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Family Foot & Ankle

Dealing with Dry Feet

Cincinnati may not have a “dry” season, but feet don’t always get the memo. Everything from dry indoor air to skin conditions to medical conditions and more can parch your lower limbs. Unlike the rest of your body, the skin on your feet has no oil glands, so it has to rely on both sweat and human intervention to stay moisturized.

Although a little mild dry skin every now and then isn’t usually a major concern, seriously dehydrated feet can cause painful scaling, cracking, and even fissuring. This can be especially concerning if you have diabetes, since it provides an opportunity for bacteria to set in and cause an infection. Other common symptoms include redness, itchiness, peeling, and rashes.

Dry Skin on a HeelEnvironmental Causes of Dry Feet

It may be that your problem is caused by environmental factors. Some of the more common ones include low indoor humidity due to heating systems, wearing shoes that don’t allow your feet to breathe properly, and taking excessively hot, frequent showers or baths. (Bathing, counter-intuitively, actually removes moisture from your skin).

The good news is that environmental factors are much easier to correct and prevent. Turn down the heat on the shower. Wear breathable shoes. Get a humidifier for your home.

Medical Causes of Dry Skin

Dry feet can also be caused by an underlying condition. Diabetes is perhaps the most common, as extra sugar in the bloodstream can suck moisture away from other tissues. Thyroid disease is another potential explanation, and there are plenty of skin conditions (athlete’s foot, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis) that can produce similar symptoms. It may also simply be a side effect of aging, as we all lose the ability to retain moisture over time.

At-Home Tips for Staying Moisturized

Home remedies for moisturizing dry feet abound—a quick Internet search will not doubt provide you with many. Homemade foot soaks, petroleum jelly, eucalyptus oil, and many other strategies have been attempted, and many of them do offer some benefit. However, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before attempting to treat any kind of skin condition yourself.

Generally speaking, you want to use a moisturizing oil, ointment, or cream that does not contain any alcohol or other chemicals that can dry out the skin.  Applying after bathing (using a moisturizing soap) is a good strategy. You should also try to stay hydrated throughout the day—drink plenty of water.

Getting the Doctor Involved

If you’re experiencing serious itchiness or cracking, you have diabetes, or home solutions haven’t worked, make a plan to visit Family Foot and Ankle Center in Greater Cincinnati. The more advanced the problem becomes, the more difficult it can be to fix and the more complications can arise.

First we will check for any underlying causes, which may include a physical exam as well as blood or skin tests. If diabetes, a fungal or bacterial infection, or other treatable or manageable medical condition is leading to your dry feet, rest assured we’ll help you fight it.

Most of the time, though, environmental factors are to blame. In those cases, lifestyle changes such as choosing better footwear and using moisturizers regularly can significantly improve or even eliminate your issues. We’ll help you narrow the possibilities and recommend the most beneficial lotions and creams for your situation.

For any skin problems affecting your feet and ankles, trust Cincinnati’s experts. You can set up an appointment at one of our six convenient locations online, or call us at (513) 728-4800 (in Ohio) or (859) 282-1572 (in Kentucky).