Dry Cracked Feet

The skin on our feet is naturally dry, unlike the skin on the rest of the body. The skin on our feet has no oil glands, so it relies on hundreds of thousands of sweat glands to keep our feet moisturized. This can be problematic for people who do not properly moisturize their feet on a regular basis, or who have a medical condition—such as diabetes or athlete’s foot—that causes dry feet. Anyone can have dry feet, but the condition is more common among seniors and diabetics.

Dry feet can range in severity from mild, temporary dry skin to severe dry skin that causes additional problems. Skin can become dry for a number of reasons, but there are ways to prevent it, such as keeping your feet moisturized and avoiding rubbing or scratching the skin.

Dry Feet Symptoms

Dry feet are generally a symptom of another problem, and if you have dry feet you may experience additional symptoms such as:

  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Cracks in the feet (fissures)
  • Rough skin
  • Flaky skin
  • Peeling skin
  • Rash (usually brought on by itching)
  • Problem worsens in winter months

What Causes Dry Feet?

Dry feet are caused by a lack of moisture in the skin. There are several common factors that can lead to dry feet, including:

  • Excessively hot showers or baths
  • A skin condition that dries the skin (eczema, psoriasis, etc.)
  • Soaps that are non-moisturizing
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disease
  • Cold weather
  • Low humidity levels in home, office, etc. (heating systems are known to dry the air)
  • Aging (we naturally lose moisture in our skin as we age)
  • Long periods spent in the sun

Dry Feet Treatment

Treating dry feet usually begins with treating the underlying cause. Some people naturally have dry skin and must constantly take extra steps to ensure that their feet are moisturized at all times. The most common solution for dry feet is a therapeutic oil, ointment, or cream. Most lotions are not recommended for dry feet because they contain alcohol, which can dry the skin further. Baby lotion is usually acceptable since it does not contain chemicals that irritate the skin. Additional treatments may include:

  • Applying lotion to feet after bathing
  • Using mild moisturizing soaps for skin
  • Staying hydrated

Talk with your doctor about home remedies. Spearmint, eucalyptus oil, and pumice stones can be used, but only under the guidance of your physician. Treatment for your dry feet may be as simple as treating an underlying medical condition such as thyroid disease. If you are diabetic, you may be more prone to foot problems. Controlling your diabetes can prevent dry skin on your feet.

Preventing Dry Feet

Many of the treatment methods mentioned above can also be used to prevent dry skin on your feet. Here are some tips to help you avoid this condition:

  • Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter lotions, creams, and moisturizers to help you manage the dryness.
  • Do not rub or scratch the affected area. Instead, try applying cold compresses or ice packs to the itchy area for a few minutes at a time.
  • Do not wash too often. Avoid bubble baths, fragrant soaps, and other products that may dry your skin. Pat your skin dry when you are finished instead of rubbing the towel over your body. Use lukewarm water instead of hot water. The heat from the water can contribute to your dry feet.
  • Avoid saunas and steam baths if possible.
  • Moisturize after each shower or every time your feet come into contact with water.
  • Wear shoes that allow your feet to breathe. Avoid excessive sweating.
  • Avoid blasting the heater in your home, or use a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air. Heating units are notorious for drying out the air in a home or office.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can cause the itchy feeling to worsen.

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