For many people, dry skin is the norm — especially during the winter months. This can lead to cracked hands and feet. Often associated with conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, cracked skin can cause great discomfort. Whether you are experiencing dry, cracked hands and feet because of an underlying medical condition or an irritant, you can successfully target cracked skin.
What is Cracked Skin?Cracked skin is one of the most common symptoms of dry skin. However, cracked skin can also develop in response to infections or trauma. When your skin dries out because of a lack of moisture, it will become rough and tear easier. Without proper care, these small cracks can turn into deeper, often painful cracks known as fissures. To better understand the causes of cracked skin, you need to consider the layers of your skin. Made up of three layers, your skin is meant to remain squishy and elastic. However, to do so, your skin requires a lot of water. Once your skin becomes dry, it begins to lose its flexibility.
Causes of Severe Cracked Hands & Feet
Dry skin is the leading cause of cracked skin, which is caused by:
- Irritants — Many everyday products contain harsh chemicals that damage your skin's barrier.
- Cold weather — During the winter months, low temperatures and humidity dry out your skin. Indoor heating can also dry out your skin.
- Hot water — Hot water from washing dishes or from showers can affect your skin's moisture levels.
- Your diet — Dry skin may be a sign of ongoing dehydration. Besides drinking more water, eat more hydrating foods.
How to Help Heal Cracked SkinWhen cracked skin isn't too severe, you can often relieve it at home. Of course, the cause of your cracked skin will need to be taken into consideration and any complications should be discussed with your physician. Remember, once you begin to experience cracked skin, this means that your skin barrier is compromised. The most common reason being dry, irritated skin. If you are experiencing cracked hands and feet, here are some of the best ways to help your symptoms at home:
- Begin a moisturizing routine to minimize moisture loss and repair the skin barrier. When you invest in a quality moisturizer that will help minimize transepidermal water loss of the skin (moisture loss), such as a product like Cutemol Cream with Beeswax. The Beeswax leaves a thin layer on the skin and this will help keep your skin hydrated and repair the skin barrier. The goal is to help your skin retain moisture day-in and day-out. Apply your moisturizer of choice two to three times daily. In this case, focus on your hands and feet, especially after bathing. If you have sensitive skin, opt for a cream that is void of fragrance and parabens, such as Cūtemol Sensitive Emollient Dry Skin Cream.
- If you have deep cracks, talk to your physician about a liquid skin bandage. This can help you treat skin cracks. Once healed, it's important to continue your daily moisturizing routine as a preventative measure.
- Exfoliate your feet and hands to remove dry, dead skin cells. Be gentle so that you do not irritate further. To do so, soak your feet or hands in water for 15-20 minutes. Use a soft loofah to gently scrub away dry skin before patting them dry. While soaking your hands or feet, you can also add salts or oils to ease itching and irritation, Then, apply a thick barrier moisturizer such as Cutemol cream. Repeat this process once or twice a week.
- During the winter months, consider using a humidifier. This will help combat dry air, which will increase your risk of cracked feet and hands.