Dermatitis: Finding Help for Skin Troubles on Your Feet
Your feet are a multi-layered phenomenon subject to a variety of issues. Beginning with the basic skeletal structure, you have 33 bones in each one that support your body but are subject to fractures. Ligaments tie the bones together so the structure holds, but they can be stretched and torn. The same thing can happen with tendons, which connect the bones to your muscles that pull them this way and that so you can move about. Nerves send signals back and forth to your brain, and blood vessels deliver nutrients and carry away waste, and problems with either can cause harm to your feet. Finally, they are covered by layers of skin—and we can actually see what happens there. Cuts, scrapes, sores, burns—and something we call dermatitis.
You know your ligaments, tendons and muscles can become inflamed when they are injured, but did you know your skin can, too? This large organ that covers and protects our bodies can become red, swollen, and itchy from a number of causes. Here are a few:
- Atopic dermatitis, also called eczema, often happens in conjunction with other allergies or asthma and can be triggered by stress. Many times the condition follows from parent to child to grandchild, and may involve a defect in the skin that lets in germs and doesn’t hold moisture well. It often appears at creases in the body (backs of knees and fronts of ankles, for instance).
- Stasis dermatitis occurs in those who have congestive heart failure, varicose veins, or other conditions that cause poor circulation in the legs. This allows blood to pool and fluid to accumulate in your ankles and feet. When the skin is stretched too far from the swelling, it becomes irritated and inflamed.
- Contact dermatitis is the most prevalent and at the same time the hardest to nail down. There are so many things that can cause it that it deserves a section of its own.
Skin Rashes from Contact with Irritants
In this condition, the inflammation is a response to an irritant and it usually happens within 24 hours of contact. The skin turns red, itches, may swell in places, and sometimes forms blisters. It is best to have medical experts like the staff at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates check out any problems like these on your skin.
Sometimes you may know what caused it, but many times you will need help from our podiatrists. We won’t just take a quick look and say, “It’s probably athlete’s foot.” We’ll ask questions, examine the rash or lesions, and do further testing to try and pinpoint the reason. That’s key to eliminating the cause and letting your skin heal. Reasons for your skin inflammation may include:
- Plant toxins like poison ivy/oak/sumac/hemlock
- Chemical toxins in cleaners and industrial products
- Perfumes in many body care products
- Preservatives in lotions, such as formaldehyde
- Certain metals, like nickel, used in jewelry or buckles
- Materials in shoes, like rubber, or products used to tan the leather
You may have an immediate allergic reaction to these substances, or a rash can develop over time from repeated exposure. The latter is often the case with water. Too-hot showers or long exposure to water can cause dermatitis.
Treating Your Itchy Red Feet
Treatment for most forms of this condition consists of home remedies, certain medications, and light therapy. Treat the symptoms at home with cool, wet compresses, oatmeal baths, anti-itch products, and stress management techniques, to name a few. It also helps to avoid rubbing, scratching, harsh soaps or detergents, and any known irritant, and to moisturize your skin regularly.
We can prescribe medications like corticosteroid creams and those that affect your immune system to bring relief. Phototherapy—exposing the area to ultraviolet light—can also be beneficial. When you can’t stand your inflamed skin any longer, call Aadvanced Foot Care Associates at one of our locations below or use our online form and we’ll get right to work on eliminating your discomfort. Your feet will be glad you did!