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Cracked skin can result when the skin barrier is compromised. It is usually a symptom of dry, irritated skin, but there are many possible causes.
Your feet, hands, and lips may be particularly prone to chapping. However, depending on the cause, cracked skin can also develop in other places.
Most causes of cracked skin can be treated with home remedies. But if your cracked skin is severe or if you have any complications, it is best to see a doctor.
Let's look at the different causes of cracked skin along with ways to remedy it.
Depending on the cause, cracked skin can be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms. Paying attention to these symptoms can help identify the cause.
Dry Skin, or xerosis, is the most common cause of cracked skin.
For soft, hydrated skin, natural oils prevent skin from drying out by locking in moisture. But when your skin doesn't have enough oil, it loses moisture. This dries out and shrinks the skin, which can lead to cracking.
Dry skin can be caused by:
- Cold weather.SoyWinter, low humidity and temperature can dry out the skin. An indoor heater also reduces the humidity in your home.
- Chemical irritants.Many products like dish soap and laundry detergent can contain harsh chemicals. These substances can damage the skin barrier and cause dryness.
- Hot water.Hot water from showering or washing dishes can reduce skin moisture levels.
- Drug.Dryness can be a side effect of some medications, such as topical retinoids.
- excess moisture.Constant exposure to moisture can cause the skin to become irritated and dry. This can happen to your feet if you've been wearing sweaty socks for a long time. This is because the water is an irritant to the skin.
eczemaIt is a skin condition that causes redness and itching. It is also known as atopic dermatitis. It can appear anywhere on the body, but most commonly affects the face, hands, and the inner folds of the arms and behind the knees.
The condition makes the skin appear very dry, which can lead to cracking. Other symptoms of eczema include:
- severe itching
- rough, scaly patches
soriasisis an immune dysfunction disorder that causes skin cells to grow too fast. As the extra cells accumulate, the skin becomes scaly. Inflammation also plays an important role.
The rapid buildup of cells can cause dryness and cracking, along with:
- Red stain
- silvery white scales
- itching, in some cases
These symptoms can develop anywhere, but often appear on:
- lower back
cracked heelsare a common complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The condition can causediabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage from diabetes.
In diabetic neuropathy, the nerves cannot adequately control the moisture levels of the skin. This can lead to dryness and cracking, especially on the feet.
Other symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include:
- numbness in feet or hands
- Pain in feet, legs or hands
- calluses on feet
- ankle weakness
People with diabetes are prone to skin infections. In many cases, dry feet can be attributed to athlete's foot or tinea pedis.
Another cause of cracked feet isathlete's foot. This is a skin infection caused by a fungus.
The infection, which usually develops between the toes or on the bottom of the feet, can cause the skin to crack. Other symptoms are:
Athlete's foot often affects people who have constantly wet feet, such as swimmers and runners. It is also common in people with diabetes.
If your lips become very dry or irritated, they can crack, peel, and in some cases become swollen, itchy, or painful.
inflammation ordry lipsit can happen for various reasons. Some of the most common reasons for chapped lips are:
- frequentlylick lips
- Cold weather
- wind exposure
- an allergic reaction to a lip balm or other product
exfoliative keratolysisexfoliating handsand feet. It usually affects the palms of the hands but can also appear on the soles of the feet.
The skin loses its natural barrier when the top layer is shed. This can cause dryness and cracking.
Other symptoms are:
- air-filled bladders
There are several ways to treat cracked skin at home if the condition is not too severe. Depending on the cause and location of your cracked skin, you may want to try one of these self-care treatments.
ointment or moisturizing cream
Since dry skin can cause or worsen cracking, it's important to keep your skin well hydrated. You can do this by frequently applyingmoisturizer.
Try to use ointments and creams. These products tend to be more effective as they can help the skin retain moisture.
You may want to consider the following products, which can be particularly helpful in treating dry, cracked skin:
- Cerave Moisturizing Cream
- Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream
- La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP+ Moisturizing Cream
Also try products with ingredients like:
- jojoba oil
- coconut beer
- olive oil
- shea butter
Apply the moisturizer two to three times a day, including immediately after bathing. Focus on the driest parts of your body.
Vaselinetreat cracks by sealing and protecting your skin. Jelly has the ability to retain moisture, which helps heal cracked skin.
How to use this treatment:
- Apply Vaseline to the areas where your skin is cracked.
- Cover the area with a bandage or gauze. If you treat cracked heels, wear socks.
- Repeat this three times a day and immediately after bathing.
Vaseline is particularly good fordry lips. Before using this product, be sure to read the ingredient list to make sure it does not contain anything to which you are allergic.
Topical hydrocortisone cream
A topical hydrocortisone cream may be a good option for cracked skin with red or itchy patches. This type of cream contains corticosteroids that reduce irritation and swelling.
Hydrocortisone creams are available in different strengths. The milder strengths are available as over-the-counter (OTC) treatments, which you can buy at your local pharmacy. You will need a prescription from your doctor for a stronger hydrocortisone cream.
Follow the package directions when using hydrocortisone. You can also combine this treatment with a moisturizer. First apply the hydrocortisone cream and put the moisturizer on top.
Before using topical hydrocortisone cream, it's best to talk to your dermatologist or health care provider to see if it helps your particular condition.
A liquid skin dressing can treat deeper skin tears. This over-the-counter treatment works by holding cracked skin together, which promotes healing.
To apply a liquid bandage, read the instructions on the package. With most liquid bandages, the liquid is applied with a small brush. The liquid dries and seals the skin.
Because the liquid bandage must adhere to the skin, avoid using it with other creams or ointments.
SuavePeelingIt can remove dead and dry cells from the skin's surface. This remedy is most commonly recommended for cracked feet and heels.
How to exfoliate your feet:
- Soak your feet in water for 20 minutes.
- Use a loofah or pumice stone to gently scrub dry skin.
- Pat dry and apply moisturizer.
- Exfoliate once or twice a week to start.
If you think you have athlete's foot, you can buy a topical fungal treatment such as terbinafine (Lamisil) and apply it to your feet.
If your cracked skin does not improve with self-care or home remedies, it may cause other problems. Possible complications are:
- deeper skin damage
- bacterial infections, such ascellulitis
- Pain when walking or standing
Mild cases of cracked skin can be treated at home. But if your cracked skin does not improve after 2 weeks of treatment, or if it worsens, you should definitely see your doctor.
You should also see a doctor if you have cracked skin that:
- full of pus
- become more red or irritated
- bite a lot
- accompanied by fever
If you are concerned about your chapped skin and do not yet have a dermatologist, you can consult through the doctors in your areaHealthline FindCare-Tool.
(Video) DO THIS FOR DRY, CRACKED HANDS #dermatologist @DrDrayzday
In many cases, cracked skin is caused by extremely dry, inflamed, or irritated skin. This happens when the skin loses so much moisture that it breaks down. Most people develop cracked skin on their feet, hands, and lips, but it can affect any part of the body.
You can usually treat cracked skin with remedies such as petroleum jelly, moisturizers, mild hydrocortisone creams, and liquid bandages. But if the cracking doesn't improve or if you have signs of infection, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.