You walk on them, stuff them into uncomfortable shoes and use them to play sports and exercise. But with all of this work, do your feet get the tender loving care that they deserve? If they don’t, they’re probably dry and cracked, possibly blistered and bruised, and may even have corns or calluses. You may think that your feet can handle this kind of wear and tear, but over time, dry and cracked feet can turn into a much bigger problem.
[Related: Foot Callus Treatment And Prevention]
How Do Feet Become Dry And Cracked?
It actually doesn’t take much to dry out the skin on your feet. For starters, if you don’t moisturize your feet as often as the rest of your body, you aren’t hydrating the skin. And if you live in a colder climate, your skin may be dryer anyway, not only from the weather, but from the hot water that you use in the shower.
Once your skin becomes very dry, it can begin to crack. Like a crack in a piece of glass, a crack on your skin will start small and spread out over time. As it gets bigger, it will also get more painful. But your feet don’t get this way solely by a lack of moisturizing; the skin on your feet can also crack just by:
- Walking – Walking puts a lot of pressure on your feet. It causes your feet to spread out, which weakens the support – and the skin – the bottom of your feet.
- Standing – This also puts a lot of pressure on your feet.
- Getting your feet wet – If your feet tend to be wet for long periods of time, either from hanging out by the pool all day or from getting caught in the rain, this can cause the skin to weaken.
- Wearing uncomfortable shoes – Shoes that are too small or slightly too big can rub against your skin, causing a blister or a sore.
Additionally, certain conditions can cause dry, cracked skin. Those conditions include:
Why Dry And Cracked Feet Can Be Dangerous
If the skin on your feet becomes too dry and too cracked, it can split open and bleed. That split can turn into an entryway for germs and bacteria, which means that, eventually, an infection can develop. This can be especially dangerous for diabetics and those with a suppressed immune system because it can be harder for their bodies to fight the infection.
Diabetics are also prone to developing nerve damage in their feet, which can be a problem because they may not be able to feel blisters, sores, cracks or other wounds. So if you have diabetes, it’s even more important that you take care of your feet.
[Related: Diabetic Foot Pain And Complications]
Home Remedies To Soften Your Feet
If your feet are feeling a little less than soft, it’s not too late to reverse the damage and you can do so with items from your own pantry. To start getting your skin back in shape, make a foot soak, which will penetrate the deeper layers of skin. Just mix one cup of milk with five cups of warm water and soak your feet in it for 5 to 10 minutes.
Next, create a foot scrub using a few tablespoons of salt or sugar and a half-cup of oil. You can use olive oil, coconut oil or even baby oil. If you’d rather use the oil as a moisturizer, you can create an oatmeal scrub instead. Once you’ve scrubbed the skin thoroughly, rinse the mixture off with warm water.
After you’ve scrubbed the dead skin away, it’s time to moisturize your skin. Of course you can use lotion or a foot cream, but if you prefer a natural remedy, try mixing a mashed banana with a few tablespoons of honey and rubbing that onto your feet. The honey has antibacterial properties, which is excellent for cracked skin. Once you rub the mixture onto your skin, put on a pair of socks and leave them on for at least four hours so the mixture can soak in.
Tips For Proper Foot Care
Once your feet are back to baby smooth, you want to ensure that they stay that way. Here are some tips that will help you keep your feet looking and feeling good:
- Check your feet for sores, cuts, blisters, etc. particularly if you have diabetes or nerve damage. You may have an open wound without knowing or feeling it.
- Soak and scrub your feet on a weekly basis. Be sure to use warm water, though, since hot water can dry out your skin.
- Wash your feet with a moisturizing soap every time you take a shower.
- Check your shoes for any debris before putting them on.
- Always apply sunscreen on the tops of your feet when you wear sandals or when you’re at the pool or beach.
- Don’t put lotion on cracked feet as that can lead to an infection. Instead, use talcum powder or baby powder.
- If you have diabetes or another health condition that predisposes you to dry skin, you may want to visit a podiatrist on a regular basis so that he or she can make sure that your feet are in good shape.
It’s easy to neglect your feet when you have so many other body parts to worry about. But it’s important that you take proper care of them so they can take you where you want to go.