Cracked, Peeling Feet? 5 Conditions You Could Be Suffering From
Cracked, dry feet are unsightly and embarrassing, especially during the summer months when the feet are more frequently on display for the world to see. Home remedies abound for shaving or filing these dry, flaky foes, but with so much conflicting information out there, it’s hard to determine the best course of treatment. What is often overlooked, however, is getting to the root of the problem and determining why your feet are cracking or peeling in the first place. Check out these five common reasons:
- You’ve got a fungal infection. This often comes as a surprise to many patients, as they associate fungal infections with discolored or thickened toenails, but many contagious infections like Athlete’s foot start as skin infections. If your feet begin to crack, peel or flake rather suddenly, it’s a good indicator of a fungal infection you might have picked up. Summertime activities such as public showers and swimming pools are a breeding ground for contagious bacteria and fungi. Left untreated, a fungal infection can easily spread to the toenail and become more difficult to treat. An easy fix? Be sure to always wear shower shoes or flip flops in public areas.
- Your feet have done some extra sweating. Along with sweltering summer days and those extra trips to the gym to maintain your summer bod comes excess perspiration. Those sweat-soaked socks can actually dry your feet out, essentially making your feet dehydrated! Secondly, any exercise done barefoot, such as yoga (especially hot yoga) on shared mats, or water sports, can once again cause fungal infections. To prevent flaking, moisturize your feet before bed every night after a shower, massaging a foot lotion into the particularly dry, tough and flaky areas.
- Your fancy summer heels are rubbing you raw…literally. Breaking in your new summer sandals or heels can create some serious friction. The result can be blisters and raw spots on the heels, which during the healing process will flake or peel. Flip flops can also cause friction on the tops of the feet as well as in between the big toe and second toe. If you plan to do lots of walking, opt for more supportive footwear like sneakers, regardless of whether or not they are fashionable for this time of year. Open sores like blisters are particularly susceptible to infection, especially in the hot summer months when the feet are more exposed to outside elements.
- Oops, you forgot to re-apply sunblock to your feet! All too often, painful sunburn on the tops of the feet leads to equally unsightly and painful peeling of the skin. Severe peeling can even lead to open cracks and raw patches of skin that are extremely painful and wearing shoes become very uncomfortable. Remember that every time you dip your feet in the ocean or dangle your feet in the pool, they will need another application of sunscreen. Don’t forget to apply that first coat as well; the feet are the most commonly overlooked part of the body when it comes to sun protection…at least until the painful lesson has been learned!
- You might have eczema. Eczema is a common skin condition that displays as dry, flaky patches of skin anywhere on the body, including the soles of the feet. You can develop this condition at any stage in life, even if you’ve never had it before. It is not a contagious bacteria or fungus, and cannot be spread from person to person. It is usually caused by environmental factors and can be exacerbated by stress. Fortunately, there are many topical treatments that can reduce or eliminate this very itchy condition that can be obtained at your podiatrist’s office.
Being proactive about treating your cracked and dry feet is the key to restoring them to good health. Request an appointment with one of our podiatric specialists today for a foot exam by clicking here or call any of our convenient office locations in the Piedmont Triad.
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