In today's fast-paced lifestyle, most of us are on our feet all day, making them prone to skin problems. Direct exposure to dirt and the absence of oil glands make the skin in the foot area much drier than any other part of our body.

Dropping temperature in winter adds to the problem, causing flaking of skin. It can also lead to cracked heels that cause pain and discomfort. 

Here are seven simple tips that will help you achieve silky, smooth feet.
 
Moisturise affected area: One of the major causes of cracked heels is the lack of adequate moisture content in the skin. Constant hydration can prevent the skin from drying out. A gentle moisturiser can help you get rid of this problem. Moisturising the soles of the feet and heels twice every day will prevent the feet from getting rough and dry.
 
Honey and water therapy: These two easily available ingredients can do wonders. Soak your feet in a warm water mixed with honey and gently scrub the affected area. Honey is a natural moisturiser and popular in Ayurveda for its bactericidal and antiseptic properties. Honey with warm water helps gently peel off the dead skin and replenish the moisture content.
 
Keep area between toes dry: When you dry your feet, ensure the area between your toes is wiped of dampness and dirt. Dampness creates a perfect environment for Athlete's foot and other fungal infections.
 
Massage with turmeric and oil: Since the foot area is devoid of oil glands, it is important to apply it externally. Massaging oil and turmeric will help in moisturizing the cracked area as well as reduce any swelling or pain from cracks. Regular massages to the heels can increase blood circulation and rejuvenate the skin. Oil has been used in the bath for centuries to keep skin smooth and nourished, whereas turmeric is known for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
 
Wear cotton socks: Walking barefoot exposes them to bacteria and dirt. It's always better to protect your feet from pollution and dust. Wear cotton socks to aid good air circulation and to keep the feet clean.
 
Comfortable footwear: Choose your footwear wisely. Tight footwear can lead to sweaty feet, causing fungal infections. Go for footwear that gives your foot some space to breathe.
 
Apply foot care cream: Foot care creams with natural ingredients are available in the market today. Creams with ingredients like sal tree and fenugreek can help heal cracked heels naturally. Traditionally, fenugreek has been used as an excellent moisturiser and Sal tree is known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Wash feet with lukewarm water and pat dry. Apply foot care cream over the affected area twice daily, once in the morning after bathing and again at bedtime.
 
(Author Dr Hariprasad V.R. is a Research Scientist at The Himalaya Drug Company)

IANS