Wondering why the skin on the soles tends to be dry and cracked?

How different is the skin on our feet?

The Skin on the Feet

The skin on our feet is noticeably different from that on most other areas of the body.

Our feet help to bring us where we want to go every day. They bear and propel our body weight as we walk and run. They also withstand a lot of friction as we walk. As a result, the skin on our feet is thicker especially at the heels and balls of our feet.

Almost everyone experiences dry skin at some point or another. Having dry and cracked skin on the heels is a common problem. However it may develop to itchiness, a skin rash, pain or secondary infection over time.

Who is prone to dry and cracked feet?
Age

Our skin cell turnover rate decreases as we age, resulting in thicker skin. The protective fat pad on our sole also gets thinner. Losing this protective cushion increases skin stress, leading to cracked skin. There are also no oil glands on the skin of our feet. Dry skin is further aggravated due to lack of oils.

Pressure of body weight

The weight of our body creates pressure on our feet. The heavier we get, the bigger the pressure. This pressure may result in cracked skin especially if our skin is already very dry.

Physical conditions

Wearing shoes for a whole day results in high heat and humidity within the shoe. Water loss from the skin ultimately results in thickening of skin.

Lifestyle

People who lead an active lifestyle tend to be on their feet the whole day. This increases the stress on their feet which increases chances of callused and dry skin.

Skin conditions

People with pre-existing conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, diabetes, obesity are prone to dry and cracked feet.

Fashion

Open-back shoes and sandals offer little support of the fat pad under the foot. The heel is also exposed to the external environment, leaving it vulnerable to damage.

Cracked Heels

Our skin is a natural barrier against external micro-organisms and bacteria.

Dry flaky skin can lead to micro-cracks in our feet. If we do not treat it, it can become deeper due to further water loss. Walking may become painful and the fissure may even bleed.

In the long run, bacterial infection such as cellulitis may set in. Cellulitis can affect all ages and patients may develop fevers and chills. Cellulitis is a potentially serious problem and may lead to heart infection or soft tissue infection.

Ineffective Greasy Creams

A lot of foot creams are formulated to be very rich, heavy and greasy, with the 'occlusive' concept to slow down water evaporation from the surface of the skin.

However, despite enthusiastic applications, these foot creams give little or no improvement. That's because the foot creams only seal up the skin to prevent further water loss, but not supplementing moisture to the deeper layers of the skin for effective repair.

Problems are not solved at the root.