Solutions to Dry and Cracked Feet
The winter air can bring a lot of discomfort to people in the form of dry skin, chapped lips and hands, and dry, cracked feet. Of course these conditions are not unique to just the winter season, they can occur any time of year. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent and treat dry skin conditions.
Considering the feet and what they must put up with, literally, all day long, it’s no wonder that they tend to get dry, cracked, and callused. The feet take quite a beating considering how much a person uses them in a day. Think about what you typically do in a 24 hour period. Sure you use your muscles and brain all day, but who carries those muscles and brain around? Ouch. Now you are feeling guilty for neglecting those tootsies aren’t you?
Treat Your Dry and Cracked Feet
Don’t worry. It’s never too late to pamper your feet. The first step in treating dry, cracked feet is to soak them. Get a bowl or fill the tub with a few inches of warm water. Adding some Epsom salt won’t hurt but isn’t necessary. Let your feet soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
After they have soaked, slough off the callused skin with a pumice stone. Concentrate on the heel as it tends to be the most dry. Be thorough but use a gentle hand. Using too much force can cause the skin to crack and bleed. Some people prefer to use a metal file, but using one runs a higher risk of cutting the skin which can lead to an infection.
After you have exfoliated and sloughed off the calluses, massage petroleum jelly over the entire foot. Be liberal when applying it. You simply can not use too much. Next, cover your feet with cotton socks. The cotton allows the foot to breathe and will keep the petroleum jelly from getting everywhere. The best time to do this is before bed. When you wake up the next morning, your feet will be supple and soft again. Do this routine twice a week.
Prevent Dry and Cracked Feet
To prevent calluses and dryness, use an exfoliating scrub on your feet each time you shower. A good scrub contains natural ingredients that exfoliate like apricot seed, sand, or oatmeal. Scrubs that contain alpha hydroxy acid are also effective exfoliates.
After each bath or shower, be sure to slather on petroleum jelly or another hydrating lotion on the feet. Wearing cotton socks to lock in the moisture will ensure they stay hydrated for a longer period of time. Avoid using oils on the skin as they will not penetrate past the first layer and can be very messy.
Other things you can do to prevent dry and cracked feet is to wear proper fitting shoes. Shoes that are too large or too small not only put you at risk for injury but also add to friction on the foot. The rubbing of the material against the heel and arch can dry out the foot and cause it to crack.
Don’t just rely on buying shoes in your size. Try them on and walk around for a few minutes. Good-fitting shoes should not feel tight and should not slip off when you walk. The best time to try on shoes is in the evening when feet are at their largest. Opt for shoes that allow for air to circulate in and out of the shoe.
If you have the type of job where you have to stand for long periods of time, there are things you can do to enhance circulation to the feet. Improving blood flow to your feet can prevent the skin from drying. Alternate resting a foot on a bench or box in front of you. Raise your foot off of the ground and rotate it at the ankle a few times each hour. Take advantage of each opportunity you get to sit down. If possible, elevate the feet when sitting.
The amount of water you consume will also affect the moisture level of your skin not just in your feet but in your entire body. Aim for six to eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day. You can count coffee and tea as a serving of water. Speaking of coffee, did you know coffee grounds are another natural exfoliate? Instead of tossing out the coffee grounds from your machine each morning, take them in the shower with you and massage your feet with them. The grounds will also help keep your drain clear.
Do You Have Athlete’s Foot?
If you still suffer from dry or cracked feet after soaking and treating them for a month, you may have a more complex condition such as athlete’s foot. There are over-the-counter ointments and sprays that can help control the growth of fungus on the foot. A dermatologist can also prescribe anti-fungal medication.
To avoid contracting athlete’s foot, never use a public shower without wearing sandals or water shoes. Be sure to wear athletic shoes that have mesh that allows the air to circulate. Sprinkling cornstarch in the shoe before wearing it will also help control the perspiration of your foot.
Being kind to your feet is a gift that will keep on giving. When your feet are in good condition, you will feel better and be able to perform at your maximum. Of course there is always the added bonus that your feet will look great in sandals!