A question I am often asked by patients with dry cracked heels or heavy calluses, WHAT IS THE BEST FOOT CREAM? My answer is a cream containing UREA.
Urea is naturally present in our skin and is also known as carbamide. The FDA state, “Urea dissolves the intercellular matrix of the cells of the stratum corneum, promoting desquamation of scaly skin, eventually resulting in softening of hyperkeratotic areas”. In other words – it breaks down the hard skin and softens it. Urea is also hygroscopic (water-loving) – meaning it draws and retains water within skin cells, helping your skin to create its own moisture. This is much better than other creams or emollients that just lock in moisture.
But which cream is best? The sun is (hopefully) about to come out and you cannot wait to get those strappy sandals on. Or you are going on a sun holiday and plan on making your family and co-workers jealous by posting photos of your feet up on a deck chair looking over a pool or sandy beach. But let’s face it – no one wants to see dry, flaky, cracked heels or those lumps of hard skin on the side of your big toes. So picture this – you are standing in the aisle of the chemist, looking at shelves filled with a wide variety of creams, ranging in price, all claiming to do wonders – but which foot cream do you need to get your hooves soft and supple. Urea based creams come in different strengths so you can choose the correct product for your feet depending on how dry or hard the skin on your feet is.
Let”s take Flextiol for example. This is a widely available foot cream that you may have seen in your local chemist. There are three variations – Flexitol Foot Cream, Flexitol Heel Balm and Flexitol Platinum. So does this mean you need to buy one cream for your forefoot but a different one for your heels? No. What you need to do is decide do you want 10%, 25% or 30% urea which is what you can see if you turn the box around and check the ingredients. If the skin on your feet looks okay with no hard skin then a urea10% cream is sufficient. But if they are dry or have areas of callus and corns the you will need to get a foot cream containing urea25-30%.
My favourite foot cream is Dermatonics Once which contains 25% urea. This is available to buy from most chemists and one I stock for resale in the clinic. Dermatonics Once only needs to be applied once a day and is particularly good for patients with diabetes. It is absorbed by the skin nicely, has a lovely mild smell and does not leave the skin feeling oily or slippery.
Foot cream should be applied daily all over the foot, toes and nails paying particular attention to areas that are dry, cracked or calloused. However cream should never be applied between the toes. There is enough moisture here already and adding to it could lead to skin conditions like tinea pedis (athletes foot). I often tell people to keep the cream beside their bed and massage into their feet just before getting into the bed. A nice treat for your feet at the end of the day. It”s also important to pay attention to any skin changes, lumps and bumps on the skin while applying the cream. If you are worried about anything like a mole or strange skin tag on the foot you should get this checked out by your podiatrist or GP particularly if it”s new and changing in shape/size/colour.
We all have a variety of lotions and potions for our face, but do you have a cream for your feet? And if you do, are you using it regularly? Apply foot cream daily and keep your feet (and your podiatrist) happy!