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Dry, Flaky Skin on the Feet

Dry, Flaky Skin on the Feet Dry, Flaky Skin on the Feet

Overview

Dry, flaky skin can make you self-conscious about baring your feet in front of people. Dry skin, also known as xerosis, is a common condition. Improper skin care and cold weather can exacerbate the issue. In most cases, you can easily treat your dry feet at home.

Symptoms

As your feet dry out, you'll notice the skin feels rough, dull and tight. Calluses often are present on dry feet--this is your skin's response to irritation and friction, according to the Foot & Ankle Center of Washington. Calluses appear thicker and rougher than other areas of the foot. The skin also may flake, peel, crack or appear red. In worst case scenarios, people with dry feet may experience pain and bleeding.

Causes

Fungal infections, such as athlete's foot, can result in dry, flaky skin. Your environment also plays a crucial role in the dryness of your feet. For instance, winter weather tends to cause dry skin because the air lacks humidity and the central heating in your home sucks moisture from the air. Hot baths and excess sun exposure decrease the amount of protective oils on your skin, which also increases your risk of dry skin. As you age, you'll notice your skin doesn't retain moisture as well as it did when you were younger. Dry skin significantly increases if you're 65 or older, according to MayoClinic.com.

Treatment

Never peel or cut dry skin from your feet. In addition to increasing your risk of an infection, you may pull or cut your skin too deep. Soak your feet in lukewarm water for 20 to 30 minutes. Dry your feet with a towel. Use a pumice stone to soften calluses and remove dead skin cells from the surface of your feet. Apply a moisturizer at bedtime and cover your moistened feet with special socks that prevent moisture from evaporating, recommends the Foot & Ankle Center of Washington. An oil-based moisturizer offers the best results. If you suffer from athlete's foot, wear gloves to apply an anti-fungal cream or ointment. If the fungus gets on your hands, it can spread to other areas of your body.

Prevention

Apply a moisturizing cream to your feet at least twice a day, paying particular attention to moisturizing immediately following your baths or showers. Take warm--not hot--baths. Keep a pumice stone in the shower so you can regularly exfoliate dead skin cells. If you wear sandals, apply a sunscreen with a minimum 30 SPF to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays. Athlete's foot is very contagious, so always wear flip-flops in public pools, showers and restrooms, recommends The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. Change your shoes and socks regularly.

Considerations

Dry skin increases your risk of deep cracks or heel fissures, according to ePodiatry.com. Cracks and fissures provide an easy way for bacteria to reach deeper levels of your epidermal tissue--keep your feet clean to prevent infection. Consult your doctor or podiatrist if your dry skin interferes with your daily activities.

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