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Posts for tag: sweat wicking

If the temperatures outside are keeping you indoors this time of year, you’re not alone. I hate the cold. For the brave souls who like to venture out into the snowy weather, a few words of caution. Your toes need to be protected! Proper footwear is always a must because frostbite and chilblains are common foot injuries brought on by the cold. As usual, they are easy to avoid if we understand how they happen and what to do about it.

 

Frostnip

Many people will know frostbite, but there is a milder form of cold injury called frostnip. Just because it’s milder, doesn’t mean it still isn't uncomfortable and bad for your feet. It generally begins in the toes. The skin will turn white or flush red and feel extremely cold to the touch. In a short time, this can lead to numbness or a feeling of pins and needles. Without rewarming, frostnip will lead to frostbite. Think of it as an early warning sign and get yourself indoors where your feet can get care. Soak your feet in water, but bring the temperature up very gradually. Don’t start with hot water; you probably can’t feel if it’s too hot and scalding your feet.

 

READ MORE: Winter Boot Buying Guide

 

Frostbite

In the cold, the blood vessels nearest the skin narrow, diverting blood to the core of the body to protect the vital organs. Unfortunately, this leaves fingers, toes, and nose tips left out in the cold. Literally. Since your body is no longer trying to warm those areas, they have no defense against cold injuries. If you leave them exposed, frostbite will slowly freeze the skin and tissue underneath. In severe cases, tissue will die and need to be surgically removed. If you think you are developing frostbite, seek medical treatment immediately.

 

Chilblains

Most people know what frostnip and frostbite are and how to avoid them, but there is another type of cold injury that can occur even when it's not below freezing. Chilblains is a condition in which the feet react to cold with inflammation. This causes red patches, itching, swelling, and can be accompanied by painful blisters, called pernio. Just like nail fungus likes to grow in warm and moist socks, chilblains like to form in cold and damp socks. Frostbite can onset quickly due to freezing temperatures, but chilblains occur from long exposure to mild cold and humidity. You may not even feel it happening, but long term damage is being done to your blood vessels. Symptoms can stick around for a while without proper treatment, so get yourself to a podiatrist asap.

 

To prevent any cold injury there are some basic steps to follow. Keep your feet warm at all times. When going outside, wear warm socks that pull moisture away from the skin (wool is a good choice). If you don’t have a lot of body fat to keep you warm, add an extra layer of socks. Same thing if you have excessively sweaty feet. Avoid rapid temperature changes if your feet do get too cold. Never warm up your feet if there is a chance of them refreezing before reaching proper medical care.

READ MORE: Keep Your Feet Warm

Winter is fully upon us and in the midst of all your shopping frenzy, you may have noticed all the signs for new winter boots! Buy One, Get One Free or Clearance Prices may get our attention, but what about the boots themselves? How do we know if that sweet deal is going to treat our feet right? Here is a list of practical must-haves in your next pair of winter boots.

 

Material

Winter is wet and having wet feet in cold weather is a serious risk, so we want to keep our tootsies dry. For practical boots (like snow boots or hiking boots), look for naturally waterproof materials such as neoprene or rubber. In fashion boots (such as you might wear to a office holiday party), go for a treated leather to get a nice slick surface with a high quality and trendy shine. Some boots will have waterproof layers sewn into the boot liners. These keep moisture from penetrating all the way down to your socks, but still allow for a bit of breathability. Look also at the tongue of the boot, does it connect to the sides to keep water out or is it disconnected? A cuff at the top of the boot will absorb water before it enters your boot and can be very handy for activities like playing in the snow.

 

Tread

The tread of your boot is the very bottom and determines how much grip the boot will have on slippery surfaces. There’s nothing worse than going over the river and through the woods only to slip on Grandma’s front walk and end up in the emergency room. Picking the tread may be the most important feature to get right. For outdoor activities, boots should have high treads, meaning lots of space and deep channels for good grip. Same thing for indoor boots! Tracked in ice and snow quickly melts and makes floors slippery. Even if you are only wearing your boots inside, make sure they have a good solid tread. Some boots offer removable outsoles with different levels of tread so your single pair of winter boots will be just as useful hiking in a winter wonderland as they are shoveling snow so you can get to work.

