To Ignore Dry Skin, or to Treat It

For even the best test-takers, some questions are really hard:

  • What’s the meaning of life? (The guru at the top of the mountain might have the answer, but who has time to climb a mountain and ask him in this day and age?)
  • Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp? (They don’t make ‘em like that anymore!)
  • If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does a hipster buy its album? (Only if it’s on vinyl?)
  • If there is a “National Bundt Pan Day” (11/15), “National Toothache Day” (2/9), and “National Thread the Needle Day” (7/25), why isn’t there a “National Foot Massage Day?” (Actually, we kind of have an answer for this, so make sure you read all the way to the end.)

Some questions, however, aren’t quite as challenging. For example, “To ignore dry skin or treat dry skin”. The answer is obvious—treat your dry skin! (And especially if you have diabetes!)A foot massage

When one considers the wide range of medical issues an individual can sustain—even if we just focus on the lower limbs—dry skin and cracked heels might not seem particularly important.

That simply isn’t the case, however! Excessive dryness can cause discomfort and pain, increase infection risk, and even lead to severe medical complications when left untreated (particularly for those who have diabetes). Skin is the largest human organ. It is our armor that protects us from microscopic intruders.

It is important to keep in mind that dry skin might be a symptom of another medical issue, like diabetes, thyroid disease, or athlete’s foot.

Not everyone has exactly the same amount of risk for developing excessively dry feet and heels. For example, our skin has diminished ability to stretch as we age – which leads to crow’s feet, character lines and skin weakness and failure. This means older adults will have more problems than young whippersnappers!

Additionally, abnormal gait—like those caused by structural issues, and carrying excess weight places additional pressure on feet. This is the same effect as trying to stretch a 4-ft. trampoline cover to fit a 6-ft. trampoline. The skin’s ability to protect, control temperature, and produce moisturizing oil are all diminished.

Individuals who have deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals are more prone to drier skin.

Of course, diabetes also increases the risk for dry skin on feet. This stems from interruption of the body’s ability to moisturize itself attributed to damage of the nerves responsible for controlling the sweat glands in the feet. (Remember, elevated sugar levels in the blood stream damages nerve tissue!)

In the case of diabetes, dry skin is especially concerning. Sure, cracks and fissures increase the risk of infection (which is bad enough on its own), but skin breakdown from calluses can lead to dangerous diabetic foot ulcers!

No matter if you have existing condition like diabetes or not, it’s a smart idea to use simple prevention measures to keep you safe from harm.

Sensible prevention steps include:

  • Limit the time and temperatures of your baths or showers. Long, hot showers or soaks strips the moisture from your body.
  • Wear shoes and socks that wick moisture and allow your feet to breathe. We’ve discussed specific socks that our office favors on the blog before, but it is worth mentioning again that moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes go a long way toward keeping your feet properly moisturized. (Not too much, not too little!)
  • Moisturize after bathing or showering. With regards to moisturizers, choose products made from natural fats, instead of petroleum ingredients. Urea cream and shea butter lotions are kinds we strongly recommend. These kinds of moisturizers are long-lasting, unlike the petroleum-based ones you should apply every couple of hours.

To accompany that last dry skin prevention measure, let’s go back to the earlier question about why there isn’t a “National Foot Massage Day.”

Since no one else has formally staked a claim to this noble cause, we’re going to start! Here is our official proclamation:

“Whereas your feet are incredibly hardworking and deserve some extra care and attention, we declare every third Friday of the month to henceforth be known as ‘National Foot Massage Day (of the Month).’ On this day, you and a spouse, loved one, or friend (of your choosing) shall take turns giving each other a foot massage.

When it is your turn to receive the massage, you are hereby instructed to relax, take your mind off of any stressful matters, and just enjoy the 5-10 minutes of pure bliss.

Upon your turn to give the massage, you are hereby instructed to use an appropriate moisturizer, really work the thumbs, and look over your spouse/loved one/friend’s feet to make sure there are no abnormal spots or discolorations. Performing an inspection can potentially catch problems that could become bigger problems over time. Giving a quality foot massage (and inspection) is a serious responsibility, but we know you have it in you to perform a first-class job.”

If you have any questions about caring for your feet, National Foot Massage Day (of the Month), or need to schedule an appointment, simply give us a call at (317) 545-0505.
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