It’s hard to associate the word winter with Houston when temps in February can already reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it is normally the month with the least amount of rainfall, and dry skin can still be a problem for your feet—especially if you have diabetes, numbness associated with peripheral neuropathy, or other conditions that can lead to complications when deep cracks and fissures allow germs to penetrate the skin.
More things than weather can lead to dry feet, too. For example, really hot showers and soaps can sap the moisture from your skin. So too can long periods in the sun and open air as we wear sandals and flip flops to cool us down. Besides these, medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease, eczema or psoriasis can lead to dry, flakey skin as well.
Unlike the rest of your body, your feet do not have oil glands to keep the skin moist, using countless sweat glands instead. You can help them along by applying the oil yourself with a quality, lubricating lotion or even plain mineral oil.
You can avoid most dry skin problems at home with the following foot care routine:
- Wash feet each day, using warm water and a mild or moisturizing soap
- Use a loofah or soft foot brush to gently abrade away dead skin cells, then rinse well
- Pat—don’t rub—them dry, not forgetting between the toes
- Follow with an emollient: vegetable oil or petroleum jelly mixed with a little lemon juice works well, or find one in the store with mostly natural ingredients (not alcohol, which dries your skin)
- If you do this at night before bed, cover with socks to let the lotion be absorbed all night
- Drink enough fluids to stay hydrated, but avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can make your feet dry and itchy, and definitely avoid sugar, which has far-reaching negative effects on multiple systems in your body, including skin.
- Don’t rub or scratch your feet, which can weaken the skin