Toenail Pain [Toenail Fungus, Ingrown Toenails, Discolored Toenails]
Dry Cracked Feet[With Cuts, Fungus, Foot Soaks & Home Remedies]
What causes dry, cracked feet? We review dry, cracked feet with cuts, with fungus, the BEST foot soaks & dry, cracked feet home remedies!
Table of Contents
Medical dry feet pedicure & podiatrist treatment near me:
If you are in Michigan, consider seeing us for your dry, cracked feet!
It is not normal to have cracked, bleeding, or painful feet. See a podiatrist if you have dry, cracked feet with cuts, diabetes, fungus, or pain!
Dry, cracked feet can be dangerous, and foot treatment is generally covered by major insurance plans if there is pain or danger to your feet.
Why are my feet so dry and cracked?
How do you get dry, cracked heels and skin with cuts or fungus? Dry skin is the number one culprit in creating cracked heels. Many athletes, walkers, joggers, and even swimmers suffer from cracked heels. Age and skin oil production play a role in getting cracked heels as well.
Dry and cracked skin of feet is characterized by:
- Cracking skin of feet due to dryness
- Cracks and fissures may appear on the heel.
- Cracked heels resulting from dry skin are often accompanied by thickened skin or sometimes yellow or brown callus formation due to expansion of fat pad under the heels.
- Dry cracked feet with cuts.
- Dry cracked feet fungus.
- Dry and cracked feet
What causes dry, cracked feet?
The skin of feet contains only fewer natural oil-producing glands. Furthermore, they are under extreme stress due to constant pressure and weight of the body resulting in a repeated wear and tear phenomenon. There are many reasons for the dry and cracked appearance on the skin of feet. It may be due to excessive dryness and lack of skin hydration that simply can be treated by a moisturizer or due to a medical condition associated with it. Cracks can also disrupt the skin barrier, which may lead to infections if they remain untreated.
Dry and cracked feet are widespread among all ages and genders. For most people, it isn’t serious, and for others, it causes embarrassment in public if wearing open shoes or cracks, if deep, which may cause pain. In severe cases, it may become infected.
Why are my feet dry and cracked symptoms:
Dryness appears mostly between the toes, on the sides of the feet, or the heels. The affected area may feel:
- Dry, cracked feet with cuts
- Dry, cracked feet fungus
- Dry and cracked feet
If dry and cracked skin of feet remains untreated, it may cause:
- Infection (fever, pain, redness, swelling, warmth)
What to do for dry, cracked feet & risk factors:
Older age and decreased skin moisture. The key is to identify these factors and try to limit them:
- Extremes of temperature
- Taking frequent and long hot showers
- Swimming in chlorinated pools
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes such as open-back shoes or friction from the back of shoes or walking around barefoot on the ground
- Occupations that require feet immersion in water, such as laundryman
- Occupations that require you to be on your feet for long hours such as doctors, nurses, hairstylists, field workers, etc
- A poor way of walking
- Having calluses
How to fix dry, cracked feet based on the cause:
The best way to fix dry, cracked feet is to find out what specifically causes them and reverse the cause if possible.
What to use for dry, cracked feet? Over-the-counter medicines and prescription medicines such as creams and lotions can help, especially those who need instant relief or suffer from chronic dry feet. In addition to using the treatments found below, several other ways to promote healing for dry and cracked heels.
Similarly, wearing socks with medicated creams helps lock in moisture so it can stay on longer. In addition, applying moisturizer both day and night will help alleviate dryness which causes cracking. And, you can use pumice stones to remove dead skin. Then you can massage cream onto your foot. Removing the dead skin allows the cream to be absorbed.
Cracked heels can become painful if left untreated. To learn more, consult with one of our podiatrists from Prime foot & ankle specialists.
Dry skin isn’t usually serious. In most cases, it’s caused by environmental factors, but sometimes it may become serious if associated with a medical ailment. Causes of dry skin of feet include:
Dry skin is called ‘Xerosis cutis’ in medical terms. Feet have fewer oil-producing glands than the rest of the body, so they experience more dryness. Dryness causes a decrease in cellular water content of the superficial layer of skin. The outer layer of skin acts as a barrier and protects against water loss through the skin surface and infectious agents, allergens, chemicals, etc. Feet are also neglected most of the time while pampering the rest of the body resulting in dryness and a constant wear and tear phenomenon leading to dry, flaky, and cracked feet.
- Cold weather:
When combined with indoor heating, cold temperature and low humidity deplete the skin of moisture, causing dryness and cracking.
