Compared to the skin covering the rest of our body, the skin on our feet is normally drier. This is because it lacks the sebaceous glands or oil glands that can keep it moisturized.
To compensate for this, the skin on our feet relies on the sweat glands to at least prevent it from becoming extremely dry. However, there are conditions wherein the skin on feet becomes severely dry it becomes cracked .
- Prolonged standing, walking, or running
- Excessive physical activity that involves frequent movement of the feet
- Back-open shoes that provide no protection to the sides of the feet
- Improper foot care and hygiene
- Obesity gives extra bearing to the already exhausted feet.
- Prolonged water exposure removes the moisture off of your feet.
- Soaps and cosmetic products containing harsh chemicals cause dryness and leave irritating substances on the skin. You think they help but it is actually the opposite. Gentle mild products are still better.
- Dry skin is one of the signs of aging. As we age, the outermost layer of the skin called stratum corneum gets thicker, resulting to lessened skin cell turnover. Moreover, fats that serve as a cushion to our toes and heels become thinner, decreasing its protective purpose.
- Deficiency of vitamin A, vitamin E, and essential fatty acids [omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)] contributes to unhealthy skin.
- Diabetes involves poor wound healing. Moreover, high levels of blood glucose increase the
number of microorganisms, making the infection more difficult to cure.
- Athelete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis) is the most common fungal skin infection. The fungi cause your toes to feel burning and itching sensations. Physically, these fungi deprive your feet of the nutrients that they need to be kept healthy, causing them to dry and crack.
- In Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema), Psoriasis, and other skin diseases, dry cracked skin is an inherent characteristic.
- Thyroid – Disease, in this case Hypothyroidism, contributes to skin dryness and cracking because depressed function of the thyroid gland leads to slow blood circulation. As a result, there are decreased nutrients and fatty acids that reach your feet. Additionally, the skin glands are also deprived of secretions needed to keep your skin hydrated.
- Neuropathy, also connected with diabetes, is also called nerve damage. One good thing about pain is that it is protective. It tells you that your body is in danger. When you feel it, you find measures on how to avoid it and prevent it from doing further damage. In the case of neuropathy, you cannot feel the pain. When your feet are dried and cracked, you will not notice it until you see it. This might be dangerous because by the time that you notice it, it may be too late especially if the damage is already deep it has already caused severe wound infection. This is not good news to diabetics [2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
Signs and Symptoms
- Skin tightness
- Skin dehydration
- Shrunken skin
- Appearance of fine lines
- Formation of flakes
- Bleeding fissures 
Home Remedies for Dry, Cracked Skin on Feet
- One of the simple and best cures for dried cracked feet is to use moisturizers after taking a bath in order to lock in the moisture. If your feet are extremely dry, you may use oil to decrease water evaporation from your skin. To prevent cracking, you may use creams to soften your skin and prevent forming fissures. Diabetics, however,
should watch out in using cosmetics because moisture on enclosed areas (i.e. toes) might lead to infection.
- Epsom salt promotes circulation to your feet. Its magnesium content removes toxins, promoting healthier skin. Put one half cup of Epsom salt into a lukewarm water. Soak your feet for 10 minutes. Rub the affected area with pumice stone. Put it back into the water for another 10 minutes. Pat it dry then apply petroleum jelly. Do this for two to three days.
- Lemon juice is a weak acid tolerable by the skin if soaked into it. It softens the dry and rough skin so that the affected area is easily scrubbed off when used with a foot brush or loofah. You may also want to try combining juice from a whole lemon with one teaspoon of Vaseline. Apply all of the mixture to the cracked areas. Cover your feet with wool stocks to preserve the moisturizing effect and prevent your bed sheets from staining. Do this every night before you go to sleep.
- Pour a cup of apple cider vinegar into a gallon of warm water. This makes a disinfectant wherein you can use to soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes. It is also said that this is relaxing for tired feet. Moisturize with lanolin products after gently patting it dry with a clean soft cloth.
- You can also use apple cider vinegar to create a homemade foot scrub. Mix a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or honey, a handful of rice flour, and one tablespoon of olive oil. This makes a thick paste which you can use to massage your feet. Rinse with warm water. Do this once or twice a week.
- After taking a night bath, apply vegetable oil on the affected areas. Cover your feet with clean socks. Do this every night before going to bed. Another natural treatment for dried cracked feet is the coconut oil. Coconut oil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, not to mention its moisturizing effects. Simply apply it to cracked areas of your feet and cover with socks.
- To create a homemade moisturizing cream for your cracked heels and toes, shake a combination of one tablespoon of olive oil and a few drops of lavender or lemon oil until thick and milky. Use whenever necessary.
- You can use an overripe banana to get rid of your dry, cracked skin on feet. Put an overripe banana and a half of avocado (optional) into a blender. This makes a homemade remedy that you can leave on the cracked feet for 15-20 minutes. Alternately wash it with lukewarm and cold water. Do this everyday.
- Combine one cup of ground oatmeal, one half cup of all-purpose flour, one-fourth cup of honey, and one-fourth cup of olive oil. Before applying the paste, soak your feet first in warm water. Leave the paste into the cracked areas of the feet for 30 minutes then wash it off with lukewarm water. Apply foot cream or moisturizer thereafter. Do this few times a week.
- Mix a tablespoon of powdered oatmeal and few drops of jojoba oil. This makes a homemade treatment which you can leave on for 30 minutes. Wash with cold water thereafter. Mentholated rub may help. It is also effective in healing toenail fungi. Wrap your foot with wet dressings every night. You may use clean wet socks covered by dry socks. This is done only in the absence of infection. Moisture attracts more microorganisms that could make the infection worse than it already is [1, 2, 8].
When to Consult a Doctor
Many might believe that they should consult a dermatologist when it comes to this matter but in fact, it is better to consult a podiatrist since they are the foot experts. Seek consultation if you have the following:
- If wounds, ulcers, or infections develop from the affected area
- If the affected area is expanding and continues to spread
- If there is a presence of other skin diseases
- If the condition is persistent despite of home treatment
- If the condition wakes you up at night and keeps you from sleeping well
- If the condition interferes with your activities of daily living 
How to get rid of Dry, Cracked Skin on Feet
Treat the underlying medical condition.
- Hydrocortisone cream can be used for severe skin itchiness and inflammation.
- Humectants (with alpha-hydroxy acid) such as glycerin and lactic acid promote moisturization and exfoliation (slaughing off of skin to replace it with newer skin cells).
- Emollients such as lanolin, urea, and silicon oils keep your skin from becoming severely dry by becoming a moisture barrier [2, 3].
- Hydrate yourself with plenty of water.
- Avoid staying in very hot or very cold weathers.
- Avoid steam baths and saunas.
- Avoid harsh soaps that could cause dryness of the skin. Simply use gentle soaps with moisturizers.
- Wear socks that are non-irritating to the skin, i.e. cotton.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Let your feet breathe. Never allow excessive sweating for your feet.
- Use a room humidifier if you stay in a place with low humidity. A hot, dry environment robs your skin of the proper moisture that it needs. Humidity prevents itchiness and flaking of your skin.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol which are thought to worsen the itchy sensation.
- Foods rich in omega-3, ALA, and GLA include halibut, salmon, sardines, and walnuts. Oils of safflower, flaxseed, canola, baroage, and evening primrose are also rich in these essential fatty acids. All of these help to lock in the moisture into your skin.
- Foods rich in vitamins A and E such as carrots, kale, olive oil, anchovies, and almonds keep your skin healthy [1, 2, 3, 7].