How to deal with dry skin and chapped feet


Do you have dry, cracked skin on your feet? If yes, then you are not alone. Dry and cracked feet are a common foot problem.

Dry skin, also known as xerosis , can be just a cosmetic problem. Or it can lead to symptoms like itching , rashes, or even pain and infection.

Sometimes dry skin occurs in various areas of the body as part of an underlying health problem. But in other cases, only the feet are affected, resulting in cracked skin or calluses on the heels or soles of the feet.

Get Medical Information / Jessica Olah

Ultimately, dryness and cracking occur when there is a lack of moisture in the skin. However, you may need detective work to determine the causes.

This article explains the causes and treatments for dry feet. It also details how to care for dry feet at home.

Environmental factors

Things your body comes in contact with can dry out your feet. Environmental factors can include:

  • Heat and humidity : The inside of your shoes can get very hot, sometimes well above 120 F. This heat and humidity can cause your skin to lose moisture and thicken.
  • Skin cleansers – Some soaps can remove protective oils from your skin. They can also leave irritating residue that contributes to dry skin.
  • Cold weather : dry skin is often worse during the winter months. This is because the cooler outside air is less humid. In addition, the internal heating dries the indoor air even more.

Skin diseases

Certain skin conditions can cause dryness and thickening of the skin on the feet. These conditions include:

In children, atopic dermatitis ( eczema ) is a common cause of dry, flaky skin on the legs.

Medical conditions

Certain health conditions and nutritional deficiencies can make your feet dry and cracked. This includes:

Conditions that cause poor absorption of nutrients from your diet, such as Crohn 's disease or celiac disease , can lead to vitamin and essential fatty acid deficiencies.


Due to changes in hormones and metabolism as we age, the body is less likely to replace skin cells. These changes lead to an increase in the thickness of the outer layer of the skin.

Additionally, the sole's protective fat pad thins with age. As you lose that cushioning in the heel and ball of the foot, your skin becomes tighter, resulting in cracked and rough skin.


Sensitivities, allergies, skin conditions, illness, nutritional deficiencies, and aging can all cause dry feet.

Care and prevention

Dry feet can often be hydrated at home. To soothe and prevent dry, chapped skin on your feet, consider using:

  • Foot Cream : Use a daily foot cream, preferably one that contains alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or urea. AHA helps exfoliate dead skin cells and helps the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) retain moisture. Examples of AHAs include glycolic acid and lactic acid .
  • Lanolin – On rough or cracked skin areas, try applying lanolin , which acts as an effective moisture barrier. You can buy lanolin without a prescription at any pharmacy. It is commonly known as a nursing parent product, although you can use it on any form of dry, cracked skin.
  • Hypoallergenic Products – If you are prone to allergies or skin sensitivities, be sure to use products designed for sensitive skin .
  • File or pumice stone : For rough areas on the soles of your feet, use a file or pumice stone after bathing or soaking your feet. This procedure is very effective in preventing the formation of calluses on the plants. For dry skin on the tops of feet and legs, use a loofah or skin scrub.

When to call a doctor

Most of the time, dry feet are not a cause for concern. However, if you notice the following signs of infection, you should see your doctor:

  • Redness or warmth
  • Swelling
  • Hot
  • Cracked skin pus

Watch out

Callused, cracked and dry feet can be improved with creams or lotions. However, if they persist even with home treatment, you should see a podiatrist to evaluate them.

A podiatrist can identify and treat the causes of dry skin, such as athlete's foot or eczema. They can also prescribe stronger medicated creams.

Also, podiatrists can safely remove corns and calluses . Managing other foot conditions can help prevent future problems such as skin pain and wounds.


Environmental factors, aging, and certain health conditions can lead to dry feet. Corns on the feet can be susceptible to home treatments such as creams, pumice stones and switching to products for sensitive skin. Otherwise, an orthopedist will help you with diagnosis and treatment.

Related Articles
Foods to Avoid If You Have Dry Mouth From Radiation

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a common side effect of radiation therapy for people undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer. Read more

Thyroid adenoma: Causes, Treatment, and Diagnosis

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your throat that produces hormones affecting a number of Read more

NSAIDs and You Thyroid Function

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most frequently taken over-the-counter medications. Due to their systemic or whole body effects, it's Read more

How Doctors Are Failing Thyroid Disease Patients

The thyroid disease community has continually mentioned the lack of support they experience and the difficulty they have navigating the Read more