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Dry and Peeling Skin on the Feet

Dry and Peeling Skin on the Feet

Overview

Dry and peeling feet can be unattractive and embarrassing, so it is natural to want to tend to them right away. However, sometimes dry and peeling feet can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. Making note of concurrent symptoms and bringing them to your doctor's attention will not only help treat your feet properly, but could even save your life.

Causes

It stands to reason that one of the causes for dry and peeling feet is dry skin, which is common with aging or in dry climates. However, there are some causes that may not be as obvious. Fungal infections, such as athlete's foot, can cause the skin on the feet, particularly around the toes, to appear dry and flaky. Common skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, can also affect your feet. Dry and peeling skin on your feet can also be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as diabetes.

Identification

Identifying the cause of your dry and peeling feet will more than likely require a visit to your doctor. Other symptoms can provide clues to the cause. Excessive itching and odor could indicate athlete's foot, while specific patches of dryness and peeling can be indicative of eczema. Swelling in the lower legs and feet and discoloration of those same areas could indicate a serious condition known as stasis dermatitis, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Loss of feeling in your toes or feet accompanied by dryness and peeling skin can be a symptom of diabetes.

Treatments

Moisturizing your feet with lotion is an obvious treatment for dry and peeling feet, but some conditions may require further treatment. Athlete's foot can be often be successfully treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications. Depending upon the cause, topical steroids or antibacterial creams may be necessary. If your dry and peeling feet are caused by more serious conditions, such as stasis dermatitis or diabetes, you may also require oral or injected medications to treat the underlying cause.

Prevention

According to the American Diabetes Association, drying your feet and applying a small amount of moisturizer after bathing can help keep the skin on your feet healthy. If the dryness and peeling are a result of poor circulation, elevating your feet whenever possible, and particularly when sleeping, can prevent the skin on your feet from becoming dry or from peeling. You can avoid developing athlete's foot by washing your feet daily and being sure to wear footwear in public places, including the beach or a locker room at the gym.

Warning

While the appearance of your feet may be foremost in your mind when you experience dry and peeling feet, don't dismiss other symptoms as unrelated. If you've developed diabetes or poor circulation, it is important to receive proper treatment right away to avoid more severe complications such as amputation or even death. If your feet are chronically dry or peeling, visit your physician to determine the root cause and establish the best treatment plan for you.

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