The effect of a homoeopathic hydrogel complex in the appearance of dry and cracked plantar skin

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    Abstract: Dry skin of the plantar region of the feet is a common condition. Symptoms tend to be exaggerated in people that exert excessive pressure on their feet. The condition tends to be associated with cracks, redness, flaking and peeling, as well as itching of plantar skin. Creams, ointments or any other topical applications as well as corticosteroid therapy are used by many patients for dry plantar skin. Homoeopathic therapies are routinely used for the management of skin diseases. The study aimed to determine the effect of a topical application of a homoeopathic hydrogel complex consisting of Graphites naturalis D10, Petroleum D10, Silicea terra D10, Sarsaparilla officinalis D10 and Sulphur D10 in the appearance of dry and cracked plantar skin. This complex was prepared and prescribed according to homoeopathic principles and there has been no known research conducted with regards to this combination of homoeopathic treatment. This was a double blind, control study where participants completed a physical examination and an examination of the feet. The feet were assessed by means of a symptom rated six-point Likert scale, visual analogue scale for pain as well as physical measurements made with a Digimizer software programme on photos taken from the feet to determine the size of the lesions. The data collected was statistically analysed and interpreted. The Digimizer measurements revealed that both groups displayed an improvement for area in the right and left foot. The unmedicated hydrogel (control group) however improved significantly more compared to the medicated hydrogel (experimental group). The measurements for perimeter, length and width revealed that the mean of the lesions measured for the experimental group increased in the right and left foot and decreased in control group. The experimental group showed a statistically insignificant difference between the consultations, where the control group showed a statistically significant difference. The Likert scale score cross tabulation demonstrated that participants experienced an improvement in their symptoms for dryness, cracking, redness, itching and tingling as well as the total Likert scale scores. Participant numbers for flaking and peeling rated as “none to mild” however decreased in the experimental group. In contrast the control group increased in the “none to mild” category demonstrating an average percentage improvement for flaking and peeling. The medicated hydrogel did not show a statistically significant improvement over time while the unmedicated hydrogel indicated a statistically significant improvement over time for dryness, cracking, flaking, peeling and the total Likert scale scores. A statistically insignificant result was found in both groups for redness, itching and tingling. The cross tabulation for the visual analogue scale for pain showed that majority of the participants experienced a statically significant improvement in their levels of pain in the feet in each consultation for both groups. The study concluded that the hydrogel acted as an effective base for the effective hydration and improvement of symptoms of dry, cracked plantar skin. The overall results do not support the hypothesis that the homoeopathic hydrogel complex would assist in treating the appearance of dry and cracked plantar skin and thus not demonstrably more efficacious than unmedicated hydrogel. However, due to the various factors including the effect of ethanol content, homoeopathic treatment philosophy and associated with the administration of the medicated complex, further research is warranted over a longer period of time to account for these factors.