Dry Skin in the Foot Associated with Cancer Treatment

Dry skin in the foot is not always associated with causes such as cancer treatment but it is a fact that cancer therapies may create severe dry skin (xerosis).  Dry skin can cause the top layer to split especially around the heels and cause painful thickened hard skin (callus) and corns. Reading score = 56

callus under the ball of foot

Routine podiatry will help to reduce fissures and callus through debridement (finely skilled scalpel reduction of dead skin) and leave healthy pain free skin.  Frequent use of ointments to rehydrate the skin is recommended. Ointments that soften skin cells (keratolytics) such as salicylic acid 6% with a urea base of 10%-40%, can be applied.   Patient must check that the skin doesn’t become white and rubbery and if so stop using the cream for a few days.  A cream containing a weak trichloraectic acid solution (keratolytic) and urea, such as Clearzal hard skin remover and available over the counter can be used.  This has delivered good results with close monitoring (Shah-Hamilton, 2020).


The effects of dry skin

Avoidance of the risk of skin breakdown can arise in patients with thin and sensitive skin, therefore close monitoring of the skin is paramount. Where diabetes also exists, any cream application should be cautiously selected for diabetic skin. The following regular foot problems include:

  • Changes with the foot can cause new footwear problems
  • Painful walking alters weight bearing under the foot and strains tendons
  • changes to skin and nails
  • painful joint pain
  • self care and daily life activities are difficult to perform eg cutting toenails or caring for the skin

Podiatric-medical intervention should help to avoid any undesirable effects of anticancer therapy. By working in partnership with the cancer team many concerns can be resolved. It is important when seeing either your cancer team or podiatrist that you are encouraged to liaise with each person to achieve the most successful outcome of treatment. Always speak to your podiatrist about any problems you notice on your foot no matter how trivial.  As the specialists of feet, like dentists are the specialist for your teeth, they can reassure you..

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Supplementary facts and podiatry from Afni Shah-Hamilton

Thanks for reading ‘Dry Skin in the Foot Associated with Cancer Treatment‘  by Afni Shah-Hamilton 

Published  by Busypencilcase Reflective Communications.
April 2020. Reviewed 28 March 2021

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