes, creating a moist environment there can lead to a fungal infection. 

Mind the cracks

While cracks are initially just a cosmetic concern, they can create a fissure in the skin that can bleed and become infected if left untreated. The worst-case scenario for an infection in a cracked heal, especially if you suffer from diabetes, is that the limb requires amputation.

“They’ve done studies over the years where they’ve found that up to 20 per cent of people actually don’t survive 5 years after amputation. This is where putting a bit of cream on your foot every day can actually save your life,” says Dr Niemotko. 

Give your socks and slippers a wash

As the cold creeps into your bones, it becomes easy to go a few days without changing socks. Some of us might not even wear socks, but keep our feet nice and snug in a pair of slippers or ugg boots.

But this is a recipe for disaster, says Dr Niemotko. Tinea and other fungal diseases thrive in dark, moist environments like the end of your slippers.

Washing your ugg boots, slippers and socks in canesten from your local supermarket, then leaving them in the sun to dry, is the best way to kill all the nasty fungus that can grow in them, says Dr Niemotko.