- Hot weather:
High temperature, central heating, wood-burning stoves, space heaters, and fireplaces reduce air humidity and decrease cellular water content causing skin dehydration and dryness.
- Hot baths:
Frequent and long hot showers or swimming in chlorinated pools withdraw moisture from the skin causing skin dryness.
- Sun exposure:
In summers, foot-wears are usually open, or people go barefoot out in the sun. This increases the exposure of skin to the sun. Furthermore, while using sunscreen, feet are neglected most of the time, which further increases the risk of skin dehydration and loss of cellular moisture leading to dryness.
Standing for a longer duration, especially on hard floors, poor posture, or walking barefoot, causes constant pressure and friction on the skin of feet and repeated wear and tear. This causes the skin to thicken and harden, skin becomes dry and cracked, or may cause callus formation.
Heavy body weight puts constant pressure on the fat pad beneath the feet, expanding it sideways, decreasing the cushioning effect responsible for holding up our body. Therefore, they withstand a tremendous amount of pressure. It becomes less elastic and rigid and more prone to fissures and cracking if the skin is dry.
- As age advances, skin loses its ability to regenerate due to hormonal and metabolic changes in the body, causing thinning and reduced skin elasticity.
- Cellular water retention is decreased, skin becomes thin and lax.
- With aging, the fat pad under the soles of feet provides cushioning function is thinned out, leading to increased stress, and skin becomes dry and cracked.
Certain products such as soaps, cleansers, body washes, scrubs, household cleaners, etc., contain harsh chemicals that strip the skin of moisture, causing skin irritation and dryness.
Certain medicines such as diuretics can cause dry skin on the feet.
- Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis):
It is a fungal infection between the toes and toenails caused by candida or mold-like fungi called dermatophytes that feed on dead skin and nails. It occurs due to excessive sweating. The fungus survives in the moisture, warmth, and dark environment between the toes and the damp socks and shoes’ insides, which provide a welcoming environment for fungal growth and infection.
Fungal infections of the feet are common among those with weakened immune systems (diabetics) or those who spend most of the time in the damp areas (such as swimmers, athletes).
Athlete’s foot usually produces itchy, dry, and scaly skin. In severe cases, inflammation, cracks, and blisters may form.
- Exfoliative dermatitis:
It is also called erythroderma, which causes the superficial layer of skin to exfoliate. It involves 90% or more of the body area.
- Tight skin
- Cracked patches
- Scaly patches
- Thin or glossy skin
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails.
It can be due to:
- any previously existing skin condition
- medications(such as penicillin, barbiturates, phenytoin, isoniazid, sulfa drugs, anti-hypertensives) or
- even cancer( leukemias, lymphomas, etc.).
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema):
It is the inflammation of the skin(dermis) and can occur anywhere on the body. The cause of eczema is still unknown, but genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. Females are twice affected as men.
- Dry and cracked skin
- Itchy patches on the skin
It may be triggered by:
- Dry skin
- Excess sweat
- Excess heat
- Loss of Humidity
Applying a cold compress can soothe the skin. If it worsens, the doctor may prescribe topical medications to prevent dryness and promote skin hydration. Steroids are also a treatment option.
It is a chronic autoimmune condition (the body starts attacking its own cells ) in which cellular turnover increases, causing the buildup of dead cells. It can occur anywhere on the body, mostly on the extensor surfaces such as the scalp, elbows, knees, and back. It can also include feet and toes. Joints can also become swollen and stiff.
It causes dry, thick, scaly, and itchy patches of skin. It worsens by infection, stress, and cold weather conditions.
It is treated topically with foot creams for dry, cracked feet or lotions for dry, cracked feet containing tar, salicylic acid, or steroids, or the doctor may prescribe oral medications.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that control the metabolic rate, blood pressure, nervous system, cardiovascular system, muscular functions, tissue growth, regulation of glandular activity of the body, etc. When the functioning of the thyroid gland is impaired, there’s decreased activity of sweat glands, causing extreme dryness of the body, including feet, due to decreased ability of the body to perspire. If the skin of your feet or heels becomes dry, cracked, or flaky, or you experience additional symptoms like weight gain, numbness of hands, vision problems, etc., it may be a warning sign of a thyroid condition.
In uncontrolled or prolonged diabetes:
- damage to blood vessels called peripheral artery disease or
- nerve damage of feet and hands called diabetic neuropathy occurs.
- Uncontrolled diabetics are more likely to get infections of feet that take too long to heal and cracked heels.
