How To Take Care of Your Winter Feet

After living in Canada for a year and a half, I have had to re-learn how to do foot care. I gave up on foot care after I left ballet. It wasn’t important to take care of my feet regularly in sunny California or rainy, humid London because the climate didn’t require it. After my first winter in Calgary, I thought, “Yay!! No more foot care for at least 3 months!!” I was dead wrong. I still had to take care of my feet in the summer. It should have been a clue when I heard the following quote.

“Canada is not for the cold of heart or the cold of feet.” – Pierre Trudeau

Before I Share My Foot Care Advice, A Few Things:

Disclaimer: I HATE feet!!

I used to be a ballet dancer, so of course, I hate feet.

Don’t worry. I won’t be sharing any pictures of my dancer’s feet!

I have Small Foot Syndrome because everyone I knew was surprised I had small feet, even for a dancer. Still, I am happy I knew about foot care before I moved to Canada, even though I have a strong case of foot care fatigue. Winter foot care applies to the summer too. Don’t think you can’t get problems by walking a lot in sandals. I only call it winter foot care because winter is the dominant season here.

Prevention is Better than Cure:

That is extremely true for feet! When you get new winter boots or even any type of shoe, you learn where the rub points are. The best thing you can do is put Band-Aids or Moleskin on the areas before going outside! When I was in ballet, I would tape my toes prior to putting my pointe shoes on. That drastically reduced the number of blisters I got! The same thing is true for putting Band-Aids on areas where your shoes rub before you go outside. If your feet are blister-free, try to keep it that way! I used microporous tape and made sure it was good quality. Bad quality tape does NOT prevent blisters! At all. Band-Aids work well for wrapping my toes in shoes though.

Additionally, be mindful of how you put your shoes or boots on and take them off. I’m serious. That can determine whether you get blisters. Last winter, I kept my boots laced and slid my feet into them. It didn’t matter that I had Band-Aids on my heel. It still dug into my heel. Sliding my feet into my boots moved my socks into the wrong position too, even though I didn’t know it. Once I loosened the laces before putting my boots on and made sure my socks were in the right position, no more blisters on my heel!

When I lived in Colorado, I learned how to ice-skate and enjoyed that sport for three years! I found the lessons I learned in not letting my socks wrinkle and not sliding my feet in my boots are similar to putting on ice skates.

A Note About Boots and Sub-Zero Temperatures:

Too many layers of socks can give you blisters too. Blister prevention is critical in sub-zero temperatures because frostbite is a danger once the temperature drops to -20 C or below. Have you ever seen Scott of the Antarctic starring Sir John Mills? Well, it shows how damaged skin leads to frostbite. Know how many layers you need inside your boots and make sure they don’t wrinkle as well! Last winter, I walked a total of 20 blocks when it was -30 C with a windchill of almost -40 C. It was my first time doing something like that. Before I left, I inspected my hands and feet for damaged skin. When I left, I automatically knew that if I hadn’t checked for damaged skin, I would have turned back. When it’s too cold to be outside with damaged skin, no amount of layering makes it feel better. IYKYK.

Blister Cures:

If after all the prevention, blisters still happen, here’s what I do. Have you ever had a painful bubble of skin and wondered whether to pop it or leave it? Here’s my answer: Pop it. Plus, if you follow my steps below, it will feel a lot better, and faster.

  1. Soak your feet in warm/hot water with unscented Epsom salts. Scented ones irritate your skin. Move your feet around because it helps the blister stop hurting sooner.
  2. When your feet get wrinkly, or when the blister stops hurting, take a sterilized implement (I use nail scissors or a nail clipper) and burst it. Or get someone to burst it for you. Note: if waiting for your feet to get wrinkly isn’t an option for you due to nerve damage, wait until the blister stops hurting to pop it.
  3. Keep your feet in the warm water until the pain goes away.
  4. Wrap it snugly in a Band-Aid (it needs pressure). You can put something to moisturize the skin too if you want.
  5. Put on some socks that you love and put your feet up later (I will explain in a minute what my recommendations for that are).

You’ll be amazed at how much faster your blisters heal!

Cracked Skin:

When I was a ballet dancer, putting lotion on my feet was VERBOTEN after starting to dance en pointe! I basically went 8 years without moisturizing my feet while I was in ballet, and then it was another 10 years of never needing to do it. When I moved to Calgary, it felt brand new to me to start moisturizing my feet.

