How to Cope With Dry Skin and Cracks on Your Feet

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

Dry skin, also known as xerosis, may just be a cosmetic problem. Alternatively, it can cause itching, rashes, and even symptoms like pain and infection.

Occasionally, dry skin develops on multiple areas of the body as part of an underlying health problem. But other times, only the feet are affected, resulting in cracked skin or calluses on the heels or soles of the feet.

Ultimately, when the skin lacks moisture, dryness and cracking occur. However, you may need to do some detective work to determine the cause.

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

envirnmental factor

Physical contact with things can cause your feet to dry out. Environmental factors may include:

  • Heat and humidity: The inside of your shoes can get very hot—sometimes over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat and humidity can cause your skin to lose moisture and thicken.
  • Skin Cleanser: Certain soaps can remove protective oils from the skin. They also leave an irritating residue that causes dry skin.
  • Cold Weather: Dry skin tends to worsen in winter. That’s because cooler outdoor air has lower humidity. In addition, indoor heating further dries indoor air.

Do you know what causes your dry skin?

skin condition

Certain skin conditions can cause dry, thickened skin on the feet. These conditions include:

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  • athlete’s foot (Tinea pedis)
  • psoriasis
  • rash caused by allergies or irritants (contact dermatitis)
  • leg vein problems (called venous stasis)

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

medical condition

Certain health conditions and nutritional deficiencies can cause dry and chapped feet. These include:

  • diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • malnutrition
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • essential fatty acid deficiency

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


Due to hormonal and metabolic changes as you age, your body replaces skin cells less frequently. These changes cause the outermost layer of the skin to thicken.

Additionally, the protective fat pads on the soles of the shoes thin out with age. When you lose this cushioning in the heels and balls of your feet, your skin becomes more tense, leading to cracks and calluses.

How aging affects your feet


Sensitivity, allergies, skin conditions, medical conditions, nutritional deficiencies, and aging can all cause dry feet.

care and prevention

You can usually moisturize dry feet at home. To soothe and prevent dry, cracked skin on your feet, consider the following:

  • Foot Cream: Use a daily foot cream, preferably one containing alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) or urea. AHA helps remove 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: For rough or cracked skin areas, try lanolin, which acts as an effective moisture barrier. You can buy over-the-counter lanolin (OTC) at any pharmacy. It’s often labeled as a product for breastfeeding parents, although you can use it for any kind of dry, chapped skin.
  • Urea Cream: Urea is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient that is very moisturizing.
  • Hypoallergenic products: If you are prone to allergies or have sensitive skin, be sure to use products formulated for sensitive skin.
  • File or pumice stone: For rough areas on the bottom of your feet, use a foot file or pumice stone after bathing or soaking your feet. This procedure is very effective in preventing calluses from building up on the soles. For dry skin on the feet and legs, try a loofah sponge or an exfoliating skin product.

What is sensitive skin?

when to call the doctor

In most cases, dry feet are not a cause for concern. However, you should contact your doctor if you notice the following signs of infection:

  • redness or heat
  • swelling
  • fever
  • Pus coming out of cracks in the skin


Use a cream or lotion to improve calluses, chapped, dry feet. However, if they persist even after home treatment, you should have them evaluated by a podiatrist.

A podiatrist can identify and treat causes of dry skin, such as athlete’s foot or eczema. Also, they can prescribe more potent ointments.

Plus, a podiatrist can safely remove corns and calluses. Controlling other foot conditions can help prevent future problems, such as pain and skin wounds.


Environmental factors, aging, and some health conditions can cause dry feet. Called feet may react to home treatments like creams, pumice stones, and switch to products for sensitive skin. Otherwise, a podiatrist can help with diagnosis and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How to get rid of thick dead skin on feet?

    You can use a foot peel to remove the thick dead skin on your feet. The product involves wearing a pair of plastic socks for an hour; the exfoliating chemicals in the socks seep into the feet and allow the dead skin to slough off after a few days. Some people may be sensitive to exfoliating chemicals, so be sure to read product ingredient lists beforehand. Foot peels are available online and at many drugstores.

  • How to cure cracked feet?

    You can heal cracked feet with a daily foot cream that contains alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic or lactic acid. Lanolin-based products are also a popular choice for keeping your feet hydrated. If a foot cream or lotion doesn’t help heal cracked feet, it’s best to see a dermatologist.

  • Why are the soles of my feet peeling?

    The bottoms of your feet can peel due to sunburn, eczema, dry weather, athlete’s foot, psoriasis, genetics, dehydration, and even reactive arthritis. The best way to remedy peeling is to treat its underlying cause. If athlete’s foot or eczema is the cause of peeling feet, a podiatrist can offer specialized treatments, such as creams for dry feet.