Tips for Preventing Dry Feet and Cracked Heels
We are arriving in a fresh, new year and this is a great time to focus on your health. Perhaps you’re one of the millions of people who are starting a new exercise program or adjusting your dietary habits. If so, that’s a great move, but don’t forget to show your feet some love this year, too!
Your lower limbs work harder than you probably realize. When you walk, you put approximately one-and-a-half times your bodyweight on the landing foot with every step. (It’s about three times your bodyweight when you run.) Between the forces they endure, and all of their structural components—your feet contain one-fourth of all the bones in your body. There are numerous issues that can arise in your lower body, including excessively dry skin.
Now, we know dry foot skin doesn’t sound like a major problem, especially if you think about everything that can possibly go wrong with your body. What’s important to bear in mind, though, is that major issues often start with something small. This can certainly be the case when it comes to dry feet and cracked heels.
Dry, cracked heels can be quite painful, which is bad enough, but they also place you at risk for potential infections. Contaminants like bacteria and fungus can enter the body through fissures, especially when they are deep.
Before we delve into how you can prevent dry feet and cracked heels, let’s take a look at some of the factors as to why we see this problem so often at our office.
Your body relies on oil glands to keep skin moist pretty much everywhere on your body, except your feet. Instead of oil glands, feet contain hundreds of thousand sweat glands for moisture. The inherent problem here is that sweat evaporates quicker than oil. Arid, dry environments—and California is more desert than non-Californians realize—contribute to this.
When feet are exposed to the dry California air, they become dry as well. Now, take a moment and think about the footwear you wear and see others wear. We aren’t mind-readers (we’re podiatrists!), but you’re probably thinking about flips-flops or open-toed and open-backed shoes. These kinds of footwear keep skin continually exposed to our arid environment.
As you might be able to conclude, one of the keys for preventing dry foot skin is to wear closed footwear. This will help keep moisture in, instead of having it soaked up by the “thirsty” arid air. Of course, we understand if you want to wear open-toed or open-backed shoes. That can be all right, as long as you do so in moderation. Save the fancy shoes for special occasions and your flip-flops for the beach.
Other tips to prevent cracked heels and dry feet:
- Limit the time you spend in the bath or shower, and don’t turn the temperature to the hottest setting (hot water dries out your skin)
- Toss your old, harsh soap bars and pick up ones with moisturizing ingredients
- Periodically debride callused skin by gently rubbing a pumice stone on the affected area
- Moisturize after your bath or shower
For even better protection from dryness, use urea cream as your moisturizer of choice (because it works the best). We offer this and other products through our Hawthorne office to support your treatment plan and save you time searching them out in a store. Please don’t hesitate to ask what items may best suit any of your needs when you come in for your appointment.
If you would like additional information, or need to come see us for foot and ankle care, give us a call at (310) 675-0900. Our staff will be glad to answer any questions or set you up with a visit, so call us today!