Dry, cracked feet are more than just unattractive. The broken skin barrier can become a way for insidious bacteria and fungus to infect the feet. We already talked about how there are over 100 different types of bacteria living on the skin. Could you imagine if these microbes could get into your blood and tissues? Chances are, you’ve come into contact with everything from athlete’s foot to toenail fungus already. If there was no way for these pathogens to creep inside the body, then you probably just washed your feet, washed your socks and called it a day. Yet, if you have any cracking, cuts or blisters, this is all the invitation foot fungus needs.
Preventing Cracked, Dry Feet
There are several factors that can cause dry, scaly feet. First of all, your hands and feet are the only parts of the body that do not possess sebaceous (oil) glands. Therefore, they are unable to self-moisturize. The skin also naturally loses moisture as we age. Lifestyle factors like using harsh bubble baths or non-moisturizing soaps, prolonged exposure to the sun, taking excessively hot showers, soaking in hot tubs, exposure to cold air, wearing irritating footwear, and failure to moisturize the skin routinely can all cause cracked heels and dry skin on the feet. Untreated athlete’s foot and diabetes can also leave the foot dried out. So, it’s important to understand these contributing factors and avoid them as much as possible.
Treating Cracked, Dry Feet
A recent study published in the journal Skin Research and Technology found that a humectant-rich lotion can help improve skin hydration, remove scales and improve the skin barrier function against microbes.
NYC podiatrist Suzanne M. Levine, DPM recommends foot creams like:
- Head to Toe Beauty Foot Humectants
- Head to Toe Beauty Glycolic 20% Foot Pads
- Head to Toe Beauty Glycolic Foot Cream 20%
- Head to Toe Beauty® Recovery Complex
- Udderly SMOOth Shea Butter Foot Cream
- Udderly SMOOth® Foot Cream for Dry Feet
- Glytone’s Ultra Heel and Elbow Pamper Kit
Natural remedies for dry feet may include smashed banana, lavendar oil, vegetable oil, honey, papaya and lemon.
“One in six people are skin pickers. We are talking hidden epidemic here,” says Boston-based psychologist Ted A. Grossbart PhD. “When it comes to heels, the ‘yuck factor’ is a big reason that people don’t talk about it.”
Using loofahs or pumice stones are okay, but heel pickers are advised to avoid abrasive foot files — which will make things worse. They are also encouraged to skip using other manual tools like scissors or nail clippers to remove skin — as this can cause infection. Instead, experts recommend focusing on exfoliation of dead skin cells and moisturizing daily.
Avoiding Athlete’s Foot
Moisturizing is good, but there can be too much of a good thing, too. “Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize,” MetroHealth Medical Center podiatrist Dr. Lisa Roth tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer — but do not apply cream between the toes. “You want to keep the web spaces dry; moisture of any kind can promote the growth of fungus and conditions including athlete’s foot,” she explains. You also want to limit your exposure to bacteria and fungus as much as possible. Keeping the soles of your feet covered in public places is vital. Also, you should wash your feet daily with soap, change out of wet socks mid-day, rotate your shoes to let them air out, and use a UV shoe sanitizer daily.