Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Moisturize Those Winter Feet
Brrrrrrrrrr. It’s winter time in the Southeastern Pennsylvania area. The harshness of the cold temperatures and gusty winds that occur during December, January, February, and even part of March wreck havoc on the body. The hands and feet are particularly vulnerable as the extremities are the farthest parts of the body from the heart. We protect our body from the cold by wearing warmer and layered clothing. Gloves, hats, and scarves protect the most exposed parts and are important elements for protection, especially as we get older. Something we commonly overlook is moisturizing our hands and feet, especially our fingertips and heels. The back of the heel is especially vulnerable to scaling and cracking. A crack through the skin is called a fissure and can result in a foot infection as there now is a portal of entry for bacteria to enter the body and grow. Diabetics and vascular compromised people are most at risk.
Treatment-Prevention and maintenance of the integrity of the skin surface is done through regular use of skin moisturizing agents. There are many products on the market as many of them do an adequate job. Some leave a greasy film and some are tacky, so choose one that you are comfortable with. I prefer to recommend ones that leave a smooth finish and will penetrate easily without a large amount used. It doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as it is applied at least once and preferably twice per day, especially in the winter. A pumice stone or callus scraper can be utilized prior to moisturizing, but never use any sharp instruments like scissors or razor blades. Free edges of skin should not be pulled. If there are many layers that need to be treated, seek a podiatrist’s help and not a pedicure salon. This is a serious condition and should only be performed by a well-trained professional.
By Bradford J. Jacobs, DPM