Wintertime can really take a big toll on your skin. From the dry air, the hot showers, and nipping wind, your skin tends to become dry. Our feet seem to be especially affected. It seems that you go to bed in the fall, and wake up two weeks later with ankles that are rough, cracked, and sometimes bleeding.

So just how can you provide your feet with the best wintertime care? What can you do to take care of that difficult area of skin?

Do You Have to Take Care of Your Feet?

While we often take very good care of the skin on our face and neck, and most people do a decent job of caring for the skin on their arms and legs, many people tend to overlook that which they can't see: their feet, especially the bottoms.

It seems the season of boots, especially, tends to give people the idea that their feet can be neglected. The skin on your feet, particularly the bottom, is a lot tougher and thicker than other parts of your skin, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't receive the same TLC as the rest of you. In fact, it's even more important to take care of your feet in the wintertime. Cold weather, damp socks (from a day spent skiing outside), and overly-heated air can cause all sorts of problems like cracked skin, fungal infections, and "winter heels."

According to podiatrist Dina Gohil, the blood supply in your feet is affected by climate. "As the temperature fluctuates the skin is left hot or cold. When you feet feel cold, it means the skin's blood supply to the top layers have been reduced to preserve heat." Wearing tight tights and cramming fluffy socks into your boots can restrict blood supply, too.

This all adds up to your feet screaming for some breathing room, fresh air, and TLC.

Take It Easy On Your Feet

There's more to wintertime footwear than just staying warm and dry on the slopes. When picking out those boots, choose ones that have plenty of padding, but are also roomy enough so that they don't cut off the circulation in your feet and toes. Your feet still need to breath, so avoid fabrics that don't allow your feet to breathe. Cold sweaty feet can contribute to frostbite. If your feet are wet or sweaty, you'll need to remove your footwear as soon as you're able. Once your feet warm up, if they stay wet, you'll be susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.

It's especially important to opt for socks made of natural, breathable materials. Wool or other moisture-wicking socks can help to control sweat.

Take a break from the pretty toenail polish during the cold season. No one's looking at your feet wrapped up in slippers, anyway. This will give your nails a chance to rid themselves of the discolorations that formaldehyde-full lacquers created on them. Taking a break from using polish remover can give your nails a break so they can fight being so dry. Without a covering of polish, your bare nails will be able to better soak up lotions and creams.

Moisturize Your Wintertime Feet

As your skin tends to dry out in the wintertime, we know to slather on the moisturizer to quench thirsty skin. Your feet shouldn't be left out in the cold on this one. They go through a lot each day, and when they aren't maintained can become dry and cracked. That's especially true in the winter when dry air and heaters can really zap the moisture from your body. Proper hydration is an essential element for healthier skin.

The highly-emollient Glowbiotics Probiotic Moisture Rich Replenishing Cream has the ability to tap into the skin's immune system and enhance the skin's function with anti-inflammatory benefits, skin renewing capabilities, and self-generating functions that can increase key proteins. It can do it all without added parabens, sulfates or phthalates, so even health-challenged people like diabetics can take advantage.

Use a good quality cream that includes an emollient or humectant (or both) to keep your feet feeling smooth and pampered. That will help your feet receive ample moisture. The best time of the day to apply a moisturizer is right after bathing. When your feet are slightly damp and well-hydrated from the shower, take advantage and lock in that moisture before you use a lotion to seal it from the environment.

But because the harsh winter months are especially difficult for feet, you should apply your moisturizer more than once a day. When you help to prevent dry, cracked feet early on, you can help to prevent further issues down the road.

A Few Extra Wintertime Foot Care Tips

Keep exercising. It's pretty easy to slack in that department during the cold months, but laying around on the couch all day can lead to foot and ankle swelling. At the very least, do a few basic leg exercises to keep your blood flowing.

Exfoliate your feet daily with a pumice stone or sugar scrub. Sloughing off all of your calluses at once will probably only make them come back with a vengeance. Instead, gently smooth them out a little each day for a few minutes. It'll make a huge difference in the appearance and texture of your feet.

Don't forget your nails, especially if you're active. Use an oil on your cuticles to keep them hydrated, helping to strengthen your nails. Using coconut oil or something infused with tea tree oil is great, because they're antibacterial and antimicrobial.

Caring for your feet is important year 'round, but it's especially so in the wintertime. If you are a diabetic or suffer from other health-related issues that could affect your feet or legs, all the more reason to provide TLC. If you notice anything wrong with your feet, call your local podiatrist right away.