Peripheral artery disease in people with diabetes occurs due to damage to blood vessels which causes narrowing of arteries and insufficient blood supply to limbs. Fine toe hairs are present in both men and women. If you’re losing a little bit of hair, or if they’ve gone completely bald, it is a sign of poor blood flow. It needs immediate medical treatment and lifestyle modifications such as quitting smoking, maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and managing other health conditions, like hypertension or diabetes, that can contribute to the condition.
Neuropathy also affects nerves that regulate sweat and sebaceous glands leading to dry and cracked feet. Symptoms of neuropathy include:
- Delayed wound healing
- Weakness of feet, legs, and hands
- Burning of extremities
Dietary deficiency of certain micro and macronutrients such as vitamin A, essential fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid & gamma-linolenic acid. Other conditions in which malabsorption is due to digestive tract diseases such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease(ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), etc., can cause nutrients and vitamin deficiency.
- Hormonal fluctuations:
Estrogen helps the body retain its natural moisture and starts to decline during menopause and peri-menopause. Lack of estrogen causes dryness, itching, bumps, or rashes on the skin and a range of skin complaints during menopause, such as hot flushes, sweating, and itchiness.
- Sjogren’s syndrome:
An autoimmune disorder that causes skin dryness. Other symptoms include:
- Swelling and tenderness of glands around face, neck, armpits, and groin
- Joint pains
- Body aches
- Dry skin
- Dryness of nose, ear, and throat
- Vaginal dryness
- Bowel irritation
- Juvenile plantar dermatosis:
The feet’ common and chronic dry skin condition is characterized by dryness, mostly affecting pre-adolescent children.
- Palmoplantar keratoderma:
It is a group of skin conditions characterized by thickening of the skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
- Venous stasis dermatitis:
It is skin inflammation in the lower legs caused by fluid build-up
- Down’s syndrome:
It is a condition in which a child is born with an extra copy of the 21st chromosome hence called trisomy 21. It causes physical disabilities and mental developmental delays.
How to diagnose & how to heal dry, cracked feet?
Diagnosis of cracked skin is made by taking careful history so that the doctor might get a clue about the possible causative factors, detailed examination, and relevant investigations.
The doctor may ask the following questions:
- When did the symptoms first appear?
- For how long have are these symptoms present?
- Does the area feel warm or itchy?
- Does the lesion bleed, or does pus come out?
- Have you recently changed your skincare products?
- Are these worsening with time?
- Are these symptoms severe enough to disturb your daily life activities or sleep?
- Are there any factors that exacerbate these symptoms, and what factors alleviate your symptoms?
- Do you have any allergies?
- Does anyone else in your family is suffering from such a condition?
- Do you have any other diseases?
A doctor may take a skin sample of the affected area to reach a definitive diagnosis and advise a treatment plan accordingly.
What is the treatment of dry and cracked feet?
The best treatment for dry and cracked feet is to moisturize the feet regularly with lotions, creams, or alcohol-free oil and avoid factors that cause dryness or loss of skin moisture.
Cracked skin, if without any associated skin disorder, can easily be treated at home:
Home remedies for dry, cracked feet:
Best foot soak for dry, cracked feet:
Soaking feet in warm water soothes the dry skin and improves blood circulation, which can prevent dryness. Ingredients of foot soak can be:
- Epsom salt
- Lemon juice
- Peppermint essential oil
- Humectants: urea, aloe vera, and hyaluronic acid
- Emollients that contain plant butter and oil
- Occlusives: petrolatum, lanolin, and coconut oil
Soaking feet in warm water for 15-20 mins twice daily and then exfoliation of dead skin. Exfoliating agents can be either:
- by mixing honey and sugar
- foot filer
- pumice stone
- salicylic acid
- Alpha-hydroxy acids( glycolic acid and lactic acid). The alpha-hydroxy acids aid in sloughing off the dead skin cells and increase moisture retention in the superficial layer of the ski
These ingredients help soften the skin by removing dead skin. These ingredients can also cause irritation or stinging.
Types of foot soak:
Listerine foot soaks for dry, cracked feet.
Listerine has been studied and shown to be effective in treating foot fungus. Listerine has antibacterial and antifungal qualities when treating the skin.
Vinegar soaks for dry, cracked feet.
Vinegar for dry, cracked heels:
Most people typically use apple cider vinegar or regular vinegar as a cooking ingredient. Research does show that vinegar can be effective against fungus and bacteria.
Using apple cider vinegar on dry, cracked heels is useful in treating and providing a home remedy for dry and cracked heels.
