If you have lived in Arizona for any significant length of time, we certainly don’t have to tell you that the summer climate can be harsh on your skin. Yet while many of us take measures to protect our bodies, the feet often tend to be overlooked.
Part of this might be due to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. We may simply not look at the effects of sun and heat on our feet that often, compared to what we readily see on our arms and faces and when we look in the mirror.
We might also not tend to think of our feet as being vulnerable to the ill effects of a hot climate, as they are often protected in socks and shoes. However, while other areas might be more vulnerable to the sun, that doesn’t mean feet are invincible.
Sunburns are not the only weather-related danger to your feet; dryness is a condition that they are particularly vulnerable to as well. Dry, cracking skin is not only unsightly, but can lead to pain and infection, too.
Ultimately, it pays to take some simple steps to guard your feet against the dangers of summer sun and heat. Here are a few tips that are sure to help, but never hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or a problem has arisen that needs a closer look or treatment.
Use Sunscreen on Your Feet
Let’s begin with the basics. Even if you don’t suspect your feet will receive as much sun as the rest of you, UV rays can still do plenty of harm to them.
If you plan to go outside in bare feet, sandals, or open-toed shoes, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet as part of your usual routine. It’s also a good general rule to apply any sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you leave the house, giving it time to reach full effectiveness by the time you’re out in the sun.
Moisturize Your Feet Regularly
Your feet are among the most vulnerable areas of your body for dry skin.
Why is that? Skin has oil glands (i.e. sebaceous glands) that help keep moisture in. Feet do not have as many of these glands as other areas. Instead, they have a higher population of sweat glands (i.e. eccrine glands).
In other words, your feet produce more moisture through sweat, but do not have as much oil to help keep it there. In dry air, that moisture can be quickly taken away, making your feet dry out faster.
Moisturizing your feet can help replace much of that lost liquid. You do not need to use anything especially fancy if you do not wish to. Look for ingredients such as salicylic acid, lactic acid, and urea. All of these work well for dry skin. Additional “higher end” ingredients such as beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter can also be helpful, but may not be necessary.
The best time to moisturize your feet is right after a shower, after patting your feet dry. Your skin is most receptive to moisture at this time. Gently rub the moisturizer into your skin, but do not let any lotion accumulate between your toes. Too much moisture in this area can be harmful to the skin, and can be especially dangerous for diabetic patients.
Developing a moisturizing habit outside of the shower can be helpful, but so can your habits on the inside.
Avoid Drying Out Your Skin in the Shower
It may sound counter-intuitive that standing in cascading water can actually cause your skin to dry out, but hot showers actually draw moisture out of the skin – and especially your feet.
A shower should not last more than 5 or 10 minutes, and the cooler the water, the better. Who really wants steam after a long, hot day, anyway? Cooler showers can help boost your immunity as well.
Additionally, use mild soaps and cleansers on your feet. Harsher soaps can be irritating to the skin, which can lead to further dryness and more negative consequences when feet are already dried out.
Humidify Your Home
If you spend much of your time at home, having a non-arid environment can be very helpful to your feet.
If you do use a humidifier, use distilled water and ensure the tank and unit are cleaned regularly. This helps prevent the buildup of minerals and organisms that can be dispersed into the air. If you already have an older humidifier that hasn’t been cleaned, it may be better to purchase a new one instead.
Get Help for Dry and Cracked Feet
If your feet are already dried out and painfully cracked, and measures such as those above have not yielded much improvement, it’s time to see us for professional care. We can get to the root of your skin condition and recommend the best steps and treatments to restore your feet.
Schedule an appointment at our office in Surprise by calling (623) 584-5556. If you prefer to reach out to us electronically, simply fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will respond to you during our standard office hours.