 

Warmth

I don’t think it needs saying that winter is cold, but I’m going to say it anyways. Winter is cold! So of course we want out winter boots to keep our feet warm. Socks can help, but the boot itself should have insulating materials such as wool or fleece linings. Synthetic insulators are good as well, but don’t get distracted by the fancy names they make up for it. Look at the actual tag and look for what the materials really are. You may even see a temperature rating on the tag, obviously the lower the temperature it protects you in, the more insulation it has.

 

Sizing

Once you’ve chosen all your other features, you need to make sure you get that amazing pair of boots in the correct size. One good way to do this is to bring your winter socks along when you try them on. Plain cotton socks just don’t cut it in the wintertime, not even inside. You need to have thermal socks made of breathable materials that wick moisture and perspiration away from the foot. A sweaty foot inside a boot can make you colder, so look for wool or similar synthetic materials. These socks tend to be thick so try them on with your boots to get a real idea of how much room you need inside. Walk around the store and make sure your foot isn’t sliding around inside the boot which can cause blisters. Try the wall kick test; just lightly kick the wall with the boot tip and if your toes hit the front of the boot, you may need to consider going up a size.

 

New shoes can make everything better, but not if they lead to pain, slipping, or cold and wet feet. Make sure you check each of these important features before heading to the checkout.

One of the best parts of freedom is the fact that we have the right to make our own choices and you need to be making the right choices to keep your feet healthy. Summer is a great season for runners, but if you want to keep your feet at their fastest you need to take care of yourself. Here are some quick tips for running in the summer months:

  1. Drink water! Lots of it!

Dehydration is a huge problem when it comes to your feet. There are 250,000 sweat glands in your feet and if you’re running outside in hot weather, you better believe that your feet are going to be pouring buckets into your shoes. Make sure you hydrate before, during, and after a run, even if you aren’t thirsty. Also, make sure you rinse and dry your feet to avoid problems associated with extra sweatiness (like athletes foot).

  1. Breathable shoes and socks

Remember those sweat glands we just talked about? Well one way to keep your feet cool and dry is to wear the proper socks and shoes. Sweat wicking socks made of nylon, polyester, and wool will pull moisture away from the skin. 100% cotton socks only absorb the moisture, but trap it against your skin, leaving your feet open to odor, bacteria, or infection. Get the right socks and your feet will thank you.

  1. Sunscreen

While you don’t have to worry about your feet getting sun burned inside your shoes, the rest of your body is subject to burn. Not only does sunscreen protect you from harmful UV rays, but it can also help prevent runners’ tan (that thing where your feet are white below your sock line). Don’t forget to lather it on even for that early morning or late evening run. Unless the sun is below the horizon, you’re absorbing those rays and you need to protect yourself.

  1. Surface

Running on varied surfaces can help protect your feet. Concrete and asphalt are very tough and put enormous amounts of pressure on your joints and bones. Running on dirt or grass is softer and thus gives you a more complete workout, but it takes a lot of concentration when you run on these surfaces to avoid trips, twists, and other ankle injuries. Overall, it’s best to work on a mixture of these surfaces. If you prefer road running, change one run a week to a trail instead. Soft surfaces absorb the shock of our bodyweight and stop it from being transferred up your feet and legs.

Why anyone would want to go running in the heat is beyond my reckoning, but if you just have to get out for your morning jog, make sure you follow through on thinking about your feet first.

If you follow the news at all, I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the legendary Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and predicts an early spring. His findings were independently verified by his Canadian counterpart Shubenacadie Sam. However, Mother Nature seems to have missed the memo and temperatures around the US have dropped this week after reaching rather high temperatures last week. If our groundhog friends are wrong, which let’s face it, they very well may be, we can look forward to lots more chilly temperatures before our spring flowers start to bloom.

Either way, it’s still winter and you still need to be wary of all that comes with it, specifically frostbite. There are no solid statistics on how many people are treated for frostnip or frostbite every year, but you can bet that it’s quite a few. Exposure to temperatures even as high as 40 degrees Fahrenheit with minimal wind chill can bring on the early stages of frostbite in just 30 minutes. It should be obvious that frostbite happens when your skin is exposed to cold temperatures without adequate protection. Most commonly affected are the toes, fingers, nose, and lips. There is a lot to know about frostbite, but let’s just stick with the basics:

How does it occur?

When your body gets cold, your blood vessels constrict and limit blood flow to your extremities, diverting the much-needed blood to maintain the temperature and function of your core organs. As this happens, the skin and tissues of your feet and hands have no ability to re-warm themselves after becoming chilled by the ambient conditions. The severity of frostbite is classified in degrees (1st degree frostbite, etc.) with fourth degree frostbite being the most dangerous. Your particular degree of frostbite is determined by how much of the skin and tissue has been frozen and how long it has stayed frozen.

