Dry, calloused feet can be a pesky problem that affects millions of athletes, often leading to discomfort and associated conditions. In this blog post, we'll delve into the root causes of hard skin, explore its connection to various foot issues, and reveal effective methods to get rid of it.
Discover why maintaining soft, supple feet is more than just a cosmetic concern – it's essential for overall foot health and mobility. Say goodbye to rough soles and embrace the confidence of walking on cloud-like feet.
What is hard skin?
Hard skin, also known as callus, is a thickened and toughened area of the skin that commonly develops on the feet, hands, or any area subjected to repetitive friction, pressure, or irritation. It is a natural defense mechanism of the body in response to protect the skin from constant wear and tear; therefore it is an extremely common skin concern in athletes.
The primary cause of hard skin is the body's attempt to shield itself from excessive friction or pressure, which can arise from activities like walking, running, or wearing ill-fitting shoes. As a protective measure, the skin's outermost layer, the epidermis, produces extra layers of keratin, a protein that provides strength and protection.
Hard skin appears as a raised, hardened patch with a rough and sometimes yellowish appearance. It can be painless or may cause mild discomfort depending on its location and thickness. Common areas for hard skin development depend on what type of exercise you perform. In runners, the most common area includes the soles of the feet, heels, and the sides of the toes. In cross-fitters or gym enthusiasts, the hands are the most commonly secondary to dumbbell use.
While hard skin serves a protective function, it may become problematic if it thickens excessively, leading to cracks, fissures, or discomfort. Regular care and appropriate footwear can help prevent the build-up of hard skin and maintain healthy, soft skin in the affected areas.
Causes of hard skin on feet
The formation of hard skin on the feet can be attributed to various factors, each contributing to the development of calluses:
Pressure and Friction
The most common cause is repetitive pressure and friction on specific areas of the feet, often due to ill-fitting shoes or prolonged walking or running. The skin’s defense mechanism is to thicken itself.
The natural shape of the feet can influence hard skin formation. Flat feet or high arches may distribute pressure unevenly, leading to calluses in specific regions.
Occupational and Lifestyle Factors
As mentioned previously, running, hiking, or walking frequently or for long periods increases the likelihood of developing hard skin on the feet (Your skin hardens to protect itself from the constant impact).
Wearing shoes that are too tight or have inadequate support can create pressure points, causing calluses to form over time.
Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and peripheral artery disease alter your blood flow making it more frequent and dangerous to have calluses. Other medical conditions are bunions that make it easier to have friction.
Age and Skin Dryness
What types of hard skin conditions can affect the feet?
Several types of hard skin conditions can affect the feet, each with distinct characteristics and causes.
Corns are small, circular areas of thickened skin that develop between toes, on the toes, or the sides of the feet near a bony prominence. Corns can be painful and have a central core, which distinguishes them from calluses.
If you have corns that don't respond to treatment you need to visit your podiatrist, dermatologist, or health provider. Sometimes at the base of the corns, you can find other skin issues like warts that are the cause of this abnormal thickening of the skin.
Calluses are larger, flat areas of thickened skin that usually form on the soles of the feet due to repetitive pressure or friction. They are typically painless and do not have a core like corns. Calluses act as a protective barrier, but excessive thickness can lead to discomfort.
For more information on calluses and corns, you can read this article by Cleveland Clinic.
This condition results from a viral infection on the soles of the feet. Plantar warts have a grainy, rough surface with small black or purplish dots (they’re blood vessels) and can be mistaken for calluses. Unlike calluses, warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and may require specific treatments. They are more frequent in children or predisposed individuals.
You can read more about warts in this Mayo Clinic article.
Intractable plantar keratosis (IPK) is a localized, really painful skin lesion that looks like a focused callus of 1 cm on your sole. There are two forms: discrete and diffuse and usually appear under a bony prominence.
Though corns, calluses, warts, and plantar keratosis share the characteristics of hard, thickened skin on the feet, their causes, appearances, and treatments differ. While calluses and corns are related to pressure and friction, plantar warts result from a viral infection. Proper diagnosis and treatment by a healthcare professional are essential for effectively managing and alleviating these hard skin conditions.
What could it indicate if your feet have extremely dry skin?
Extremely dry skin on the feet could indicate several potential implications, some of which may be related to underlying health conditions. Persistent dryness may be a sign of:
Athlete's Foot (Fungal Infection)
A common fungal infection that causes dry, itchy, and cracked skin between the toes and on the soles.
For more information on Athlete's Foot read this article by The Mayo Clinic.
Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
A chronic skin condition characterized by dry, red, and inflamed patches that can affect other body parts and less frequently the feet.
An autoimmune disorder that leads to the rapid buildup of dry, scaly skin with red patches. This skin condition usually affects other body parts.
For more information on Psoriasis on the foot read this article by Cleveland Clinic.
High blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage and poor circulation, resulting in dry, cracked skin on the feet and an increased risk of infections.
An underactive thyroid gland may cause dry skin and other skin-related issues.
Nerve damage due to various factors can lead to reduced sensation in the feet, increasing the risk of dry skin and foot injuries.
Ignoring extremely dry skin on the feet can lead to complications such as infections, ulcers, and difficulty walking. Early detection and proper care are crucial to prevent potential health issues. If dryness persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, seeking medical advice is essential to identify any underlying health conditions and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
How to get rid of hard skin on your feet
Getting rid of hard skin on your feet requires a combination of regular care and suitable treatments. Always consult your medical provider before trying any other treatment. Here's a guide to help you achieve smoother, healthier feet:
- - Soak Your Feet: Start by soaking your feet in warm, soapy water for 10-15 minutes to soften the hard skin. This step is optional.
- - Exfoliate: there are chemical and physical exfoliants. Physical is pumice stone or a foot file. The problem with this type of exfoliant for athletes is that it is uneven and you can go deep and remove deeper skin layers. In diabetic athletes, this is not recommended as your circulation is compromised.
- - Chemical exfoliants are better for me as they are easy to use daily and you skip the messiness of dead cells all over your bathroom. Avanza Skin’s a cream for rough feet has urea 20%, a natural potent topical exfoliant that removes all the dead cells and hydrates your skin cells.
- - Moisturize: If you physically exfoliate you will need to apply a moisturizer. Avanza Skin’s a cream for rough feet contains shea butter, along with natural oils from avocado and peppermint to revive hardened feet by hydrating while exfoliating the dead cells all in one step.
- - Wear Proper Footwear: Opt for well-fitted shoes with sufficient cushioning and support to reduce pressure on vulnerable areas of your feet.
- - Salicylic Acid or Callus Pads: are better for corns or localized areas.
Regular maintenance and prevention are key to keeping your feet soft and callus-free. If you have diabetes or circulatory issues, always seek professional guidance before attempting any foot treatments.
Why is the removal of hardened skin from your feet important?
The removal of hardened skin from your feet is important for various reasons. Firstly, hard skin, if left unaddressed, can lead to discomfort and pain while walking or standing. As it thickens, it may develop cracks or fissures, making the skin susceptible to infections.
Ignoring hard skin can result in more severe health issues, especially for individuals with diabetes or circulatory problems. In such cases, even minor injuries or infections can escalate into serious complications like ulcers or cellulitis.
Hardened skin on the feet can also alter foot mechanics, leading to an uneven distribution of pressure and potentially causing issues with posture and gait. This, in turn, may lead to musculoskeletal problems affecting the knees, hips, and lower back.
Regularly removing hard skin through gentle exfoliation and moisturizing helps maintain the skin's natural elasticity, prevents excessive thickening, and reduces the risk of developing calluses. It also promotes better foot health, enhances comfort, and allows for greater mobility, ensuring that you can continue to move comfortably and confidently.
Hard skin on feet keeps coming back
Hard skin on the feet may keep coming back due to several reasons. Improper footwear, such as tight or ill-fitting shoes, can create friction and pressure points that lead to calluses. High-impact activities, like running or walking, can also contribute to the repetitive stress that causes hard skin. If you have an active lifestyle you will have to adjust or take care of this new skin condition by using a cream for rough feet.
Additionally, underlying foot deformities or structural issues may persist, leading to recurring calluses.
To reduce the recurrence of hard skin, preventive measures are essential as mentioned previously. Choose well-fitted, supportive shoes that minimize pressure on vulnerable areas. Consider using silicone or foam padding to protect sensitive spots. Regular foot care, including exfoliation and moisturizing, helps maintain skin softness. Custom orthotics can provide additional support and address structural concerns.
Dry, calloused feet pose a persistent problem, impacting millions globally and causing discomfort along with related conditions. The pursuit of soft, supple feet goes beyond mere aesthetics; it plays a pivotal role in enhancing overall foot health and mobility. Bid farewell to rough soles and embrace the newfound confidence of walking on cloud-like feet.
Avanza Skin’s a cream for rough feet is a high-performance foot cream that is dermatologist-designed and contains the specific ingredients to heal, soften, and hydrate – designed for the needs of active people on the go.
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