By: Dr. Jaishree Sharad
While we usually spend a bomb on face creams and cosmetics, we often forget our hands and feet. Hands are in constant use from morning to night. Feet bear the brunt of the body throughout the day. So why give them a miss when it comes to skin care?
Cleansing your hands and feet twice a day is more than sufficient unless they have gotten dirty. Avoid being obsessive about washing your hands and feet throughout the day. Wash them only when needed. Avoid using harsh soaps which can alter the pH of the skin and dehydrate it further.
Make sure you moisturise your hands and feet twice a day. In the morning, use a lighter moisturiser which has lactic acid, petrolatum, hyaluronic acid or vitamin E. At night, use a moisturiser which is thicker & forms a soft coat on your skin. Look for ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil, squalene, ceramides in your night moisturiser for hands and feet. Make sure you apply the moisturiser on a slightly damp skin.
You need to be particularly fastidious about your use of sun screen (a minimum of SPF 30) on your hands and feet, which usually face the brunt of unprotected sun exposure.
If you have cuts in your palms or you find the skin peeling, avoid the use of soaps and detergents. Do not use hand sanitisers too often. Make sure you apply butter or cooking oil or even ghee before cutting vegetables or fruits. Direct contact with flowers can also increase the cuts and cracks. It is better to avoid flower offerings till your hands heal.
To avoid cracks & rough soles, you need to do a little pedicure routine at home at least twice a week. Add a few drops of almond oil or coconut oil to warm water and soak your feet for about 10 minutes. Scrub the dead skin on the soles with a pumice stone or a mild loofah. You may also use crushed fruit pits or brown sugar to scrub. Apply a thick moisturising cream which contains shea butter. If possible, wear cotton socks all the time. In case there are cuts, you may need to apply an antibacterial cream such as mupirocin along with the mosituriser. Deep cracks and cuts will need a cortisone cream which will be prescribed by a dermatologist .So you should consult one.
If you have hard calluses, use a cream with salicylic acid or urea to soften the skin and exfoliate.
If you have corns, it is best to get them removed surgically. Use corn caps only if the corns have just appeared. Make sure you wear soft cushioned shoes in order to prevent recurrence.
Fungal infections of the feet : Also known as athelete’s foot, this condition is common in people who wear closed shoes throughout the day. Dark and damp conditions let the funguses that cause athlete’s foot flourish. Basic good foot hygiene is the best way to prevent fungal infections. Wash your feet frequently and dry them thoroughly, especially between your toes. Wear fresh socks or other hosiery daily. After a shower in the morning, dust a good amount of antifungal powder. Use an antifungal cream at bedtime. In severe cases cases of athlete’s foot, one must consult a dermatologist.
Nail care is important to prevent brittle nail, fungal infections, bacterial infections of the nail. Keep your nails clean and well trimmed. Moisturize your toenails with a cuticle cream, coconut oil or vitamin E oil. Apply it over the entire nail, including the cuticle, and gently rub it in.
Make sure the cuticle is not touched during manicures and pedicures.
Always use an alcohol free nail polish remover. Avoid gel nails and artificial nails if you already have yellow nails or fungal infection of the nails.
In situations where your hands give away your age, Skin booster injections made of hyaluronic acid are given into the skin of hands and feet to keep them nourished, hydrated, plumped and free of wrinkles. The other treatment is radiofrequency skin tightening.
The writer, is Vice President, Cosmetic Dermatology Society of India, CEO, Skinfiniti Aesthetic and LASER Clinic www.jaishreesharad.com