What can I use for dry cracked feet?
Your feet seldom get the care and attention they deserve. Your feet carry your weight and help you move around and they often bear a lot of rough treatment. Foot care is very important because the skin on the feet is different from the skin anywhere else on your body. The skin of your feet does not have oil-producing glands, called sebaceous glands. Because of this and because they carry your bodyweight, your feet are more vulnerable to problems such as dryness and cracking of the skin. If you are accustomed to walking barefoot or wearing open footwear such as flip-flops and sandals, the risk of dry and cracked feet further increases. If you ignore the problem, cracked heels and soles can persist and may become infected. Foot care is very important for everyone, especially for people who have diabetes. A small crack or cut on the skin on your feet can lead to a serious infection if you have diabetes. If you have dry and cracked feet, you can try the following tips to make them supple and healthy
- Moisturize your feet with coconut oil: Because the skin of the feet is quite thick and devoid of oil glands, it needs intensive moisturization. You can apply a good amount of coconut oil to your feet and massage well until it is absorbed. Massaging will also increase blood flow to the feet, making them heal faster. You can wear socks after the massage to lock in moisture and prevent slipping when you walk.
- Scrub your feet regularly: Scrubbing the feet helps remove dead skin that builds up and causes dry and cracked soles. Use a loofa or pumice stone to scrub your feet with soap and water. Scrubbing removes dirt from your feet and makes your skin clean and smooth.
- Wear clean, dry socks: Wearing socks after a foot massage helps retain the oils in the skin. It also protects your feet from getting dry or cracked in addition to keeping them warm at night. Change your socks every day and never wear moist or wet socks. Moist or sweaty socks can irritate the skin of your feet and cause dermatitis (inflammation) and subsequent cracks.
- Apply ointment to cracked feet: Cracked feet heal faster when they are protected from direct exposure to air. Ointment acts as a barrier between the skin of the feet and surrounding air. Apply petroleum jelly to your feet after you have washed and dried them to speed healing of cracked skin.Mix petroleum jelly with coconut oil and massage it into your feet. You can wear clean socks after the massage for better results. Aquaphor healing ointment or polysporin ointment (if mild infection is present) will also boost healing.
- Homemade foot mask: You can make a foot mask at home by mixing three teaspoonfuls of aloe vera gel, one teaspoonful of olive oil and a pinch of turmeric in a bowl. Apply it to your feet by gently massaging, leave it on overnight and gently scrub your feet in the morning.
- Use some Epsom salt for foot care: Epsom salt acts as an excellent exfoliant for the feet and it also has infection-fighting properties. Add half a cup of Epsom salt to warm water in a tub or bucket. Soak your feet in the water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Scrub your feet well and soak them again in the water for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this every other day for a week to get smooth and soft feet. You can apply a moisturizer or foot cream after drying your feet.
- Use liquid skin bandages for deeper cracks: Use over-the-counter liquid bandages to help seal the deep cracks more effectively.
- Stay hydrated: Apart from external moisturization, your skin needs hydration from within. Drink plenty of water and other fluids to keep yourself hydrated.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Carrying excess pounds can increase the risk of cracked soles. Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and maintain a healthy weight.
- Choose your footwear wisely: Wear comfortable and protective footwear appropriate for the weather and your lifestyle. Good footwear protects your feet from cracks and other issues such as calluses.
If self-management does not help, you should consult your doctor for proper treatment. If you ignore cracked feet for too long, it may result in deeper cracks and serious infections. If you have diabetes, you must be particularly careful with your feet. Ask your diabetes doctor about proper foot care and get your feet examined comprehensively at least annually by a podiatrist (foot specialist).
Seattle Children's Hospital
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