Dry Skin: A Rough Deal

If you think the skin on your feet often feels dryer than other parts of your body, you’re likely correct. The feet lack the oil glands present on most of the rest of our skin to keep it moisturized. Instead, they rely on a much higher concentration of sweat glands to get the job done. Dry skin can happen, however, when these glands just aren’t enough, or an underlying condition such as diabetes or a fungal infection interferes with the process. The result can range from a mild inconvenience to a painful and potentially dangerous condition.

A Desert Footscape

Although certain medical conditions can be responsible for dry feet, certain environmental and habitual factors can come into play, too. Places that regularly experience cold temperatures and low humidity will often sap moisture from feet. It doesn’t even have to be during winter; indoor conditions in a home or office can be just as bad.

Believe it or not, a lot of moisture can be lost during bathing as well. Some soaps can dry out the skin, and using excessively hot water can further draw moisture away—sorry to all you luxury shower-lovers out there!

Dryness in the feet can cause a variety of symptoms. There is the standard roughness of the skin, which might also flake or peel. This can be accompanied by itchiness, redness, or a rash. In more severe cases, the skin will begin to crack, creating heel fissures. These are most frequent along the heel, and can be especially dangerous to those who have diabetes or weakened immune systems. If these cracks don’t heal, they can worsen with the pressure of walking. This can make it more difficult to walk, but also invite an infection.

Dumping the Drought

If dry skin is a consistent problem, it’s worth taking your problem to a professional. Dr. Gregg Neibauer is equipped to assess your feet and determine any underlying causes of the condition. It can be helpful to have a list of products that might come into contact with your feet, such as lotions or laundry detergents, just in case one of these might be causing a reaction. Knowing your family’s history of foot problems might also provide insight, as might blood or skin tests to rule out problems such as psoriasis and eczema. Following an evaluation, changes can be made and treatments recommended to try and combat the problem.

Sometimes, treatment will involve regular maintenance. Moisturizing your dry feet daily may be recommended. The best time do so is after a bath or shower, when the skin is softer. The lotion should not contain alcohol or any chemical that irritate the skin, which may just make the problem worse.

Other home remedies may be effective, or at the very least relaxing. Make sure to speak with a professional before trying anything like oils or pumice stones, though, as these might also cause issues with people who have certain conditions.

Don’t let cracked, dry skin continue to plague your feet. The staff at Alpine Foot & Ankle Clinic are here to help return your feet to a smooth, comfortable condition. Contact our Missoula office by calling (406) 721-4007 to schedule an appointment and take the first step toward relief.

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