Dry skin, known as xeroderma, is a very common condition that isn’t usually caused by a disease, illness, or disability. You may experience dry skin because you live in a dry environment, you may enjoy swimming in chlorinated pools, you don’t drink enough water and are dehydrated, or you walk around barefoot. Treating dry skin on your feet

Many people have a tendency to develop dry skin on their feet. Unlike the skin on the rest of your body, which is kept hydrated by oil glands, the skin on your feet relies on sweat glands, so your feet can easily become dry. Because dry skin can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful if it’s itchy or cracking, it’s important to see an Austin podiatrist to discuss treatment options.

Signs Your Feet Are Too Dry

If you notice any of the following symptoms, your feet may need more moisture:

  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Cracks in the skin
  • Irritation
  • Inflammation
  • Rough skin
  • Flaky skin
  • Peeling
  • Rash

Ways to Hydrate Your Feet

If you have noticed symptoms of dry skin, the podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists recommend that you take immediate action to address the problem before it gets worse. We know there are some simple changes you can make that may affect the quality of your skin, including the following:

Be Sure to Hydrate

Drink plenty of water to ensure your whole body, including your skin, has adequate hydration. Stay away from saunas and steam baths, which can reduce your body’s level of hydration. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine.

Choose the Right Soaps

Always choose a soap that is:

  • Unscented
  • Mild
  • Moisturizing

Apply Skincare Moisturizers

Therapeutic oils, creams, and ointments can help restore moisture to the feet. A doctor can offer recommendations for products that will meet your specific needs, and these should be applied within five minutes of bathing and any time you notice that your skin feels dry.

Keep Your Hands Off

Do not rub or scratch the areas that feel dry. Cold compresses or ice packs applied for a few minutes may help to alleviate itching.

Manage Your Health Conditions

It may be wise to have your primary care doctor explore possible medical causes for your dry skin. If you already know you have a health condition such as diabetes that can increase your risk of dry skin on your feet, regularly inspecting your feet for problems and managing your diabetes may make it easier to keep your feet in good shape.

Wear the Right Shoes

Select socks and shoes that allow your feet to breathe. Avoid shoes that have open heels, such as flip flops and slingbacks, as well as shoes that are worn out or do not fit properly.

Keep Room Air Moist

Try to limit how much you are running the heater in your home and office, or run a humidifier to replace the moisture that the heater removes from the air during the cold months.

Keep Your Feet Dry

Be sure to thoroughly pat (not rub) your feet dry any time you bathe, shower, swim, or otherwise expose your feet to water. Pay particular attention to the heels and soles of the feet.

Home Remedies

If you are considering using a home remedy to help your dry feet, discuss this with a podiatrist first to ensure that there is no reason why the treatment you are considering would be a poor decision. If your doctor okays home remedies, you might try the following:

  • Soak your feet in lemon juice for ten minutes to make it easier to remove dead skin. Use a loofah or scrub brush to remove dead skin after soaking. Do not use this method if you have any cuts or trauma to your feet.
  • Combine a small amount of olive oil with lemon or lavender oil to create a cream you can apply to cracked heels. Shake the ingredients to mix before each use, as the contents will separate.
  • Apply vegetable oil to your feet after baths, especially in areas that are cracked. Cover with thick socks overnight.
  • Add a teaspoon of Vaseline to the juice from a whole lemon. After washing and drying your feet, apply the entire batch to your feet just before bed. Lock in the moisture and protect your sheets with cotton or wool socks. Exfoliate your skin in the morning with a loofah or scrub brush.
  • Apply a liquid bandage over your feet during the day to create a protective barrier, reduce pain, and keep germs out.

Why You Should Keep Your Feet Moisturized

It may be tempting to dismiss dry skin on your feet as merely a cosmetic issue and ignore the problem. But this can make the problem worse and more difficult to manage long term. This can lead to the following:

  • Deep, painful cracks in the skin
  • Skin that allows in bacteria and fungus
  • Increased risk of athlete’s foot and fungal nail infection
  • Heightened risk of developing foot ulcers
  • Skin conditions such as psoriasis or dermatitis
  • Difficulty walking
  • Decreased ability to spend time on your feet
  • Itchiness and burning
  • Increased cost of treatment

Conditions That Can Create Dry Skin on the Feet

Several different factors can contribute to dry, cracked skin on the feet. Some of these include:

  • Diabetes
  • Athlete's foot
  • A skin condition (eczema, psoriasis)
  • Thyroid disease
  • Advanced age
  • Excessively hot or lengthy showers and baths
  • Soaps that do not moisturize
  • Cold weather
  • Low humidity due to running a heating system
  • Long periods of sun exposure
  • Failing to properly moisturize the feet on a regular basis

How an Austin Podiatrist Can Help

Although some people might be inclined to reach out to a dermatologist for issues with the skin on their feet, our central Texas podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists are trained to handle all things related to the care of feet, including conditions that can contribute to or result from dry skin. If you seek treatment from a podiatrist, they may:

  • Perform a physical examination of your feet
  • Discuss your symptoms
  • Complete blood and skin tests to rule out conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema
  • Ask about your medical history and family medical history
  • Offer treatment recommendations customized to your specific needs

When to See a Podiatrist

There are some times when it is necessary to see a doctor for dry feet, including:

  • If your feet are not improving after you have tried various home remedies
  • If you are elderly
  • If the cracks in your skin are severe
  • If you have diabetes, poor circulation, an autoimmune disorder, or another medical condition that makes it more difficult for your foot injuries to heal
Craig Thomajan
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Austin Podiatrist