Cracked heels vinegar treatment ingredients:
1/3rd white vinegar mixed with 2/3rds of warm water can be used as a soak for the feet.
Apple cider vinegar is another type of vinegar that is useful against cracked heels. And, when mixed 1/3rd apple cider vinegar with two parts, warm water can create another soak for the feet to remedy dry skin.
A pumice stone can be used to scrub the dead skin after soaking for 20-25 minutes.
Exfoliate after the vinegar soak:
You can also mix white vinegar with warm water and sheer or cocoa butter to create a mixture that can be rubbed onto the heels.
Cracked heels are unappealing, and they make it harder for you to walk around in sandals.
Best foot cream for dry, cracked feet:
After foot soak and exfoliation, wash feet with mild soap and dry thoroughly. Moisturizers such as those containing coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil, glycerin, vitamin E, jojoba, or aloe vera should be applied regularly. Paraffin wax can also be used to seal in moisture. The skin doesn’t absorb pThe skin doesn’t absorb petroleum jelly, but it helps prevent superficial skin dryness and keeps it moisturized.
They penetrate the skin and reduce water loss from skin. They make the skin soft and smooth by filling the cracks.
They penetrate the outer layer of skin, increase the water retention in the skin and maintain skin hydration and moisture. They attract moisture from the air. In dry conditions, they draw moisture from the lower skin layers instead of the atmosphere, resulting in more dehydrated skin overall. These are Urea, aloe-vera, Hyaluronic acid, etc.
- If application and absorption of emollient or humectant, occlusive moisturizer can be applied to lock in moisture. They have a thick formulation, so a thick coat is formed on the skin’s superficial layer, preventing moisture evaporation. They work well to lock in moisture but are very sticky, greasy, and messy. Examples of occlusive moisturizers include:
- Petroleum jelly
- Mineral oil
- Silicones, such as dimethicone
- Heel balms / Keratolytic agents:
When the skin of heels is thickened and flaky due to dryness, applying a keratolytic may help. They thin down the thickened skin by loosening the outer layer and removing dead skin cells, allowing the skin to retain more moisture. Heel balms can be applied that contain both the keratolytic and humectant agents. These substances include:
- Alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic acid and glycolic acid.
- Salicylic acid
- Urea (Both keratolytic and humectant)
- Saccharide isomerate
- Foot mask:
Honey has natural anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties. It is a good moisturizer and is used for healing wounds. Regular application of foot masks made by mixing honey and few drops of almond oil may treat dry skin and prevent infections.
- Liquid bandage:
If cracked heels are bleeding or painful, a liquid bandage Is advised to ease the pain. It is applied to clean and dry skin. It seals the wound and prevents infection and further cracking by holding the edges of cracks. It comes as a spray and helps treat deep wounds.
Super glues can also be used to treat cracks.
Cracks that are worsening can be treated by a silicone heel cup placed inside the shoe to provide extra protection and moisture.
- Wear close shoes to prevent dryness and contact with irritants and allergens
- Use gentle skincare products.
When to see a doctor?
If the dry skin isn’t improving with home remedies, worsening with time, or following symptoms appear, medical aid is required.
- Dry skin isn’t improving with moisturizing creams or lotions
- Diabetes dry, cracked feet
- dehydrated cracked feet
- dry, cracked feet with cuts
- dry, cracked feet with fungus
- Cracked skin
- Dry, cracked, itchy feet
- Severe dry, cracked feet
- Pus or blood oozing out from the dry areas.
Whom to see?
If you aren’t aware of the causative factors of dry skin, you may seek the help of a doctor, a dermatologist, or a podiatrist. Avoid treating cracked feet and heels on your own if there is an associated systemic condition or when cracks are severe. Because in such cases, evaluation by a healthcare professional is required.
If the condition is specifically involving the feet, then a podiatrist is the best person as he is uniquely qualified and specifically trained among all healthcare professionals in treating all conditions involving the foot.
Podiatrist dry and cracked feet treatment:
The best treatment for dry, cracked feet with cuts or with fungus:
The doctor may prescribe the following treatment depending upon the cause:
- Foot balms: Foot balm for skin nourishment and moisturization.
- Skin Softeners: Stronger softening substances or de-scaling agents such as Urea, Salicylic acid, etc
- Footwear: Appropriate footwear to decrease pressure on feet
- Shoe inserts: Insoles such as heel pads or cups to support and provide cushioning effect to heels and prevent the fat pad from expanding sideways.
