By Alix Fuller
Cosmetics: How is the skin on the feet different from the skin on the rest of the body?
Dr. Lisa Kellett: It has a thicker stratum corneum, or dead skin layer, which protects the soles of the feet.
C: What causes painful cracking on the heels?
Dr. LK: The skin can develop fissures or cracks when it’s very dry, or if you have a skin disorder like eczema or psoriasis.
C: Some pedicurists use a razor to remove thick, dry, uncomfortable areas on the soles of the feet. Is there an alternative?
Dr. LK: The alternative is prevention, by keeping the skin from becoming thick and uncomfortable in the first place. Use a pumice stone to remove that thick, dead skin after bathing and while your skin is still damp. Follow up with a thick emollient cream or petroleum jelly.
C: What causes calluses and what’s the best way to get rid of them?
Dr. LK: Calluses form in areas of pressure. If you have a callus, then weight bearing on that foot hasn’t been optimal – certain areas are experiencing more pressure and the skin in those areas responds to this trauma by becoming thicker. The most likely cause is ill-fitting footwear. The best way to get rid of calluses is to distribute your body weight more uniformly by wearing better-fitting shoes and using a pumice stone to smooth them away. Your physician can also remove calluses with a scalpel.
C: Why does foot skin become dry and uncomfortable after spending a day in high heels?
Dr. LK: High heels cause a significant shift in ideal weight-bearing of the foot, which causes discomfort.
C: Can anything be done about feet that don’t smell fresh no matter how well taken care of they are?
Dr. LK: Yes. For those individuals who find their feet sweaty and malodorous, Botox cosmetic can be used to decrease sweating.
C: Sandal season is coming. Can you suggest a regimen to make sure feet will look their best?
Dr. LK: Practice regular good foot care, such as using a pumice stone after bathing and applying an emollient afterwards. If you find your skin is very dry, do this at bedtime then wrap your feet in saran wrap and wear cotton socks to bed.