The weather around the Twin Falls and Burley area can lend itself well to dry and cracked feet. We have cold winters that require a lot of indoor heating, and a pretty general dryness through the year that doesn’t help much, either.
But the weather is not the only factor that can cause dry skin and cracked heels. Up to 1 in 5 adults in America experience problems from these symptoms. And it’s not just an aesthetic issue, either. The worse that cracking becomes, the more painful and prone to infection your feet can become – an especially serious problem for patients who live with diabetes.
Whether the Idaho climate or other factors are causing dryness and cracking, it is not something to just try to ignore. We can help you get to the root of the problem and address it effectively.
What Causes Dry Skin and Cracked Heels?
A variety of different factors can contribute to dryness in the feet. This area of the body tends to be more susceptible to dryness than other areas, largely because it has more sweat glands in the skin to release moisture and fewer oil glands to help keep moisture in.
Different factors that can increase your risk of dryness and cracking include:
- Age. As we get older, the already limited production of natural oils on our feet diminishes even further. This can cause the skin to lose elasticity in addition to drying out faster, making cracking more likely.
- Environment. As we noted earlier, low humidity can lead to dryness. This can be especially true during Idaho winters, as indoor heating tends to draw moisture out of the air.
- Diet and Hydration. A lack of nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids can interfere with the body’s ability to replenish natural oils. And, of course, not drinking enough water can lead to overall dehydration of your skin.
- Hygienic Practices. How you clean is just as important as how often you clean. If you enjoy long, steaming hot showers, that can actually draw more moisture out of your feet. Stick to shorter showers at a lower (does not have to be cold) temperature. Also make sure you are using a mild soap that is not irritating your skin.
- Weight and Pressure on the Feet. Excess pressure on the feet can increase the risk of splitting. This not only includes extra pressure from excess weight, but also from long periods of standing – especially on hard surfaces.
- Medical Conditions and Side Effects. A number of different conditions can be directly or indirectly responsible for dry feet, including eczema, psoriasis, athlete’s foot, diabetic neuropathy, thyroid disease, and kidney disease. Dryness can also be a side effect of certain medications and treatments.
Treating Dry Skin and Cracking on the Feet
If you’re only dealing with mild dryness without any medical complications, then you may be able to treat your condition at home. You might consider:
- Moisturizing your feet once or twice per day. Great times to do so are after a shower and before going to bed. Place an old pair of cotton socks over your feet overnight to help lock moisture in.
- Using a pumice stone. When used correctly, a pumice stone can help reduce the thickness of dry skin and calluses. Soak both your feet and the stone in warm water for a few minutes, then gently rub over the affected area in slow circles. Do not grind at the area and try to get all the rough skin off in one go, and do not use a pumice stone if you have diabetes.
- Wearing breathable shoes and socks. Keeping feet cool and comfortable can help reduce moisture lost through sweat.
There are certain cases, however, that are more serious and require professional care. Please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wettstein in Twin Falls or Burley if:
- Your condition is painful
- Cracks appear especially deep
- You see bleeding or any signs of infection
- Home treatment has not helped, or dryness keeps returning frequently
- You have diabetes, poor circulation, or another condition that places you at a higher risk of complications.