You don't need pedicures to have healthy feet, but adding some moisture to dry, cracked heels would be a good start. You probably don't pay much attention to them, but your feet work hard for you, even if you usually neglect them when it comes to daily hygiene. You wash them -- isn't that good enough? It's a start, but it takes more to keep your feet healthy. You don't need to get pedicures, but you do need to think about more than just keeping them clean. Healthy feet aren't dry, callused or cracked, so they need a little care beyond a simple lather. We have five tips to help you make moisturizing your feet part of your daily routine, beginning with how to choose the right cream.
5: The Right Moisturizer: Does It Have to be Foot Cream?
There are a lot of moisturizing options, so do you have to use foot cream to soothe dry, cracked feet? Yes and no. If you want to buy one do-it-all moisturizer and use it on all your dry body parts (including your feet) you'll still be better off than not using any moisturizer at all. However, lotions, balms, creams and serums are often specially made with a specific skin area and type in mind. Eye creams, for example, will have ingredients that won't sting the delicate skin under the eyes. It's similar with foot creams. They tend to be thicker than body lotions, and many contain ingredients that can penetrate thick soles like other moisturizers can't.
4: How to Moisturize Your Feet
Your feet will get the most out of a moisturizer if you use it just after washing them, preferably while they're still a little damp. Wash your feet in warm, not hot, water to avoid additional moisture loss from your skin -- a good tip for your whole body, not just your feet -- and use a moisturizer that's alcohol-free.
Take note: Be sure to keep the spots between your toes dry. Moisture between the toes, whether it's lotion or water left over from your shower, a swim or sweat, can attract bacteria, which increases your risk of developing fungal infections like athlete's foot.
3: Prevent Blisters
If you're a runner or if you spend a lot of time walking or hiking, you have additional foot considerations, such as blister prevention. Blisters can become a problem if there's friction in your shoes (make sure both your socks and shoes fit properly), and the problem can worsen with sweat and heat.
While a powder can help reduce the sweat factor, you'll need a product to prevent blisters. Popular blister-preventing lubricants include petroleum jelly and stick-formatted products such as Body Glide. Apply them to your feet before running (or whatever your activity may be) to help prevent blisters from forming, and note the same lubricant can be used to temporarily ease the pain of a blister before you're able to treat it.
2: Treat Cracked Heels
When feet get dry -- and we mean arid -- the heels can become cracked and may even develop fissures in severe cases. This super-dry skin is a condition known as xerosis. You're also upping your risk of cracked heels if your shoes don't fit properly -- anything that rubs on the heel can cause problems.
Aside from looking unpleasant, cracks and fissures in your heels pose a health concern if you don't treat them. They're an open invitation for bacteria to invade, causing potentially life-threatening infections. Regularly slathering on foot cream can help prevent -- and treat -- cracked heels.
1: Exfoliant and Moisturizer: Dynamic Duo
After -- or during -- your shower, rub the bottoms of your feet and heels with a pumice stone to remove dead skin and patchy spots, and follow up with a thick moisturizer. Don't have a pumice stone? Sandpaper will do the trick. A good exfoliation a few times a week -- don't overdo it -- can lessen the need for thick creams to heal calluses, dry heels and soles.
Sound like a lot of effort just for feet? Skip the pumice stone and pick up a foot cream that lists salicylic acid, lactic acid or urea in its ingredients -- these are all known to make skin smoother and are tough enough to handle even the thickest spots on feet in just one step.
Lots More Information
- Top 5 Natural Exfoliants
- Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Daily Body Cleanser
- Top 5 Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin
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- American Diabetes Association. "Living With Diabetes: Foot Complications." 2010. (Dec. 23, 2010)http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications.html
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- Pham, Hau Trung et al. "A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Double-Blind Study of a Moisturizer for Xerosis of the Feet in Patients with Diabetes." Ostomy Wound Management. 2010. (Dec. 23, 2010)http://www.o-wm.com/article/460?mobify=0
- Smith, Walter P. "Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. September 1996. (Dec. 23, 2010)http://www.eblue.org/article/S0190-9622(96)90602-7/abstract
- Sports Injury Clinic. "Blisters - Treatment and Prevention." 2010. (Dec. 23, 2010) http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/cybertherapist/front/foot/blisters.htm
- The Walking Site. "How to Prevent Chafing and Blisters." (Dec. 23, 2010) http://www.thewalkingsite.com/blisters.html
- Waldrop, Sheridan. "Diabetic Food Care." Advance for Nurses. 2010. (Dec. 23, 2010) http://nursing.advanceweb.com/article/diabetic-foot-care-html.aspx