Maryland summers are muggy, but when winter hits, the humidity tanks, and the wind kicks up, sucking the moisture out of your skin.
In many cases, all you need to do is make a few lifestyle changes and slather on some lotion, but if you let dry skin get out of control, you put your skin at risk, and your feet are prime targets.
Our team at Easton Dermatology Associates helps folks throughout Easton, Salisbury, and Stevensville, Maryland, manage their dry skin and keep their feet out of danger. Here’s why it’s essential to manage dry skin as well as a closer look at how it affects your feet.
Get to know your skin
Your skin is only a few millimeters thick at most, but it’s your largest and heaviest organ and accounts for about one-seventh of your body weight. Although you may take it for granted, a closer look at its daily duties may inspire a newfound appreciation. Your skin:
- Acts as a barrier to pathogens
- Regulates body temperature
- Prevents dehydration
- Protects you from cold and heat
- Provides sensory touch
- Stores water and fat
- Produces hormones
- Heals wounds
- Reproduces itself
Considering these essential roles, proper skincare should tip your priority list, and that starts with understanding the culprits behind dry skin.
Common causes of dry skin
Several factors contribute to dry skin, including the weather. Low humidity, cold winds, and indoor heating pull moisture from your skin. Frequent handwashing or bathing, especially if you use very hot water and/or use harsh soaps, can also dehydrate your skin. You can prevent dry skin — or at least prevent it from worsening — by avoiding these controllable factors.
However, some situations are beyond your control, such as aging, which naturally decreases skin moisture and certain medical conditions that rob your skin’s hydration.
How dry skin can damage your feet
If you ignore dry skin and don’t prevent moisture loss, you may be at risk for developing skin conditions that require medical attention. Although the skin all over your body is susceptible, your feet are particularly vulnerable. Here’s what could be in store for your feet if you let dry go untreated.
Also known as eczema, atopic dermatitis is a common complication of dry skin; it also causes dry skin. So, if you have eczema in other parts of your body, your feet may be the next victim. Symptoms include red, itchy rashes, blisters, welts, and scales.
Feet are also vulnerable to other types of eczema, such as:
- Dyshidrotic eczema: deep blisters on the soles
- Nummular eczema: round spots that ooze and crust over
- Contact dermatitis: allergic reactions
We can diagnose and treat foot eczema, reducing your pain and other symptoms.
Dry skin is prone to cracking, and breaches in your skin’s surface allow bacteria to enter the lower layers. Once infection sets in, your skin functionality is compromised: it doesn’t heal as quickly, can’t protect you from outside elements, and doesn’t renew itself efficiently.
Uncontrolled infections may lead to gangrene, a serious condition that destroys healthy tissue and may necessitate amputation.
A word about diabetes
Diabetes is one of the most common health conditions that go hand-in-hand with dry skin and foot problems. The high blood glucose that’s characteristic of diabetes damages the peripheral nerves that serve your feet. In addition to causing numbness, tingling, and pain, this condition also makes it unlikely that you’ll notice a cut or wound on your feet, increasing the chances it’ll go untreated and develop into a more serious infection.
The nerve damage also affects the sweat glands in your feet and, therefore, their moisture level. Dry feet mean more cracks and fissures that open the door to bacteria and infection.
Treating dry feet
The first thing to do when you have dry feet and skin is to identify the culprits and avoid those you can.
If your feet are infected, we can prescribe antibiotics and recommend appropriate creams and ointments to restore moisture. In many cases, applying these products under occlusion is best, wrapping a plastic bag over a heavy slather of the cream to encase your skin for about an hour for maximum penetration.
Don’t ignore dry feet — contact Easton Dermatology Associates for expert care. Contact us at any of our three Maryland locations today.