Dry Cracked Feet and How To Fix Them
Dry cracked feet can be a problem any time of the year. Whether it’s summer and you are embarrassed by your cracked heels when wearing sandals or going barefoot, or it’s the dead of winter, it’s important to know how to fix dry cracked feet both for appearances and your health.
Why do you have dry cracked feet?
Before talking about how to treat your dry cracked feet, including the results of a new study, it’s important to understand why many people have this problem. One reason is that unlike the skin on the rest of your body, the skin on your feet does not have any oil glands, which makes them susceptible to dryness.
Another major reason for dry feet is the presence of athlete’s foot or diabetes, both of which are associated with xerosis (dry skin). Older adults also are more likely to have dry feet, especially cracked heels, because the skin loses moisture with age.
In addition to these basic reasons for dry cracked feet, there are lifestyle habits and environmental conditions that contribute to the problem. For example:
- Use of harsh, non-moisturizing soaps or bubble bath
- Prolonged exposure of the feet to the sun (especially in the summer)
- Taking excessively hot baths or showers
- Use of saunas or hot tubs
- Exposure to cold weather
- Living or working in an environment with forced air heat and low humidity
- Failure to routinely moisturize the feet
- Wearing footwear that irritates or rubs the skin or that cause your feet to sweat excessively
How to treat dry cracked feet
The first remedy people think of for dry cracked feet is body lotion, but you may actually make the condition worse. Why? Because many body lotions contain alcohol, which has a drying effect.
To help treat or prevent dry cracked feet, here are some solutions. You should consult your healthcare provider before using any remedies, especially if you have diabetes, are elderly, or your feet are significantly dry and cracked.
- Humectant-rich lotions. Humectants are substances that help retain moisture, such as urea and glycerin. In a new controlled study appearing in Skin Research and Technology, researchers reported on their use of a humectant-rich lotion containing 15 percent alphahydroxy acids and 15 percent urea to treat both normal skin and dry cracked feet. They found that the humectant-rich formula improved hydration of the skin and effectively relieved the dryness on the feet without compromising the skin barrier, making it a wise choice for dry cracked feet.
- Baby lotion. Most baby lotion products do not contain alcohol or other chemicals that irritate the skin. Be sure to read the label before making your purchase.
- Mashed banana. Take an overly ripe banana, mash it well, and apply to your feet. Prop up your feet and leave the banana on for about 15 minutes, then rinse your feet with warm water. Try this remedy once or twice a week.
- Lemon recipe. In a shallow basin (big enough to soak your feet in) pour warm water and mix in the juice of one lemon, a teaspoon of shampoo, and a teaspoon of petroleum jelly. Soak your feet for about 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry. Use this remedy two to three times a week.
- Vegetable oil. You don’t need to buy expensive foot lotions or creams when vegetable oil will do. After your shower or bath, apply vegetable oil to your feet, massage it in thoroughly, then put on cotton or wool socks and wear them to bed. If you do this every night, you will see a significant improvement in your feet within a few days.
- Petroleum jelly and lemon. Here’s another low-cost remedy. Mix together a tablespoon of petroleum jelly and about 1 tablespoon of pure lemon juice. You can use lemon juice from a fresh lemon or from a bottle. After your bath or shower and before going to bed, apply the mixture and put on cotton or wool socks. In the morning, use a pumice stone to gently exfoliate your heels.
- Olive oil and lavender. Combine 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 2 to 3 drops of lavender oil, mix well, and apply to your cracked heels. Do this before going to bed, and put on cotton or wool socks.
A few other basic tips to help with dry cracked feet:
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration contributes to dry skin.
- Pat, pat, pat. Always pat your feet dry after a bath, shower, or swim.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. After every bath, shower, or swim, moisturize your feet. Let your feet absorb the moisturizer for about 15 minutes.
- Exfoliate. To help remove dry skin, you can use a pumice stone or loofah, but be gentle. It’s best to consult your healthcare provider before attempting to exfoliate, especially if your dry cracked skin is severe or you have diabetes or are elderly.
At the first sign of dry cracked feet, be sure to take action to prevent possible complications, such as bleeding, infection, and difficulty walking. All it takes is a few minutes to avoid and treat dry cracked feet.
Loden M et al. The influence of a humectant-rich mixture on normal skin barrier function and on once- and twice-daily treatment of foot xerosis. prospective, randomized, evaluator-blind, bilateral and untreated-control study. Skin Research and Technology 2013 Mar 22. Doi:10.1111/srt.12066