Your skin is vital to protect your body from external elements. It’s flexible, tough and waterproof, and keeps out dangerous bacteria. It’s your largest organ so you need to keep it in good shape.
A variety of factors can affect the condition of your skin and lead to dryness. This isn’t a problem on its own, but if left untreated it leads to cracking and infection. Dry skin can occur throughout the body but your feet are particularly vulnerable.
What Are the Symptoms?
Cracked, flaky or peeling skin are all signs that something is amiss. Skin rashes and itchiness are common as well. The symptoms may be quite minor at first but cracks and rashes are open wounds that compromise your protective skin barrier – and this opens the way for harmful bacteria.
Day-to-Day Causes of Dry Skin
Your feet support your entire body weight and are constantly subjected to pressure and friction. Also they can become hot inside their shoes – all of which leads to water loss and dryness.
Indoor heating reduces humidity and this leads to dryness, which may also affect the pH balance of the skin. This damages the ability of the skin to combat infection.
If your shower gel or soap is too harsh it will strip your skin of essential protective oils. This dries out your skin considerably, so always use a gentle, natural product.
Hormonal changes in later life lead to thinner skin, reduced elasticity and loss of the fatty cushions that support our feet. This also causes skin to become dry, flaky or callused.
Medical Conditions and Skin Problems
Dry skin can be a feature of several medical conditions, some of which are serious so it’s wise not to ignore new outbreaks.
High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes cause greater fluid loss than normal, which leads to dry skin. Circulation problems and reduced nerve sensitivity are also common, so a painless skin condition may be an indication of something more serious. Untreated, this can result in foot ulcers and even amputation in extreme cases.
This autoimmune disorder can look like dry skin but it causes skin cells to multiply much faster than normal. Rather than shedding regularly as normal skin cells do, they build up on the skin, which creates rashes and lesions. These are itchy, sore and unsightly.
Skin (together with nails and hair) is particularly sensitive to imbalances of the thyroid hormone. Dry, scaly, flaky skin on the feet may indicate an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism). This can lead to a host of issues, for example, gastrointestinal problems, fertility concerns or mental health issues.
This fungal skin infection often starts between the toes or on dry skin patches around the heels. It’s extremely itchy and can be very painful. The skin blisters and cracks, and the infection easily spreads as it’s highly contagious; toenails are particularly vulnerable to fungal infections so don’t ignore the warning signs.
General Foot Care
We should all moisturise regularly, wear well-fitting, breathable footwear, use gentle washing products, cut our toenails carefully, and take regular exercise for good circulation. These simple steps will keep your feet fit and healthy and reduce or even eliminate dry skin.
However, even everyday care must be done correctly, and, of course, for specific ailments, you should always a professional before doing anything.
Ask a Podiatrist
Not sure what’s right for you? Feet By Pody is here to help with all your foot care concerns, from general maintenance to specific issues.
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