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Winter Chill Can Be Tough on Your Toes

Avoid sweaty feet and a host of problems

SATURDAY, Nov. 15, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Sweaty feet and winter are a bad combination.

Not only do you run the risk of developing frostbite, but you could also be prone to trench foot and athlete's foot, experts say.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet. To compensate, the body shuts down peripheral circulation. Less blood circulating to the feet means less oxygen and nutrients, and skin tissue begins to die, a condition which can lead to trench foot.

Because wet feet get cold more quickly, they're also at an increased risk of developing frostbite.

Athlete's foot, a fungal infection, is also more likely to thrive in moist, damp places such as feet when they're sweaty.

Fortunately, these prevention strategies can stave off all three of these conditions:

  • Check your feet regularly to see if they are wet.
  • If your feet are wet, dry them and put on a new pair of dry socks and dry shoes.
  • Change your socks at least once a day.
  • Do not sleep with wet socks on.
  • Look for socks that are made of an acrylic fiber, not cotton. Acrylic wicks moisture away from the feet.
  • Choose shoes that are waterproof and insulated, and be sure to check insulated shoes for leaks before use, advises Dr. Donald Hovancsek of the American Podiatric Medical Association.
  • Make sure socks and shoes are not too tight, as this can impede circulation.
  • Cover your feet with antiperspirant. The active ingredient, aluminum hydroxide, keeps your feet from sweating.

More information

The Podiatry Network has more on athlete's foot.

SOURCES: Donald Hovancsek, M.D., American Podiatric Medical Association; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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