Caring For Your Foot’s Skin: Common Myths

People have been caring in a multitude of different ways over the years. Amongst the seemingly endless number of homespun treatments for foot skin ailments, some remain despite the advance of medical science. Most of these treatments have a rich history, but are not necessarily medically validity. This article will discuss five such treatments, and shed some light into how it was assumed they would be effective.Soaking the Feet In Water Will Make Them Less Dry.The thought behind why soaking feet in water for the purpose of moisturization is an obvious one: feet look moist and soft when removed from a tub of water. This is due to the over saturation of one’s porous skin tissue that develops when the skin is submerged in water for a long time. While this may look and feel nice for a short while, the effect does not last long. Soaking the feet in water for an extended period actually has the opposite effect than intended: it will dry skin even more than before the soaking. The foot has natural sweat and oil glands that help maintain moisturization and skin health, in addition to their primary responsibility of transferring heat out of the body. When the foot is soaked, especially in warm soapy water, the oils in the skin glands are removed, and as the foot dries from the soaking release of natural perspiration is not necessary as the heat transfer has already occurred in the water. The end result is a foot that becomes drier coming out of a soak than going in. Moisturizing the feet should involve quality skin moisturizers that work with the natural oils and moisture of the feet, and not a tub of water.Using Rubbing Alcohol Will Ease Foot Soreness and Joint Pain.People have been rubbing all sorts of chemicals on their feet since the dawn of time. Among these chemicals are solutions and tonics containing different herbs and distilled alcohol. In the last century, the ready availability of isopropyl alcohol in the pharmacy has served as a replacement for the tonics of old in the home-based treatment of foot aches and pains. There is only one problem: alcohol has little role in reducing inflammation and can actually be harmful to the skin. Alcohol has a faster time of evaporation than water, and as it evaporates off the skin a cooling effect will be felt. This cooling effect may disrupt the sensation of pain one has in an inflammatory condition like arthritis. Unfortunately, this effect is short lived, and does little to address the true nature of the pain: the inflammatory reaction itself. Alcohol in large amounts can be toxic to skin, and can harm healing tissue and healthy skin alike. It can cause skin cellular damage, inflammation, and can possibly lead to skin thickening (fibrosis) if one has extended exposure. Of course, the small concentrations used in alcohol swipes for injections and in hand sanitizers are not going to cause these problems. Instead of using rubbing alcohol, try an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen (if your doctor has not advised you against using it), or menthol-based topical gels and creams.Listerine and Vicks VapoRub Will Cure Toenail Fungus.The origin of these treatments is likely out of contemporary testimonials, many passed online now. The claim is that using these chemicals will result in a cure of the difficult-to-treat problem of toenail fungus, as a safer alternative to prescription antifungal pills and a cheaper alternative to oil-based legitimate topical antifungal medications. Those who tout these home cures claim improvement in the appearance of the nail after awhile, with sudden or gradual clearance of nail discoloration as the ultimate result. Unfortunately, the active ingredients in either of these two products really do not have significant antifungal properties and in reality probably cannot effectively penetrate the nail plate to get to where the nail fungus is actually located: the skin underneath the nail. There is no scientific study proving their effectiveness, and there probably never will be because a pharmaceutical company cannot profit on a pre-existing product. Regardless, much of the supposed cure likely comes from the way the chemicals in these products can loosen keratin debris on and within the nail, which when removed can make a nail look ‘normal’ again. It can also be assumed that many of these so-called cures were actually visual improvement in nails that were never actually infected with fungus. Not all nail discoloration is due to a fungal infection, and in some cases simple nail softening and clearance of keratin deposits in the nail itself can result in a better looking nail. This is why nail fungus should be properly diagnosed and treated by a physician, like any other infection in the body.Vinegar Can Cure Foot Odor.Vinegar has been used as an adjunctive soaking agent for a long time, and has also been identified as a way to reduce foot odor. People often mix a water and vinegar soak to treat foot odor. Vinegar contains acetic acid, and indirectly may contribute to reducing foot odor if one understands how foot odor forms. However, there are more direct, effective ways at eliminating foot odor that does not involve pickling the feet. Foot odor is caused by bacteria that proliferate in a moist environment, particularly the environment found on excessively sweaty feet. The bacteria release chemical by-products that have odorous properties. Acetic acid can kill some bacteria, and is particularly effective against a bacteria called pseudomonas. Wounds that are infected and green colored skin and nails, which is the color produced by pseudomonas infections, are frequently treated with acetic acid soaking. Unfortunately, in the case of foot odor, this treatment is one step behind. The most efficient way of killing odor causing bacteria is to prevent their growth in the first place. By using antiperspirants on the foot skin, one reduces the sweating that leads to the bacteria in the first place, eliminating the need for a vinegar soak. So while vinegar treatment for foot odor may be indirectly helpful, there is a better, more efficient way to effect a ‘cure’.Duct Tape Can Cure Foot Warts.Well, this one may actually be true. Warts are the skin expression of a viral infection, in which a specific type of virus enters the skin through a break or crack, and causes an infection. Part of that infection can include a skin lesion that is part callus, part cauliflower-like growth expanding outward. On the bottom surface of the foot these can be very painful as body weight is applied to them. The body does not generally recognize this skin-limited virus like it does others that circulate in the blood stream, and an immune response is not usually stimulated by the infection, leaving the virus to replicate in peace. Traditional medical treatment involves the use of skin acids to stimulate an inflammatory response in the skin, which eventually stimulates the immune system into acting and destroying the virus completely. It just so happens that duct tape has a very strong adhesive that chemically can irritate skin tissue if prolonged exposure occurs. The same skin reaction can occur, leading to a cure for the infection. This technique is not the most effective one available, but can potentially work in some cases, with some scientific validity behind it.As one can see, there are many homespun treatments in use for common foot skin diseases. Most have limited effectiveness, are not backed by science, and may actually be harmful. Before considering any nonmedical treatment for a skin condition, research the supposed reason for its effectiveness, and don’t be fooled by online testimonials as there may be other factors to consider in these stories of success, and nonscientific anecdotal evidence does not necessarily prove a treatment to be the effective ‘good guy’ facing the ‘evil’ corporate pharmacy’s potentially harmful product.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.