During 1st and 2nd degree frostbite, the affected area becomes white or pale and painful, often with a pins and needles or burning feeling. Numbness can set in quickly and when pressed, the skin will show some resistance. This is called superficial frostbite. Deep frostbite (3rd and 4th degree) manifests with complete loss of feeling in the affected area, swelling, white or yellowish skin that turns black or purple upon re-warming, and when touched, the skin will feel solid.

What happens if I get frostbite?

If you think you have frostbite (even frostnip!) you need to immediately seek emergency medical attention. Every minute of lost warmth could mean permanent damage to skin and tissues and even result in the need for amputation. While you are waiting for emergency care, remove any wet or restrictive clothing and wrap loosely in a blanket. Do not place the area on or over any direct heat sources such as radiators or fires. Avoid refreezing at all costs!! At the hospital, doctors will re-warm the area rapidly in a hot water immersion, apply aloe vera, then wrap and elevate the area. A hospital stay of a few days can be expected, even in mild cases.

How do I prevent it?

Preventing frostbite is easy if you just stay indoors when it’s cold out. However, this isn’t always a possibility so if you do need to go out into the cold, make sure that you are properly dressed in loose layers. Warm socks (sweat wicking preferably), mittens, scarves, and hats will help protect the most at risk areas of the body. If any of your clothing (especially your socks) becomes damp or wet, seek warmth and remove them immediately. Children tend to lose body heat faster than adults so watch them closely and limit their time outdoors. People with circulatory issues (the elderly, diabetics, etc.) need to be particularly careful and attentive. Although children and senior citizens have the highest risk factors for frostbite, most cases actually affect men ages 25-40. This is most likely due to the increased homeless population in the United States. So the next time you go out to buy your family socks to keep them warm this winter, pick up an extra pack to donate. Someone else’s toes will thank you for it.

We all love our fathers, husbands, and grandfathers and we at the FAAWC wish them a very Happy Father’s Day. However, while we love them unconditionally, we could live without their smelly feet. The medical term for smelly feet is bromodosis and the cause can be linked back to bacteria living on your feet.

When we wear socks and close toed shoes our feet can sweat. Going to the gym, playing sports, moving the lawn, and running around to finish the “honey-do” list can make a man’s feet sweat profusely. Remember, our feet have more sweat glands than any other part of our body. The damp and dark conditions within our shoes provide the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and thrive. Sweat itself is odorless, but the bacteria on our feet eat the sweat and produce an acid byproduct that smells.

You may be thinking that you aren’t susceptible to this because you wear your shoes without socks, but that may be even worse. When is the last time you washed the inside of your shoes? If you are like most people, probably never. Any sweat inside your shoes that is not absorbed by your socks can lead to mold and fungus growth, which can increase odor and even lead to other foot problems.

There are many ways to prevent and treat sweaty and smelly feet. First of all, think about the types of socks you wear. Polyester and nylon socks don’t allow our feet to breathe as well as cotton and can contribute to bacteria growth. You can also look for specific moisture wicking socks. You can find these at sporting and camping stores or at your local podiatrist. If you need something dressy, go for merino wool. It may sound hot, but the properties of wool actually keep your feet cool and dry.

If you wear closed toed shoes without socks (ladies, this is probably you with shoes like flats or heels) then slip your shoes off momentarily when you feel them getting sweaty. Let the sweat evaporate for a couple of minutes and then slip your shoes back on. This will keep the interior of your shoes dry and clean.

You can get several foot sweat remedies from your podiatrist. Medicated foot powders, gels, or even odor absorbing insoles are great solutions for smelly feet.

Of course, we can’t forget that simply taking good care of our feet in the first place can help us avoid smelly feet. Checking your feet for cracked or dry skin and removing it carefully with direction from your podiatrist can help lessen smelly feet. And don’t forget to wash your feet! Scrub them gently in the shower with an anti-bacterial soap and dry them completely when you get out before putting on socks and shoes. From everyone at the Foot and Ankle Wellness Center, have a Happy Father's Day.

We all love our dads, but we could do without their smelly feet. Instead of another tie this Father’s Day, consider some moisture wicking socks or a pair of supportive open toed sandals. Of course, no matter what you get him, he will always love you back.