How to Get Rid of Dry, Cracked Feet

Many people want their feet to look beautiful. Others are just content with their feet being “serviceable.” In either case, dry and cracked skin is something to pay attention to.

Not only does dryness look rough and unseemly, but it can also lead to itchiness, discomfort, cracks, and sometimes pain. And the more you stand on cracked feet without proper treatment, the worse and more painful those cracks can become. 

Dry feet are common, and can happen for a variety of reasons ranging from environmental factors to medical conditions such as athlete’s foot. In many cases, however, it is often easy to get rid of dry, cracked skin with simple home treatments. 

We’ll provide some simple tips here. But if home treatments aren’t working well, you are in significant pain, or you have any other complications that make professional help preferrable (especially if you have diabetes), please don’t hesitate to contact our office. We’ll be happy to provide you the expert care you need.

Make a Habit of Moisturizing

If your feet aren’t getting enough moisture naturally, you’ll have to bring the moisture to them.

There are many products available to help soothe dry, cracked feet. We can help you determine some potential best products for your specific needs, but general ingredients to look for include:

  • Shea butter
  • Aloe
  • Salicylic acid
  • Urea
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (e.g. glycolic acid and lactic acid)

These types of ingredients can help exfoliate dead skin cells, improve general appearance, and increase absorption of moisture into the skin.

If you want to go with luxurious scents and other additions, they are typically fine as long as they provide the base moisturizing benefits you need without any added complications. Avoid anything containing alcohol, as it will likely dry out your skin further. And if you want no-frills help, petroleum jelly and baby oil can often be effective on their own.

The ideal time to apply moisturizing lotions, creams, or ointments is after a shower or bath, when your feet are more receptive to them. After a hearty application, put on a pair of old cotton socks and wear them overnight. (If you bathe during the day, you can get similar results by wearing the socks around the house for just a few hours before removing the socks and rinsing your feet. We don’t recommend spending all day squishing around in moisturizer.)

Use a Pumice Stone

A pumice stone – when used properly – can help remove dry, dead skin and leave new skin more accessible to moisturizing.

A good pumice stone should be 100% natural. You might not always know what is in a synthetically made stone. A stone with larger pores will provide more intense exfoliation, while a stone with smaller pores will be gentler. It will come down to what you are most comfortable using.

Before using a stone, soak your feet in warm water for 10-15 minutes to soften the skin. If you want to add salts or oils to the soak, remember not to add anything that may cause further dryness or irritation.

After soaking, wet the stone and gently rub it over dry areas in a circular motion. The goal is not to get all of the dry skin off in one go, but to pare down your dry skin over time. Rubbing too much or too hard at once can cause sores and break your skin. 

Gently pat your feet dry after each session, then apply lotion. Rinse off your stone with warm water after every use, and periodically clean with an old toothbrush and dish soap. We also recommend boiling it in water for 5 minutes now and then and letting it air dry to remove any potential bacterial or fungal buildup.

Check Over External Factors

Sometimes the cause of dry feet can be traced back to certain environmental factors and choices. Address them and your feet can start looking and feeling better much sooner.

Review the following:

  • Do you enjoy taking steaming hot baths or showers? Turn down the temperature. Exposure to very hot water can actually draw moisture out of your skin.
  • Do you spend a lot of time in humid, closed-off shoes? Somewhat similar to hot showers, hot and humid environments in your footwear can also remove moisture from your skin. Try more “breathable” shoes and socks, if you are able.
  • What type of soap are you using? If it contains sodium lauryl sulfate or a bunch of artificial fragrances, it might be drying you out. Try switching to a more natural soap and seeing if that has any effect on your skin, and make sure all soap is washed off your feet no matter what type you are using.
  • Do you hydrate enough? It can never be said too many times to drink enough water. 6-8 glasses per day is a typical recommendation, but always get a drink when you’re thirsty and you may find yourself much better off.

What if Nothing is Getting Rid of My Dry Feet?

If your feet continue to suffer from dryness, irritation, and cracks, then something else might be at play. You may have a skin infection, a poor reaction to certain medications, or simply require more professional-grade help to address your problem.

Dr. Danciger will gladly help you get to the root of any skin condition or problem and recommend an ideal course of treatment to meet your needs. 

Call (760) 568-0108 to schedule an appointment at our Palm Desert office.

Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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