Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Home Remedies for Dry, Cracked Feet

Living in West Michigan, we are accustomed to the harsh, cold winters with the dry air and gray skies. Along with bundling up just to trek to the mailbox and shopping for the holidays in a full snow suit, there is the inevitability of dry, hard, cracked skin on our feet.  The store shelves are littered with lotions and potions promising relief, but they are not all what they promise to be. The average body lotion is usually not sufficient for feet, as the skin on the bottom of the feet is much thicker than other areas of the body. 

During the winter months, as we age, and in certain climates – our skin loses its ability to retain moisture. The best way to give that moisture back is to start with a good soak.  This can mean a warm shower or bath, or resting your feet in a bowl of warm water. Don’t oversoak as it can have the opposite effect, but once or twice a week should suffice. Be sure the water is not too hot, especially if you have decreased sensation in your feet. This is a common finding in diabetic patients, and it is possible to sustain burns if the water is too hot and you don't know it. 

At the end of a warm shower, use a pumice stone to gently exfoliate away the top layers of dry skin on your heels and ball of the foot. This should only be done when the feet are warm and have “soaked” in water for several minutes.  Don’t apply too much pressure – just use a gentle circular motion to buff away the dead skin.  You don’t want to exfoliate in this manner more than once or twice a week.

Once you’ve dried your feet you’ll want to immediately moisturize them.  There are a variety of options but these are a few of our favorites:
1) Creams containing urea usually work very well for dry, cracking skin. They tend to lock in moisture better and soften calloused skin. Holland Foot and Ankle sells a cream called Heel Balm, which contains urea. There is also over the counter Gold Bond for Diabetics, which contains a small amount of urea as well.
2) Coconut Oil is a great natural moisturizer and may spread easier than the olive oil concoction with a bit of more appetizing scent. Again, use cotton socks overnight to keep the moisture on your feet and give it time to penetrate.
3) Aquafor is a product made by Eucerin that has a similar appearance and consistency to Vaseline. After you have soaked, exfoliated and moisturized – spreading a layer of Aquafor over your foot (before you put on the cotton socks) is a great way to lock in the moisturizer and the water in your skin.

4) Mix a half cup of organic olive oil with some lavender oil and shake until it becomes thick.  Apply to your feet and then wear cotton socks overnight.

Using a good moisturizer twice every day will keep your skin from becoming overly dry and cracking. Using the other methods once a week will help you through the winter months and keep your feet feeling fresh for all those holiday parties at other people’s homes where you have to take your shoes off! 

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