Skin: Dry Cracked Skin

The 26 Review

  • What is dry cracked skin Dead or diseased skin layers that build up overtime
  • Causes Lack of moisture, vitamin deficiencies, excessive pressure, age, obesity, diabetes, poor circulation, ill-fitting shoes, eczema, psoriasis, and athlete’s foot
  • Symptoms Dryness, cracking, peeling, flaking, splitting, thickening, tenderness, roughness, and/or itching
  • Diagnosis Physical examination, skin biopsy
  • Treatment Prescription moisturizers, oral and topical medications, and dry skin removal
26 Foot and Ankle Heel dry skin

Let’s take a closer look…

Dry, cracked skin on the feet is a condition that affects many people each year. While this ailment is not particularly painful, it can be bothersome physically and visually unsightly. If left untreated this condition can lead to the thickening of the foot, which inturn can lead to the development of other ailments. Generally, cracked skin is caused by the combination of pressure and dryness on the bottom of the foot. The skin typically splits apart under pressure due to a lack of moisture, which causes other symptoms to arise. Luckily there are many different prevention and treatment methods accessible for everyone. It is incredibly important to take care of the feet, so when the bottom of the foot starts to feel like sandpaper out of nowhere, it may be cause for concern. Rough skin and cracked heels are usually the first symptoms to appear when the skin has been affected. Don’t ignore dry, cracked skin, as over time it may worsen, which can increase the risk of infection. Continue reading on to learn more about at-home remedies, prevention and treatment processes.


Dead skin on the bottom of the feet is an issue most adults will face, making it incredibly important to understand how to stay ahead of the condition. This unsightly and uncomfortable condition can be difficult to handle, but not impossible. The three most common ailments to cause dry, cracked skin are Athlete’s Foot, Psoriasis, and Eczema. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection in the feet, primarily caused by exposure to moist environments, such as gyms and communal showers. This condition can lead to burning, peeling, and stinging sensations on the bottom of the foot. Eczema is a skin condition that can be found anywhere on the body, however when found on the feet it commonly causes thickening of the skin. This leads to cracking, peeling, and itching skin. Psoriasis is another chronic disease that can appear on the soles of the feet. This lifelong condition can lead to the overgrowth of skin cells, causing the skin on the bottom of the foot to thicken. Poor circulation due to diabetes and/or peripheral vascular disease can also lead to dry skin in the feet.

For patients who don’t have any pre-existing health conditions, there are a few common causes for dry, cracked skin to occur. Generally, cracked skin is caused by the combination of pressure and dryness on the bottom of the foot. That being said, there is still a wide range of potential causes for this condition. Those causes include lack of moisture, vitamin deficiencies, excessive pressure, age, obesity, and ill-fitting shoes. Patients that do not have a proper diet and nutrition unknowingly reduce the overall health of the heels or feet as a whole. In conjunction, too much pressure put on the feet, due to excessive weight, can lead to cracking, since the increased pressure expands the skin sideways. As patients age, the skin loses elasticity, meaning dry parts of the body have a higher risk of cracking. Patients who stand or walk too much without enough rest time can expect to experience cracked skin.


Symptoms for dry, cracked skin can vary between patients depending on the severity of the condition. Most patients will experience one or more of the following signs; dryness, cracking, peeling, itchy, burning, flaking, tenderness, and an overall sense of discomfort. It is important to seek guidance from a podiatrist if you are experiencing one or more of the previously listed symptoms, so that the condition doesn’t worsen. Dry skin over time can thicken and split, leading not only to pain but also infection.


Diagnosis can be made by a podiatrist through clinical examination. The medical professional will conduct a physical exam, potentially order lab work, and look at a patient’s medical history to find the cause of the condition. An in-office skin biopsy can also help determine a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Treatment For Dry Cracked Skin

Preventing dry, cracked feet is fairly easy, especially for those who already take good care of their feet. Patients should avoid exposing their feet to extremely hot or cold weather and when in harsh weather conditions proper footwear should be worn at all times. That being said though, people should always strive to wear properly fitting shoes and dry socks, in all seasons. If you or someone you know are struggling with dry, cracked feet you’re in luck. There are a multitude of at-home remedies and nonsurgical treatments to aid this condition. A great place to start when it comes to making lifestyle changes is to review the type of soap used when showering. Certain soaps dry out the skin worse than others. It is key to avoid products that have sodium lauryl sulfate and artificial fragrances when shopping for a soap. It is important to stay as hydrated as possible, since dehydration affects the body as a whole. Two at-home remedies include oatmeal baths and epsom salt baths. Soaking the feet and ankles in an oatmeal or epsom salt bath for 20 minutes will leave the feet feeling smoothed, relaxed and moisturized.

26 Foot and Ankle Heel dry skin Treatment

It is important to lock in the moisture with lotions or topicals after any bathing or soaking activities. Using a topical prescription moisturizer on the feet once or twice a day in general is highly recommended. It could also be beneficial to regularly massage the feet. Wearing properly fitted and closed toe shoes that offer support around the feet is crucial for prevention and treatment as this will prevent abnormal rubbing and friction. A pumice stone or foot file may also be used to gently scrape skin off the foot at home, but if the condition is serious, leave the treatment up to a podiatrist. In certain cases, a podiatrist may need to shave or cut off the dry, cracked skin found on the foot. To do this, the podiatrist will begin with a physical assessment to better understand what is causing the skin to dry and crack. Prior to dead skin removal, topical medications may be recommended for before and after the procedure. The podiatrist will then remove the skin by using special tools; typically including a scalpel and an electric file. This procedure causes little to no pain, as the dry, cracked skin doesn’t have much or any sensation. Once the skin has been removed the podiatrist will usually recommend special socks, heel cups, and even custom fitted orthotics to help alleviate any discomfort. When dealing with dry, cracked skin it is best to speak with a podiatrist to determine the best plan of action for prevention, treatment, and recovery.

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