Blisters 3 min read

Socks 101: How many socks you should be wearing this winter?

Socks 101: How many socks you should be wearing this winter? Socks 101: How many socks you should be wearing this winter? Socks 101: How many socks you should be wearing this winter?

Whilst it may be tempting to cocoon your feet from the cold by wearing several pairs of socks during the winter months, especially if you’re out and about in extreme conditions, does wearing too many socks have an adverse effect?

The team at Compeed investigates with a helping hand from Harley Street podiatrist Marion Yau. 

Can you wear too many socks?

While socks are great for keeping you warm, you’re always at risk of your feet becoming too warm and sweatiness occurring, particularly if you’re also wearing thick shoes with synthetic padding. Multiple socks can hinder the wicking of moisture leading to sweat getting trapped within the inner lining. The subsequent damp conditions can lead to discomfort, chafing, blisters and odour and also provides a breeding ground for fungus and bacteria.

Marion reinforces the point. “If you wear too many socks, your feet can suffocate,” she says.

“The moisture produced by your feet will have nowhere to go and this could lead to sweatiness. The sweat on the feet can interact with the bacteria and fungus on the skin and lead to a foul smell and infections such as athlete’s foot.”

While wearing two pairs of socks can be useful when wearing loose shoes, if you’re trying to squeeze into shoes that are a tighter fit, you could end up feeling uncomfortable and experience unwanted friction.

“Another drawback is that it may lead to structural changes within the feet, as an increase in the number of socks can become too tight for the feet and even restrict growth,” says Marion.

“This could lead to foot deformities such as claw toes and ingrown toenails.  If you wear multiple long socks that are too tight, this can restrict circulation to the lower limb, which can be very dangerous.”

The type of socks you’re wearing can make a difference too. Cotton socks don’t wick moisture, so if they get sweaty or damp your feet will remain sweaty and damp. Rather than wearing multiple pairs of cotton socks, you may want to invest in wool or other insulating materials.

If your feet are cold and your shoes have the room, wearing an extra pair of socks is usually fine, but avoid wearing more than two pairs of socks and consider investing in warmer socks. Quality over quantity can be best in this situation!


How can you avoid getting blisters during the winter months?

When it’s cold, we typically have to start wearing bigger, warmer boots – which can start out feeling tight and uncomfortable and can lead to blisters.

“Wear thick socks to prevent friction against the shoe, or wear two socks. In the winter, avoid wearing brand-new shoes because the skin on your feet needs time to adjust to the new material. If you must, break them in slowly and use blister plasters, anti-blister sticks, or fleecy web to protect the skin against friction from shoes,” says Marion.

In addition to wearing thicker socks, you can also use blister plasters to help prevent new blisters and treat existing ones. Compeed blister plasters provide a protective, cushioning environment to allow the blister to heal quickly whilst also offering pain relief to the area.

How to keep your feet warm this winter

Alongside wearing warm socks and potentially doubling up the amount of socks you’re wearing on especially cold days, there are other things you can do to keep your feet warm in the winter.

  • Don’t have bare feet – even indoors, and especially if you have wooden floors. Bed socks, slippers and indoor shoes are your friends.
  • Keep your feet warm at night while you’re in bed to set you up for the day. It can feel weird to wear socks in bed, but doing so can help keep them toasty as you sleep. Your body temperature drops when you start sleeping and continues to drop during the night, before starting to rise as you start to wake up. It’s important to make sure you’re warm enough when you go to sleep, as you will get colder during the night.
  • Keep your socks and feet dry. Wear waterproof shoes, carry extra socks just in case and avoid walking in big puddles!
  • Hot air rises, so keeping your feet elevated – by putting them on a stool when sitting down for example – can help keep them warm. Floor level is typically the coldest part of the room, so try to keep your feet elevated as much as possible and comfortable.
  • Wear woolly socks in the winter, as wool is an insulating material. Cotton is breathable and so is good for the summer, but cotton won’t keep your feet warm.
  • Move your legs and feet to keep the blood circulating and to keep your body warm.