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What Causes Dry Feet?

By Helena Reimer
Updated May 17, 2024
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The causes of dry feet can range from not wearing the proper footwear to skin conditions and certain diseases. Age, overexposure to water, and harsh soaps can also contribute to dry skin and feet. The symptoms include rough, flaky, and chapped skin on the feet, which can crack and become painful when left untreated.

An excess amount of pressure on the feet tends to flatten the bottoms and causes the skin to stretch beyond its natural limits. As a result, the skin becomes prone to dryness and eventually cracks if the pressure is not reduced. Open-toed footwear allows the padding of the toes to be stretched and thus result in dry toes. In the same way, walking barefoot or on hard surfaces, as well as being overweight, increases the pressure and therefore can potentially result in dry feet.

Many skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, and athlete's foot can cause excess skin to build up on the soles of the feet and eventually lead to dryness. A reduced amount of sweat can also end up in dry feet, as the sweat helps to naturally moisten the skin. Therefore, any diseases, such as hypothyroidism and diabetes, which slow down sweating mechanisms, have the potential to cause dry feet. For many, dry feet become a problem during the winter months when the inside air becomes dry due to heating. In these cases, drinking plenty of water can help to promote sweating as well as to keep the body moist from the inside out.

A lack of natural oils within the skin is a common cause of rough and dry feet. The natural production of oil is slowed down with age and in those who suffer from diabetes. Dry skin can also result from an overexposure to water, such as during swimming or long baths. Chlorinated and hot water in particular are quick to rob the skin of its natural oils. Similarly, trapped dirt and the use of harsh soaps can draw the natural oils out as well.

Rough and dry feet can be relieved and even prevented by regularly scrubbing the feet with a wet pumice stone to remove the dry skin. Soaking dry feet in warm water with added milk, honey, and other soothing ingredients before bedtime can also help. After the soak, it is important to apply a lotion or a moisturizing cream to help retain the natural moisture in the feet.

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