I found some foot masks at Dollarama which are great for moisturizing or exfoliating. I use them once a month during winter. Additionally, I use a cream that is dermatologically approved. In terms of cream, I like to use a balance between ones that are dermatologically approved and ones that are environmentally friendly. My favourite brands are both Burt’s Bees (for environmentally friendly) and Cerave (for dermatologically approved). It’s a shame that so far, I haven’t found anything that has both qualities. I’ll bide my time though. Here’s what I do: I keep an organic, environmentally friendly cream with honey in my bag. I apply it before I go outside in subzero temperatures and reapply while outside as needed. I also use organic, environmentally friendly face cream. When I need something to moisturize deeper into my skin, I use dermatologically approved cream.

When I was living in London, there was this solution that I bought called Surgical Spirit. I know, kind of a creepy name right? It was an alcohol solution that contained castor oil to prevent your skin from cracking. It toughens your skin without drying it out. I used it every night after my bath when I was in ballet. If liquids were still allowed on planes, I would go to the UK and fill up a suitcase with Surgical Spirit! But, since I can’t do that, Mum figured out how to make it! With her chemistry background and my ballet background, we make a good team!

Recipe for Surgical Spirit Substitute:

  • 1 cup Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
  • 1/4 cup Listerine
    • Note: It must be Listerine! It has the required amount of methylated spirits.
  • 1 tbsp Castor Oil

Mix together well.

The reason this works so well is the alcohol breaks up the dense fat molecules in the castor oil. Give this a try and let me know if you see a difference in how tough your skin is!

Calluses, Corns and Plantar Warts:

I keep a steady supply of callus removers and corn removers. Plus, if anyone gets a plantar wart, god forbid, we have home treatment supplies for that. I’m currently treating this plantar wart that I have had for years without knowing it, and doing it aggressively! Summer is the time to treat plantar warts because I’m not shoving my feet into winter boots! One thing I have not tried yet, but will likely try next year is getting a medical pedicure after putting my winter boots away. That way, my feet will be all refreshed for summer. I’ll let you know how that goes!

My Mum knows that if she sends me to the pharmacy to get one thing for our feet, I will come back with things to replenish our supply of what we currently have! She’s fine with it because that’s the ballet dancer in me! We joke that we should buy stock in Life Brand, Dr. Scholls and Compound W!

Footbaths:

Remember the post I did about the best material possessions I got since moving here? There’s a reason why some of those items have to do with feet! A proper footbath is an investment here, not a luxury! During the winter, I use it once a week to get rid of dead skin. A buildup of dead skin is a bad thing when you have months of winter ahead of you!

I deliberately got a footbath that runs for an hour. Twenty minutes in a footbath is not enough to get rid of dead skin! Originally, I bought a footbath with a 20-minute limit, but the motor started to smell after 10 minutes, even when I used it the first time. A strong motor is imperative! I also use a pumice stone and scraper on my feet when my footbath is done but the water is cooling down. I change the pumice stone and scraper every 6-12 months.

Nice Socks and Leg Pillows!:

After I have had a rough day on my feet (or not), there’s nothing I love more than wearing nice socks and raising my feet on a leg pillow! In the post I referenced in the previous section, I talked about the leg pillow and reading socks that I got. I personally love leg pillows that are adjustable. Mine can be used in four different ways! It benefits circulation to raise your feet to your heart level on a regular basis. But there are some other benefits. Sometimes, my skin gets this burning feeling when I wear shoes too long. Putting my feet up relieves it, but also wearing special socks.

I wear different socks depending on what I need. If my feet are too hot, I just go barefoot. Sometimes, I need something super soft against my feet because the skin feels tender, so I wear my reading socks. I can’t believe I didn’t discover toe socks until my mid-20s! They would have been a lifesaver in ballet! I have moments where the joints feel bad and putting on toe socks relieves the joints because it spreads my toes a bit to relieve the inflammation. As a former dancer, I absolutely LOVE good-quality socks! You would have thought I had a major sock fetish if you knew me when I was in ballet!

I have some other hacks for footcare and winter self-care, but that’s another post! Hope you liked what I had to say about the subject from a dancer’s perspective. What do you do for foot care? Let me know in the comments!

What I’m Doing While I Wait to Move

Yes, I have chores to do to prepare to move. However, this time, I have had a lot more free time than I did before. Maybe that’s due to the pandemic, but also I think it’s down to experience. I love that though! That means I get to do more Self Care because this pandemic is mentally draining.