- Liquid bandages: Liquid bandages or tissue glues hold the skin together, increase healing, ease pain and prevent infections.
- Strapping: Foot and ankle strapping or around the heels with dressing or bandage to reduce skin movement.
- Mechanical debridement: Remove dead skin and thick calluses using a scalpel blade to reduce skin build-up and promote skin moisture.
- Antibiotics: If the infection is present, the doctor may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic.
- Antifungals: if dryness or cracked feet are due to fungal infection, the doctor may prescribe anti-fungal sprays or ointment such as itraconazole or terbinafine, etc.
How to get rid of dry, cracked feet & prevention:
Prevention of dry skin can be done by taking care of skin and improving overall health. Some tips include:
How to treat dry, cracked feet hygiene:
- Maintain good foot hygiene. Regularly exfoliate, dry, and moisturize the skin of feet. Gently pat dry with a towel instead of rubbing vigorously.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Wash foot with a mild soap. Avoid harsh, fragranced, or strong chemicals containing skincare products to prevent skin dryness or irritation.
- Filing your heels also removes the thick layers of calluses and dry, flaky skin so that the moisturizer can be better absorbed into the dry skin.
- Change sweaty or damp clothing regularly.
Use the best lotion for dry, cracked feet:
- Apply a generous amount of foot cream at night and put on socks made of cotton or wool. Remove the socks and rinse the feet, next morning.
- Use heel moisturizer twice daily to prevent heel cracking or dryness and increase the skin’s elasticity on heels. The main ingredients of a good moisturizer should be urea, alpha hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, saccharide isomerate, and humectant.
- During winters, apply thick moisturizers such as petroleum jelly as it locks in moisturize and acts as a barrier to cold weather conditions.
- Wear sunscreen while going out to prevent feet dryness and sunburns.
- Use special tape or braces that hold the fissures together to close and heal the cracked heels.
- Avoid frequent and prolonged hot showers. Use lukewarm water. Pat dry skin after the bath instead of towel as rubbing it strips of the skin moisture.
- Use essential oil( peppermint, lavender, chamomile, tea-tree, etc.)diluted in carrier oils (almond oil) in the bathing water to prevent feet dryness.
- Moisturize the feet when they’re slightly wet as it locks the moisture into the skin. Use a hypoallergenic moisturizer.
Footwear dry, cracked feet remedy:
- Wear supportive and well-fitting shoes to prevent pressure on feet. Wearing shoes with a closed heel can help heal, prevent cracks to the back of the feet, and support the problematic area.
- Avoid shoes with open backs, like sandals and flip-flops, thin soles, or tight shoes as they make cracked heels worse.
- Wear socks made up of good quality or natural fabric such as cotton or wool as they reduce friction and soak up sweat and moisture, allowing the skin to breathe and help prevent the skin from drying out.
- Wear shoes with shock absorption ability so that you aren’t standing on a hard surface all day. Special orthotic shoe inserts with heel cups help keep the skin from cracking more when you walk or stand by redistributing the body weight.
- Use silicon heel cups to keep the heel moisturized and help prevent the heel pad from expanding.
- Wear shoes or protective foot-gears to prevent contact with chemical irritants and allergens
How to cure dry, cracked feet with cuts:
- Avoid standing for too long.
- Use an air humidifier in cold weather to prevent dryness of skin
- Regularly inspect your feet for any skin change
- Have a good diet, including the required proportion of micro and macronutrients. (diet with essential fatty acids to help moisturize the feet)
- Lose weight if you’re obese to reduce pressure on feet and prevent the fat pad beneath the heels from expanding sideways.
- If you have diabetes or suffer from other associated skin conditions, regularly visit the doctor for follow-up.
- Maintain adequate circulation of feet by exercising regularly at least 30 mins daily, putting your feet up while sitting, and avoid sitting in one place for too long.
- See a podiatrist for your dry, cracked feet with cuts, your dry, cracked feet with fungus, and for severely dry, cracked feet with pain.
What are the complications of dry and cracked feet with cuts or fungus?
It is usually harmless but may cause complications if it remains untreated for a long time:
- Prolonged pain
- Dry, cracked feet with cuts can worsen and cause significant pain.
- Infection: Cracks disrupt the normal skin barrier, and bacteria can invade, causing open skin wounds. This is called cellulitis. This must be treated with the elevation of the area, debridement of dead tissue, and antibiotics.
- Dry, cracked feet fungus can worsen and cause toenail fungus and pain.
- If you have diabetes, the deep cracks can lead to diabetic foot ulcers.