Rough, Dry or Cracked Skin
Dry skin can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. It can lead to cracks and fissures in the skin. Treating dry skin is important because extensively dry skin can lead to a more severe inflammation of the skin such as dermatitis. Luckily, by decreasing exposure to low humidity levels, excessive bathing and hot or cold weather, you can improve your skin condition.
A variety of causes exist for "cracked heels." Dry skin is common and can worsen with wearing open-back shoes, increased weight, or increased friction from the back of shoes. Dry cracking skin can also be a subtle sign of more significant problems, such as diabetes or loss of nerve function (neuropathy). Changes in the skin of your foot can be caused by diabetes. At times your foot may become very dry and the skin may peel and crack. In neuropathy, the nerves that control the oil and moisture in your foot no longer work.
If you have dry skin, you might encounter a feeling of skin tightness, it may appear shrunken or dehydrated, or feel and look rough. Other symptoms may include itching, flaking, scaling or peeling, fine lines or cracks, redness or deep fissures that may bleed.
The following measures can help your skin to stay moist and healthy:
- Moisturize your skin immediately after bathing or shower: Pat your skin with a towel, leaving it damp. Apply a moisturizer within three to five minutes of washing to lock humidity in your skin. Moisturizers provide a coating over your skin to keep water from escaping. Thicker moisturizers work best but if your skin is extremely dry, you may want to apply an oil, since it has more power to prevent the evaporation of water. To help reduce the cracking, heels should be kept well moisturized with a cream. However, if you have diabetes, do not put oils or creams between your toes. The extra moisture can lead to infection.
- Use warm water and limit bath or shower time to about 15 minutes or less: Hot and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin.
- Avoid abrasive, drying soaps: Use cleansing creams or gentle skin cleansers and bath or shower gels with added moisturizers.
- Use a humidifier: Hot, dry indoor air can dehydrate sensitive skin and increase itching and flaking.
- Wear cotton and other natural fibres: Wool, synthetics, or other fabrics can be scratchy and irritating.
- Drink lots of water.
- Eat omega-3 foods: Essential fatty acids can help reinforce the skin’s natural oil-retaining barriers. Foods rich in omega-3 include cold-water fish (salmon, halibut, sardines), flax, walnuts, and safflower oil.
- For itching or inflammation, apply a cool compress or a hydrocortisone cream on the area for a week.
When to consult a doctor
- If your skin doesn't improve in spite of your treatment
- If dry skin is accompanied by redness
- If dryness and itching interfere with sleeping
- If you have open sores or infections from scratching
- If you have large areas of scaling or peeling skin
- If you have atopic dermatitis, ichthyosis or psoriasis, your doctor may prescribe other treatments.
- If your skin cracks open, wet bandages with mildly astringent properties to contract your skin, reduce oozing and prevent skin infection may be prescribed.