Unlike the rest of the skin on our bodies, the skin on our feet is naturally dry. This is because they have no oil glands and are reliant on sweat glands to provide moisture.
While dry feet or cracked heels may not seem like a significant problem, if left untreated it can lead to painful fissures or openings, fungal infections, and ulcerations. This is especially true for those with medical conditions like diabetes or athlete's foot, which dry your feet out even more. Dry feet and cracked heels are also more prevalent among seniors.
With proper attention however, dry feet and cracked heels can be effectively managed.
What Are The Causes?
Dry feet and cracked heels are typically caused by other medical complications, old age, or dry air. Other common factors that cause dry feet and cracked heels are:
Hot showers or baths
Eczema, Psoriasis, or other skin conditions that dry out the skin
Various non-moisturizing soaps
Extended exposure to low humidity levels and/or the sun
Cold, winter air
What Are The Symptoms
In addition to simply feeling like your feet are dry, some other symptoms include:
Flaky and/or peeling skin
Rash (often caused by itching)
Cracks in the heels (fissures)
Bleeding caused by fissures
Diabetics and others with neuropathy (lack of feeling) are more susceptible to these symptoms, yet are less likely to notice them due to the lack of feeling they experience. If you have diabetes or neuropathy, you should be checking your feet daily to make sure any changes don't go unnoticed.
Who Should I See About My Dry Feet and Cracked Heels?
Because dry feet and cracked heels are a skin issue, most people assume a dermatologist is the best doctor to address the problem. However, while a dermatologist might suffice, a podiatrist is likely the best option. Not only are they specially trained to care for your feet and ankles, but they also have dermatology training to help with skin conditions like dry feet, cracked heels, athletes foot, warts, callouses, etc.
Regardless of what kind of doctor you prefer to see, the most important thing is to address the problem.
If you have concerns about dry feet or cracked heels, we would be more than happy to help. Give us a call at (612) 788-8778 to schedule an appointment.
Treatment and Prevention for Dry Feet and Cracked Heels
Ideally, the goal is to prevent dry feet and cracked heels to begin with.
To treat dry feet and cracked heels, most doctors will steer you towards conservative treatments like therapeutic oils, ointments, or creams. Lotions, however, are not typically recommended because most of them contain alcohol which only further dries out the skin.
Additional treatments for dry feet and cracked heels include:
Topical creams have been studied and documented as the best treatment for dry feet. Look for creams that use keratolytic and humectant agents containing urea, salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids, saccharide isomerate, and petroleum jelly
Mild moisturizing soaps
Bandages or coverings, like socks (clean, not dirty), help moisturizing agents to work more effectively, prevent moisture loss, and act as a barrier against bacteria growth
Other home remedies such as spearmint, eucalyptus oil, and pumice stones can also be effective. You should always consult with your doctor before trying these or any other home remedies
Ask Your Doctor
It's always a good idea to have a few questions in mind before going to see the doctor. Some questions you may want to ask include:
Are there any over-the-counter products that can help?
Which home remedies, if any, would you recommend?
What prescription products does your practice offer?
Is there anything I can do in my home to help prevent dry feet or cracked heels?