Foot Notes Blog


February 2014

6 more weeks of cracked dry skin

Feb 2, 2014 4:52 PM
Peter Guy

Today is Groundhog Day in both Canada and the USA. The groundhog Wiarton Willie came out of his burrow and saw his shadow. Unfortunately, for us it means 6 more weeks of winter weather. 

Winter weather can be difficult on our skin. The humidity inside our homes can be very dry especially if a humidifier is not installed on a furnace. You can see the effects low humidity on wood furniture.  Skin needs to be hydrated or moisturized to maintain its ability to withstand stretching or tension.

Cracked dry skin especially on our feet can mean trouble.  Some people suffer every winter with dry cracked heels or cracks on the bottom of their feet. As the skin gets drier it cannot withstand any type tension or pulling apart of the skin. This happens very easily on our heels. With every foot step we take, the skin at the edges of our heel will stretch.  If our skin is adequately hydrated this skin stretching is not a problem.  Dry skin is easier to stretch and tear causing deep cracks in the heels.  As the body tries to repair the crack, thick callus will accumulate on either side of the crack.  The deep crack in the skin can be painful because the nerve endings deep in the skin are aggravated.

 Keeping your skin moisturized if you are diabetic is a must.  If the skin becomes too dry on the foot it can change the balance of bacteria on the surface of the skin. There are many types of good bacteria that live on the skin.  The good bacteria prevent the bad bacteria form causing skin infections.  If the skin becomes too dry it will upset the balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria on the skin. Therefore dry skin can increase the risk for skin infections in the feet of diabetics.

You can prevent dry skin by regularly using an emollient or skin moisturizer.  I recommend a urea-based skin moisturizers. Urea as a humectant.  Humectants attract and retain moisture nearby by drawing the water vapor into and/or beneath the skin surface.   I recommend using a urea based emollient at least once per day applied after a bath or shower.  Urea based emollients can cause stinging when applied to the skin which is why applying after a shower or bath is recommended.  Some examples of a urea based emollients are Dermal Therapy (25% urea), Uremol 20 (20% urea) and Urisec 22 (22% urea). If the cracked skin on your feet is not healed by using the recommended emollients you should seek treatment from your local chiropodist/podiatrist.

Be good to your feet moisturize your skin daily during the winter.



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