Cracked feet or fissures of the feet are a sign of lack of proper foot care. The skin on our feet is usually dry as there are no oil glands in the skin of the feet. Over exposure, lack of moisturizing and medical condition can cause dry feet and cracked feet. Though the problem of cracked feet can occur in any person, it is common among people having diabetes, athlete’s foot or who are aged. The fissures of the feet affect the epidermis sometimes the cracks move deep into dermis causing severe pain. Excessive pressure on the foot pad makes the feet to extend sideways. Since the skin of the feet is dry this extension causes the skin to crack. In some people deficiency of zinc and omega -3-fatty acid leads to cracked feet.
Symptoms Of Cracked Feet
The signs and symptoms of cracked heels indicate the external abuse of the feet or faulty internal activity.
- Rough skin on the feet- this is one of the first signs that indicate you are going to develop cracked feet. The callus skin around the heels will lead to cracks
- Red, flaky patches- red and flaky skin on the feet shows that your feet need more care. If you ignore the flaky skin the condition will worsen
- Cracks on the underside of the feet or fissures- this symptom follows the red, flaky skin. Cracks on the feet are a definite sign of cracked feet and immediate remedy is required to improve the condition of the skin. Do not pull out the pieces of dry skin. Clip away the dead skin using small scissors.
- Itchiness- The shrinking of the upper layers of the skin causes stretching of the skin below and this result in itching.
- Rash caused by itching- the itching if left untreated can lead to rash which may be painful. Get rid of the upper layers of the skin before you start any treatment for dry and cracked feet.
- Bleeding or discharge from the cracks- when the cracks affect the deeper layers of the skin bleeding or discharge from the cracks occurs. This increases the chances of infection of the cracked skin.
- Symptoms worsening during winter- The symptoms like dryness, itchiness and rash increases during cold climate.
Causes of Cracked Feet
The important causes that lead to cracked feet are
- Naturally dry skin – excessive feet activity cause the naturally dry skin to crack
- Standing for a long time– standing on hard floors for a long time cause cracked heels
- Being overweight– excess weight cause pressure on the feet and cause the feet to expand leading to cracked heels
- Medical conditions– diseases such as diabetes and thyroid problems and skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, and athlete’s foot cause cracked feet.
- Aging– aging cause the loss of natural oils from the skin resulting in dry skin which tends to crack
- Continuous exposure to water– keeping the feet in water for a long time while bathing or doing any other work standing in water or wet areas remove the natural oils from the skin of the feet. This will leave the skin dry and rough
- Low humidity levels– during cold weather the humidity will be less causing the drying up of the exposed skin. The heating systems also make the skin to dry up.
- Non-moisturizing soap– Non- moisturizing soaps when used will not replenish the moisture of the skin causing cracks or fissures of the skin.
Complications Associated With Cracked Feet
It is necessary for people suffering from mild or moderate cracked feet to be aware of the complications associated with the condition. If the mild or moderate cracked feet are not treated properly, there can lead to severe conditions of cracked feet. The symptoms which are mild at first can become difficult to manage if it is left untreated. Severe or deep cracks will be painful and there are additional complications such as
- Difficulty in walking
- Infections of the cracked feet
- You cannot spend more time on feet, which will affect your working ability
- Increased itchiness and burning sensation
- Require expensive treatment instead of cheaper home remedies to get rid of cracked feet
Preventing Cracked Feet
To prevent cracked feet, one should understand the cause of the problem. People with naturally dry skin should take some extra care to keep the feet moisturized using different methods.
- You can use any natural oil or creams to keep the skin moisturized
- Do not use products containing alcohol as they will further dry up the skin
- Use baby oil which are mild and which do not contain any skin irritants
- Apply moisturizers on the feet after bathing
- Use mild soaps while bathing
- Do not use excess hot water for bathing as this will remove the oils from the skin
- Drink plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated
- Avoid saunas and steam baths which will contribute to the dry foot condition
- Wear right fitting shoes which will allow your feet to breathe
- Avoid excessive sweating of the feet
- Avoid the use of alcohol and caffeine which will increase the itchy feeling in cracked feet
It is easy to control the cracked feet condition if proper preventive measures are taken or proper home remedies are taken at the right time to reduce the symptoms of cracked feet. If you feel that the itching and pain are severe and there is bleeding or discharge from the cracked areas of the feet then you can see a podiatrist who treat the skin conditions of the feet or you can go to an experienced dermatologist. You can visit the doctor only if the home remedies are not effective for your cracked foot condition.