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Dry Skin (Anhidrosis)

Anhidrosis is the medical term for having dry and often flaky skin on the feet, which may make you vulnerable to cracked heels and other problems.

While our feet do contain over 250,000 sweat glands, it is often a surprise to learn that our feet do not have any oil glands - which can make them more prone to becoming dry, especially with the cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, having dry skin can also cause other problems, including that the sensation around our feet can decrease (which can be a significant problem if we have diabetes or other problems that affect our ability to see what’s happening around our feet). We also become more prone to developing thickened skin (callus) and cracked heels, which can pose health risks if the cracks become so deep that they accidentally crack open the healthy skin beneath, leading to potential pain, bleeding and increasing the risk of infection.

Signs of dry skin on the feet include:

  • White, flaky-looking skin present on the bottom of the feet and the sides of the feet, and may be particularly prominent at the heels
  • A rough or a scaly foot texture
  • Redness or itchiness
  • A feeling of tightness or discomfort in the feet, especially after prolonged periods of dryness
  • Cracks or fissures that may be painful and may even bleed in some instances
  • The formation of calluses (areas of thickened and hardened skin) 
  • Increased susceptibility to infections as dry skin can compromise the skin's natural barrier, making it more prone to bacterial or fungal infections such as Athlete's foot

What Causes Dry Skin On The Feet?

Dry skin on the feet is surprisingly common, with many people experiencing it at some point in their lives. It can be caused by various factors, with some common causes including:

  • Taking very hot baths or showers, which can have a dehydrating effect on the feet
  • Wearing open-backed shoes for prolonged periods
  • Being exposed to cold temperatures and dry air, which can deplete moisture from the feet
  • Certain skin products - such as overusing harsh detergents or chemical-containing foot products can lead to dryness by stripping the feet of its natural moisture
  • Genetics - unfortunately, some people may be more prone to developing dry skin due to their genetic factors
  • The ageing process can also lead to dryness, as ageing can bring with it thinner skin, reduced elasticity and the loss of the fatty cushions that support our feet
  • Nerve damage such as from diabetes
  • Having other medical conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, Athlete's foot and even unmanaged hypothyroidism
  • Certain medications can also make us more vulnerable to dry skin

Home Remedies For Dry Skin On The Feet

For many people with mild skin dryness, they are able to successfully manage their dry skin and restore their skin’s moisture by making one important change in their daily routine: applying an emollient or moisturising cream to the feet every night before bed. While there are several creams we can recommend, the real “trick” is consistency - remembering to do it every evening to help support your skin’s moisture and protection. Products you can try include:

Additionally, we recommend taking care of your feet by avoiding excessively hot (and frequent) showers and baths, wearing good supportive footwear, keeping your feet warm and protected in the cooler temperatures, and avoiding harsh skin products and chemicals - particularly if you were using them prior to noticing your skin becoming dryer.

How To Treat Dry Skin (Anhidrosis)

Here at Matt Raden Podiatry, our trusted and experienced podiatrists listen to the concerns, goals and needs of our patients with dry skin on their feet, and utilise a range of evidence-based treatment methods to help you get the best outcome - to keep your feet feeling supple and moist, while avoiding the potential complications like cracks and fissures. 

Treating anhidrosis with us starts with understanding the likely causes of your skin’s dryness - and seeing if there are any other factors at play, such as having an Athlete’s foot fungal infection alongside your skin dryness, which will require a different treatment route to address the fungus in order to get rid of the white, dry patches and restore your skin to its supple state.

Next, we’ll address any foot concerns related to your dry skin that have arisen, including:

  • Corns - corns are small, circular areas of hard, dead skin that develop over points of excess pressure. We are able to remove corns safely and effectively during your appointment.
  • Callus - a callus is an area of thickened skin that is often found on the bottom of the foot, most often beneath the heels, the ball of the foot or around the toes. We use a fine scalpel to painlessly and safely remove areas of excess callus on your feet, giving you a more neutral ‘base’ to start managing your dry skin from.
  • Cracked heels - in order for callus at the heels to turn to cracked heels, it typically requires that a lot of moisture be lost from the skin, leading to very hard and dry heels. Again, we are able to reduce the thickness of the dry skin and the heels as well as remove the ‘sharper’ edges of any cracks that tend to catch on socks and hosiery, causing many people pain and frustration. We’ll then use a medical sanding disc to smooth the skin over the feet, leaving a small protective layer and positioning you to get the best results from the continued use of emollients at home.

We’ll then discuss the other factors that are likely contributing to your skin dryness, and teach you our podiatrist-approved ways to help you best manage your dry skin and prevent it from recurring. We can also recommend specific products and how best to use them. If we suspect your skin dryness is linked to other medical conditions or problems, we’ll also instruct you on the best next steps, including providing any referrals if needed.

Treatment Options

If you are currently living with dry skin on your feet, our team is here to help - and to ensure you have the best experience doing so. We’re proud to go above and beyond for our patients, focusing not only on managing your symptoms, but helping you get the best long-term outcomes so you don’t continue to battle dry skin for years to come.

General Podiatry

General Podiatry treatment involves routine nail cutting and treating problems affecting the skin and nails.

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