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Why Women Suffer More from Cracked Heels Post-Menopause

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Are you experiencing cracked heels and stubborn white calluses that refuse to go away? This could be due to an underlying condition or your feet are dry. It can give the impression of uncleanliness, making many people self-conscious about exposing their feet. As unpleasant as it may seem, developing a habit of applying lotion to your feet is crucial, especially if you are prone to wounds.

What is heel keratosis?

If you have excessive calluses on your heels, you might suffer from heel keratosis. This condition refers to the proliferation and alteration of the stratum corneum, the topmost layer of the skin, causing it to become rough or hardened. Excessive friction on the sole and lack of moisture can cause this. Treatments like keratolytic or laser therapy can be beneficial if you are diagnosed with heel keratosis.

Skin aging can also be a cause

As people age, their skin may produce less oil and elastin, which is crucial for skin elasticity. This causes heels to become drier and develop more calluses. Postmenopausal women are particularly susceptible to acquired keratoderma, which can lead to more calluses on the heels.

If you have diabetes, your heels can crack easily

People with diabetes are prone to cracked heels. When blood sugar is not well controlled, the autonomic nerves in the feet can get damaged, leading to insufficient oil production to keep the skin soft, resulting in dry skin. Damaged nerves can also reduce sweat production. Diabetic patients often have poor blood circulation, making inflammation hard to heal. Complications such as ulcers or necrosis can occur when bacteria infiltrate through cracked skin.

Intense stimulation can make it thicker

Some people try to remove calluses on their heels with buffers or rough sandpaper or by picking at them with their nails. However, this can make the calluses thicker. The more intense the stimulation, the denser the stratum corneum becomes, resulting in a vicious cycle. It’s not a good idea to recklessly peel off calluses. Applying a generous amount of foot-specific lotion or cream before bed and wrapping it in a wrap or gauze can make your heels noticeably softer.

Massage with a scrub

Another method to remove calluses is to massage with a scrub to remove old calluses about once a week after a foot bath. At this time, applying a foot cream containing disinfectant and moisturizing ingredients is a good choice. However, if the callus is severe, it is more effective to receive a dermatological treatment and remove it with a drug containing a keratolytic agent.

Removing calluses can cause keratosis

Forcing the removal of calluses can cause the keratosis above. Many people tend to remove calluses after soaking in water, but eradicating calluses after soaking can cause dead cells and acid cells to get tangled and fall off, making the skin on the soles of the feet even thicker.

What is a keratotic athlete’s foot?

If you have a keratotic athlete’s foot, your heels typically have white calluses and thickened skin on the soles of your feet. When you scratch the calluses, they may fall off like fine powder. It looks similar to regular calluses and usually doesn’t have other symptoms. As a result, many people mistake it for simple calluses and neglect it. However, if you have blisters on your toes or soles of your feet, or if you have had athlete’s foot before, there is a high possibility of keratotic athlete’s foot, so it is advisable to get an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment needed with antifungal agents

If an athlete’s foot is diagnosed through a fungal test, treatment with antifungal agents is required. In keratotic athlete’s foot cases, a skin-softening agent is used to thin the thickened skin and stratum corneum before antifungal treatment. Applying antifungal agents without this process may not correctly absorb the medication. Keratotic athlete’s foot often becomes chronic, so consistent treatment is necessary. Symptoms can be improved when treating an athlete’s foot and calluses concurrently.

Keep your heel moisturized

Maintaining moisture in the heel calluses is most important. Soaking your feet in lukewarm water can help with moisturizing. The best moisturizer to use is foot cream, but you can also use hand cream as a substitute, although its effectiveness might be slightly lower. The soles of the feet have thicker stratum corneum and epidermis layers than the palms of the hands, making it harder for moisturizing ingredients to penetrate and more prone to cracking or damage. However, foot creams contain more keratolytic and moisturizing ingredients, making them more suitable for application on the feet than hand creams.

Never try saltwater foot baths

Soaking your feet in salt water, which dries out the skin, should be avoided. The water temperature for a foot bath should be slightly higher than body temperature, around 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit, and the soaking time should be around 10 minutes. Additionally, washing your feet with mild soap after a foot bath can help prevent dryness.

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