Summer is coming! This is the time of year when our skin is likely to be at its driest, and is on display for all to see! Skincare is important and easily addressed. Read on for our top tips on keeping the skin on your feet in top condition.
Skin is the largest organ of the human body, it covers the entire body, holding everything together, and provides a protective layer from the external environment. In particular, it protects us from all sorts of microbes and infections. But it can only do this if it’s integrity is intact, meaning there are no breaks, cuts, scratches or cracks etc. For most parts of the body, minor breaches of this integrity carry a low risk. Rarely do we get an infection from a cut finger (if looked after properly!)
Feet are different! When there are cracks in the soles of our feet, combined with the mechanical pressure of walking, microbes can be driven into our skin from any surface we walk on, resulting in viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Some of these can be difficult to eradicate.
Dryness is the biggest cause of a breach in our skins integrity! When skin is dry it doesn’t have the protective oily layer which provides a barrier against microbial entry to our skin. Dryness of our skin also leads to a loss of stretch and flexibility necessary around moving structures especially on our feet. If our skin can’t stretch or flex it may crack when under mechanical pressure such as walking. These cracks are often around the heels. They are usually small and unnoticed until it is too late.
Dry skin is less of an issue when we are younger, but as we age, all of us will experience drier skin and our ability to fight infections will reduce. With a little care and attention to the skincare of your feet you can reduce the risk of infection, reduce pain from cracks / fissures and improve the comfort and appearance of your feet.
Footfriend’s top tips for the skincare of your feet.
Don’t wash your feet with soaps or shower gels on a regular basis. Soaps and shower gels act as detergents and will remove the protective oily layer on your skin. All that is needed is a rub down with a flannel at the end of your bath or shower. Don’t worry they won’t smell! If you have filthy feet from being barefoot, then the occasional use of soap or shower gel won’t hurt.
- Wear socks or hosiery when possible. Bare skin does tend to dry out faster especially on feet.
- Use a “foot specific moisturiser”. The skin on your feet will be the driest on your body so you need a moisturiser capable of dealing with this. A body skin or face moisturiser won’t do! We feel that 10% urea based creams as standard or 20% urea based creams for particularly dry skin with cracked heels is the best for feet. In particular the “CCS Foot Care Cream” and “CCS Heel balm” are a favourite with our patients. It is a formulation that feels and smells nice on, is non greasy and most important is hypoallergenic which means anyone can use it, even people with diabetes. It is also available in most major pharmacies, nationwide, so is easy to obtain.
- Little and often! It’s no good using a moisturizer once a week – it needs to be done daily. Typically a small pea sized amount will spread all over one foot top and bottom. (Don’t do between your toes – if it gets too moist there you can get a fungal infection). Remember, whatever cream you use, immediately after applying it there will be a film of this cream on your skin surface so either cream your feet as you get dressed and put some socks on immediately so you don’t leave residue on your carpets or perhaps just as you get into bed at night would be another good time.
- For the best results if you have deep cracks and calloused skin as in the image above you may need to visit a podiatrist for some professional help until your skin is in a better state.
- Remember if you are moisturising your feet – you are moisturising your hands also! So there is no need for a hand cream – just get a foot cream!
If you are still unsure about your skincare needs and want further advice or need some professional help to start you off, please make an appointment at your earliest convenience.