Your foot problems may come from a variety of causes and risk factors.
The stratum corneum is the outermost layer of the epidermis, the thin, outer layer of the skin that is visible to the eye and works to provide protection for the body. This part of the skin does not contain any blood vessels and is, therefore, dependent on the dermis, which is the layer of the skin located directly underneath the epidermis, to provide access to nutrients and dispose of waste.
Sometimes referred to as the horny layer of the skin, the stratum corneum is composed mainly of keratin—the protein comprising human hair and nails, as well as structures such as horns, hooves, and claws of animals—and lipids (fats)1 .
As such, the stratum corneum primarily functions as a barrier between the deeper layers of skin and the outside environment, preventing toxins and bacteria from entering the body. It also helps to keep moisture from evaporating into the atmosphere.
The stratum corneum was previously thought to be basically inert. Since then, scientists have discovered that in fact, the stratum corneum has a complex structure and is in a constant state of change.
Environmental Factors that can affect heals
Your dry, cracked feet may be due to environmental factors:
- Physical stress: The environment inside a shoe can get very hot—sometimes well over 50 degrees. Heat and humidity changes result in water loss from the skin and ultimately result in thickening of the top layer of skin.2
- Walking Barefoot: Being shoeless in summer can further stress the skin on the bottom of your feet. Concrete, sand and pavers draw moisture from the feet very quickly.
- Skin cleansers: Certain soaps can strip protective oils from the skin or leave irritating residues that contribute to dry skin.
- Cold weather: Dry skin often worsens in the winter months, mostly due to indoor heating and low humidity.
Skin conditions that result in dry, thickened skin on the foot include:
- Athlete's foot (tinea pedis)
- Skin rashes caused by allergy or irritants
- Leg vein problems (called venous stasis)
In children, eczema (atopic dermatitis ) is common cause of dry, scaly skin and accentuated skin lines on a child's feet.
Systemic Medical Conditions
Dietary deficiency of vitamin A or certain essential fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), can also be an underlying cause. Conditions that cause digestive malabsorption, such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease, may lead to vitamin and essential fatty acid deficiencies.
Hormonal and metabolic changes over time decrease skin cell turnover, resulting in a thickening of the skin's outermost layer, known as the stratum corneum.5 Also, as we age, the protective fat pad on the sole of the foot gets thinner. Loss of this cushioning in the heel and ball of the foot can increase skin stress, leading to cracked, callused skin.
For more information consider the information available at the Australian Podiatry association at this excellent article How Aging Affects Your Feet
If your feet have calluses, cracked skin, wounds, rashes, or dry skin that does not improve with creams or lotions, an evaluation by a podiatrist is a good place to start.
A podiatrist can identify and treat secondary causes of dry skin, such as athlete's foot or eczema.
In addition, corns and calluses can be safely removed by your podiatrist, which is a great way to improve the appearance of your feet and prevent future problems, such as pain and skin wounds. Also, severely dry skin may require prescription-strength creams.
If your feet are not in need of medical attention from a GP or Podiatrist you may find relief from these simple home remedies.
To soothe and prevent dry, cracked skin on your feet, consider using these:
- Moisturising cream: Use a daily moisturising cream preferably one containing ingredient’s that promote excellent hydration and moisturisation. Huxter’s range of Body lotions contain Glyceryl Stearate which offers a rich source of hydration and moisturisation.
- Hypoallergenic products: If you are prone to allergies or skin sensitivities, use skin products that are labelled as hypoallergenic or formulated for sensitive skin. Huxters Goats Milk soap has been formulated for babies and those with eczema and sensitive skin.
- Foot Bath: A good old foot soak will help soften the skin, promote circulation and preparing the skin for a pumice scrub to remove dead skin cells. This routine is very effective at keeping calluses from building up on the soles. For dry skin on the tops of the feet and on the legs, try a loofah sponge or exfoliating skin product. Huxters range of 120gram Bath Soaks have been developed for just such an application. Made in Australia using Murray River Salt and Epsom Salts our soaks are the perfect addition to your foot bath at the end of a long day.
Importance of foot care
Your feet do a lot of work. Whether walking around, standing for long stretches of time, or exercising, your feet are generally putting in long hours. There are many ways to soothe sore, tired feet at home. Generally, a combination of efforts will help rejuvenate your feet.
These methods may relieve your sore feet over time. Trying more than one of these recommendations may help ease your foot pain faster than just doing one at a time.
Do some stretches
You can also try some stretching exercises to help your sore feet. You can target one area of your foot like your toes or heel, or you can engage in several stretches to target your entire foot. These exercises can prevent cramping and promote flexibility:
Practice strengthening exercises
Keeping your feet flexible and strong are keys to avoiding foot pain. Walking regularly for exercise is the best way to keep your feet limber and healthy. Avoid engaging in a lifestyle that is too sedentary. A pedometer may be a way to make sure you’re walking enough and keeping your feet active.
Products like foot rollers and a hard balls like a lacrosse or golf ball are also great to roll over while relaxing on the sofa.
Switch your shoes
Your shoes could be the culprit for your foot pain. Wearing shoes beyond their life span, the wrong style of shoe, or an incorrect shoe size can impact the health of your feet.
Keep in mind:
- Your sneakers may wear out after 400 or 500 kms and no longer provide the support you need.
The team at Huxter hope you find these tips and home remedies helpful.