Dry, Cracked Feet: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
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Your feet carry you everywhere, so you need to treat them well. With proper care and a regular moisturizing routine, you can have smooth, soft feet that will take you on a lifetime of adventure.
What Causes Dry, Cracked Feet?
More than 44 million U.S. adults struggle with dry, cracked feet, but the condition is much more prevalent in women. Why? Women are much more likely to wear sandals, open-backed shoes, or shoes without socks.
Weather can play a prominent role in dry, cracked feet during both winter and summer. Dry, cold weather can suck moisture out of your skin and lead to dry skin in winter. In summer, wearing sandals can result in dry feet by exposing your skin to dry, hot weather. This constant exposure to air increases the risk of dryness, cracks, and calluses on your feet.
Medical conditions can also contribute to dry feet symptoms. Those suffering from Athlete’s foot, eczema, psoriasis, and diabetes can experience dry heels as well.
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Leading Causes of Dry Cracked Feet
- Open-Backed and Open-Toed Shoes: Prolonged or repeated exposure to air and other outdoor elements has a drying effect on your feet. If you’re worried about dry feet, protect the skin on your feet by wearing socks and close-toed shoes.
- Medications: Certain medications have a drying effect on the skin. Diuretics and antihistamines reduce the water levels on the outermost layer of the skin, leaving it vulnerable to dryness.
- Hot Water: Frequent exposure to hot water (over 110 degrees Fahrenheit) strips away the skin’s natural oils, which are essential for keeping the skin hydrated and soft. Hot showers, baths, and hot tubs can all contribute to dry skin.
- Health Conditions: Certain health conditions like diabetes, Athlete’s foot, psoriasis, eczema, and thyroid disease may leave your feet more vulnerable to dryness. “Poor circulation and nerve damage may prevent you from knowing your feet are dry and cracked,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Simone McKitty.
- Vitamin Deficiencies: If you have dry skin, you may also be missing key vitamins in your diet. There are a lot of vitamins that can help maintain foot health. Vitamin A helps maintain and rejuvenate skin tissue, while vitamin E and C are powerful antioxidants that help keep skin healthy and smooth by protecting it from free radicals that can cause wrinkles and cracks in the skin.
Remedies for Dry, Cracked Feet
If your feet are a little rough around the edges, you can restore, rejuvenate, and refresh your feet with the ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet. Pamper your feet with easy home remedies:
Soak Your Feet and Heels to Remove Toxins and Promote Healing
Fill a tub, container, or foot bath with warm soapy water and immerse your feet for about 20 minutes. For extra benefit, mix one cup of vinegar, apple cider vinegar, Epsom salt, or lemon juice with seven cups of water to detox your feet and prep them for exfoliation.
Exfoliate Weekly to Remove Dry Skin
Gently rub your feet with a pumice stone or foot file to remove dead skin cells. Over time, this will help remove rough, dry patches of skin and leave you with soft, smooth feet. To effectively exfoliate your feet, gently scrub them with a pumice stone, loofah, or another type of foot scrubber after soaking your feet in warm water. Depending on how rough your feet are, exfoliating 1-2 times a week is plenty. Always follow up with a moisturizer to protect and hydrate your skin.
“Depending on how rough your feet are, exfoliating 1-2 times a week is plenty. Always follow up with a moisturizer to protect and hydrate your skin.”
Use a Liquid Bandage for Severe Cracks
Liquid bandages are a topical skin treatment that acts as a new layer of skin. It helps lock in moisture and keep out germs and bacteria that can make cracked heels even worse. It’s best to apply liquid bandages to clean, dry feet.
Use a Foot Cream for Deep Moisturization
Creams designed specifically for the thick skin on your feet are essential for maintaining proper foot health.
Do an Overnight Foot Mask to Soothe Dryness
When your feet need a little extra TLC, give them an overnight moisturizing treatment to soothe, soften and rejuvenate dry, cracked skin. This at-home foot mask utilizes natural oils, shea butter, and vitamin E to provide intense hydration for dry feet.
Looking for more solutions for your dry feet? Check out our top dry feet remedies to give your feet the attention they deserve!
How to Prevent Dry Feet
Preventing dry feet which can even crack is a combination of skincare best practices. While it’s important to moisturize your feet daily, giving them the royal treatment a few times a month is essential for keeping them healthy while treating any dryness or cracking. Keep your feet smooth, soft, and pain-free with these tips:
- Use a foot cream daily: Lotions or creams containing glycerine help draw moisture into the deeper layers of skin and keep your feet hydrated all day, or night.
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- Wear socks: Socks help prevent rubbing, chafing, hot spots, and blisters. Try soft, breathable fabrics like cotton or wool to protect your feet from over-drying.
- Wear the right footwear: Choose flat, well-fitting shoes that offer good support to protect your feet from slipping or gait issues that could lead to dry, cracked skin. However, if flip-flops and sandals are your footwear of choice in warmer months, remember to moisturize your feet daily to avoid dry, cracked heels.
Give your feet a reason to jump for joy by pampering them with regular foot care. Regardless of what is causing your dry, cracked feet, following these tips can relieve your symptoms and moisturize your aching feet.
- Exfoliate regularly: Regular exfoliation, such as a mild exfoliant like sugar, helps prevent calluses and cracks caused by dry skin. If you have issues with dry, cracked skin, regular exfoliation will help slough off dead skin cells over time, leaving you with silky, soft feet.
Dermatologist Tip: “Foot soaks followed by use of a pumice stone or foot file is also great to prevent dry cracked heels,” says Dr. McKitty.
- Dry skin on feet is commonly caused by exposure to cold and/or dry weather, exposing feet to too hot of water (such as baths or hot tubs), genetic predispositions to dry skin and a variety of medical conditions.
- Extremely feet can lead to painful cracks that tend to show up on your heels. To relieve pain and protect cracked skin, use a liquid bandage to seal your skin.
- Soak your feet in warm water and exfoliate afterward to remove dry skin cells and reveal smoother skin. Add skin-healing ingredients like honey, Epsom salt, or milk to your foot soak for additional benefit.
- For intense moisturization, combine a hydrating lotion with a concentrated moisturizer (coconut oil, olive oil, and shea butter will all do). Rub the solution all over your feet and cover with socks overnight.
- Prevent dry, cracked feet by using a daily foot moisturizer, wearing socks and close-toed shoes, and exfoliating regularly.