I have been on lockdown for almost SIX months now and I’m reaching the point that I don’t want to have to stay at home so other people can be reckless about their safety. This isn’t just me complaining that life is unfair. This situation really IS unfair because people being reckless means the good ones have to lock down for even longer. I have to remind myself that if I don’t get COVID-19, it will all be worth it. I think my previous post Pain, Fire and Other MovingΒ Upheavals summed it up pretty well. Also, since my last post, it is still smoky from the fires. I’m still safe though, thankfully. I got another couple photos of the sunset from last night, and the smoke still gives it a certain redness.

Another sunset during fire season

Life’s not all bad though. I have found some fun things to do, like games. Cards Against Humanity has been the most cathartic game during the pandemic because sometimes, I have been downright frustrated with the world! I have been playing some other games online, and they are Minesweeper, Mahjong, and Scrabble Go!

I have been on and off with reading right now because my books are packed. However, I will always love the feminist poetry of Lang Leav and Rupi Kaur, and I hope to take their books with me. I love that they write about immigration as part of their poetry. Women are affected by immigration in a different way than men. I will do a post about their work sometime and what it means to me.

I’m continuing to watch movies with French subtitles where possible to brush up on my French as well. I am also learning the differences between French French and Canadian French. Watch this space for a post about French dialects, because it’s not the first time I have had to contend with them! I’ll do another post about English English, American English, and Canadian English sometime soon too.

The best thing of all is I can pursue the things I have wanted to do. I have been wanting to write a book based on my life with immigration and growing up in different cultures. Now, I can start doing that. The pandemic has shown me that I really love writing and I want to pursue it wholeheartedly. I also want to turn my passions into my profession and have the money and freedom to be able to pursue my life goals and deal with any problems that arise. The Dalai Lama once said, β€œMan surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” He has many great quotes, but this one resonates the most with me.

Additionally, certain things depress me about the world. For instance, I don’t want to work someplace I have a moral issue with. I have become more of a conscious buyer lately. I love to support businesses that have certain values I believe in. Whether they are green, black-owned, sustainable, feminist, LGBTQIA+, to name but a few, I love knowing that my money is going someplace with shared values. Also, as a woman myself, I am aware of the struggles women face in the workplace, mainly because I have experienced a lot of these myself. The idea of getting a job and facing these issues again feels like a drain of my resources. Don’t get me wrong, I know I will need to get a job at some point until I can finally be my own boss, but I intend to work part-time so I can put the time and effort into my own enterprise. Writing my book is a part of growing my own enterprise. I don’t want to give away too much about the rest of it, but watch this space!

Since I am looking to do my own enterprise someday, I wanted to learn more about leadership, particularly for women. So, while I am waiting to move, I am doing a course called Women’s Leadership: Inspiring Positive Change. It’s very informative and gives me a lot of hope. Women are typically subjected to a lot of double standards in this world, thanks to bias, both conscious and unconscious. This course has shown me there are ways around these double standards, and how you can make things work in your favor. There’s a long way to go to break the glass ceiling, particularly for women of different ethnic and racial groups. To all the women fighting these injustices, particularly those from different backgrounds, keep it up! I believe in all of you! A rising tide floats all boats and someday, I believe women will rule the world!

Just wanted to shout out to all my supporters and followers at this time! You are the people who make me feel like being my own boss someday is not only possible, but it will be worth it! Love you guys and big hugs!

I make a point of finding joy and/or hope in the most random things. Last weekend, I made a lemon chiffon cake with my Mum. I made some raspberry jam to go in the middle. The lemons and raspberries came from my Mum’s garden and they were to die for! My Mum decorated the top with rosemary flowers and our remaining raspberries.

Lemon Chiffon Cake with raspberry jam and Rosemary Flowers

When I look back on this time, I think what I will value most is my burst in curiosity. I have been exploring my TCK identity a lot more with writing for this blog, my column, and starting a book. Curiosity leads to creativity and I’m glad to see where that has taken me. Additionally, I need to be patient for moving because I really can’t wait to leave! I want to stay long enough so I can vote. Hopefully, it will be enough to change who is running the country!Β 

Let me make it clear though. I don’t believe in Biden or Harris. I think there could have been a better Democratic candidate. It’s hard to believe in the Democrats when they keep running the same old same old middle of the road candidates that kiss up to big businesses and screw the population. Okay, rant over! I just hope that there will be more public pressure to make lasting changes to the US. I especially hope more and more people pay attention to the Black Lives Matter movement!

How has the pandemic changed life for you? Feel free to share in the comments!