How to deal with dry skin on the feet

Dry skin on the feet has been an issue that many individuals experience at one point or another. Oftentimes, dry skin can occur on different areas of the body, secondary to other health issues. In case only the feet are affected, it results to cracked calluses or skin on the heels or soles of the feet.

Dry skin or xerosis might only be a cosmetic issue or it might lead to symptoms such as skin rashes, itchiness or even pain and secondary infection. Other skin conditions that cause dry, thickened skin include leg vein issues, athlete’s foot, psoriasis and skin rashes caused by irritants or allergy. The usual cause of dry, scaly skin and accentuated skin lines on the feet is called as atopic dermatitis.

Common causes of dry skin

  • Physical stress in which the environment within a shoe can become very warm, oftentimes over 120 degrees can cause dry skin. The changes in the heat and humidity can lead to water loss from the skin and results to thickening of the upper skin layer.
  • Certain skin cleansers and soaps can strip away the protective oil from the skin or leave behind irritating residues that contribute to dry skin.
  • Certain health conditions such as hypothyroidism, diabetes and malnutrition can cause dry skin.
  • Cold weather can aggravate dry skin, usually due to indoor heating and low humidity level.
  • As an individual starts to age, there are metabolic and hormonal changes that reduce the skin cell turnover, resulting to the thickening of the outermost skin layer. In addition, the protective fat pad on the sole of the foot thins out. The loss of cushioning in the heel and ball of the foot increases skin stress, resulting to callused, cracked skin.

Other skin conditions that cause dry, thickened skin include leg vein issues, athlete’s foot, psoriasis and skin rashes caused by irritants or allergy.

Treatment of dry skin

Once the feet have cracked skin, calluses, wounds or dry skin that does not improve using lotions or creams, a doctor should be consulted in order to identify and manage secondary causes of dry skin such as eczema or athlete’s foot.

Corns and calluses can be removed safely by a podiatrist in order to improve the appearance of the feet as well as prevent upcoming issues such as skin wounds and pain. In addition, cases of severely dry skin might require the use of prescription creams.

Useful tips to keep the feet healthy

  • A foot cream should be applied daily if possible one that includes alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). Take note it helps remove dead skin and improve the retention of moisture in the skin.
  • When dealing with cracked or rough areas of skin, you can apply lanolin which acts a moisture barrier. Lanolin is available over-the-counter and can be used for any form of dry, chapped skin.
  • For rough skin on the soles of the feet, you can utilize a pumice stone or foot file after bathing or soaking the feet. This routine is highly effective in keeping calluses from building up on the soles. As for dry skin on the top of the feet as well as on the legs, use an exfoliating skin product or loofah sponge.


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