Why are Dry Feet so Problematic?

Nov 28, 2022

The skin is the human body’s largest organ. Though skin is naturally hydrated by water and oil, skin can dry out and become the source of larger issues, including wrinkles, eczema, and psoriasis.

Dry skin (also known as xerosis) can cause discomfort by making your skin itchy, scaly, and flaky. Cracked skin may also result. Cracked skin can be especially prevalent on the hands, lips, elbows, and feet. Sometimes cracked skin can be so severe that it produces open sores. When this happens, it’s important to be cognizant of the fact that open sores are at risk of becoming infected.

In the case of dry feet, your skin may begin to feel not only dry, but also painful. In turn, this makes it difficult to walk, run, and even stand. However, the Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma has professional-grade products that help your skin. If you have dry or fragile skin, then consider Hydro-Cutis Cream for good “prescription strength” hydration and to soften the skin on your feet. For those really bad areas of thick heavy skin consider our “heavy duty” Kera-42 Urea Cream for severe areas of dryness.

Kera-42 can be used WITH Hydro-Cutis as well. You use both by using Kera-42 on the driest areas and rubbing in well. Then, then follow up with Hydro-Cutis for all the areas of your feet, even in the areas where you just put on the Kera-42. Using these products in addition to your skincare will help hydrate and soften problematic skin.

Now, let’s take a look at why dry feet are so problematic.

Diabetes and Neuropathy with Dry Feet

For most people, dry skin is generally harmless, but for people with diabetes and neuropathy, it’s just the opposite. Those who have been diagnosed with diabetes and/or neuropathy have nerve damage, which means that when the issue of dry, cracked skin arises, and an open sore ensues, they might not notice the sore because they have lost feeling in their feet. Not noticing an open sore makes it more likely for it to become infected.

In addition to nerve damage, most diabetes and neuropathy patients have poor circulation. Poor circulation makes it difficult for wounds—especially those located in the lower extremities—to heal properly and quickly. Again, this puts those with diabetes and neuropathy at greater risk of developing an infection. If an infection occurs, they will need to seek medical care and, most likely, begin to take antibiotics to clear the infection.

Consequently, if you do happen to have diabetes, our doctor comprehensively treats all diabetic foot issues including providing shoes and inserts that most every insurance covers. Even medicare patients with a good supplement usually don’t owe anything…making them basically free to you. Make sure to be getting your feet regularly checked and we can even test for bad circulation right in the clinic. All of this will help you keep your feet in top shape year-round! So don’t let something like dry feet trip you up!

Comparison of dry feet after one has been treated and the other has not

Causes of Cracked and Dry Feet 

One of the first signs of dry, cracked feet is the appearance of thickened skin, or calluses, located around the rim of your heel. When the cracks deepen, they can bleed and cause significant discomfort. 

There are numerous reasons why your feet—especially your heels—may become dry and cracked. They include: 

Dry Skin 

Dry skin occurs when your skin loses water too quickly and/or is stripped of its natural oils. When dry skin affects your feet, the skin around your heel can crack due to increased pressure. 

Prolonged Standing on Hard Floors 

Prolonged standing on hard floors increases the pressure on your heels. When this happens, the fat pad under the heel expands sideways and becomes prone to cracking.

Biomechanical Issues 

Your feet are truly unique to you. If you have any biomechanical issues that affect how you walk and/or stand, this may put added pressure on your heels. 


Obesity is a cause of dry, cracked feet because, once again, it puts excessive pressure on the fat pad under the heel. 

Open-Back Shoes and Sandals 

Wearing proper footwear is important for many reasons. Open-back shoes/sandals fail to provide adequate cushioning in the area under the heel, and when pressure on the skin is increased, dry skin can result. 

Walking Around Barefoot 

While walking around barefoot may seem harmless, it’s possible to contract a fungal infection such as athlete’s foot. A mild case of athlete’s foot can cause your feet to become dry, but a more severe case can cause cracks, blisters, and even inflammation. 


Do some of your family members have dry, cracked feet? If so, you may be more prone to developing it, too. It’s also worth noting that the genes that cause a condition called atopic eczema (which causes dry, flaky, and itchy skin) can be inherited.

Vitamin, Mineral, or Zinc Deficiency 

A vitamin/mineral/zinc deficiency can cause changes within your skin. When one or more of these deficiencies are present, your skin’s hydration levels may drop and you’ll begin noticing dry skin. 

Hormonal Imbalances 

It’s common for people with hormonal imbalances to develop dry skin. Women are especially prone to hormonal imbalances; when their estrogen production levels change due to age or other factors, dry skin can occur. 

Circulation Issues

Poor circulation can inhibit blood flow, especially to the lower extremities. When this happens, the skin does not receive the healthy supply of oxygen and nutrients it needs, and dry skin can become an issue.

Person rubbing lotion into their dry feet

Treatment and Prevention for Dry Feet

If you have dry, cracked feet, there are many options for treatment and prevention. They include: 

Lotions and Creams

As mentioned earlier, we have a store full of foot and ankle care products. Check out the Hydro-Cutis Cream and the Kera-42 Urea Cream as both will help with dryness and can even be used together for major repairs to your dry feet.

Foot Soaks 

Soaking your feet in water can provide significant relief. Consider adding some Epsom salts to the water to help exfoliate your feet.

Supportive Shoes

Wearing shoes that fit you well can help prevent dry, cracked feet. Also, be sure to wear socks with your shoes to prevent friction. 

Weight Loss 

Losing weight can decrease the pressure placed on your heels when you stand, walk, and perform other physical movements. 


A gentle exfoliant containing glycolic acid can soften and hydrate your skin without irritating it.


A great way to replace lost moisture is to take a five- to ten-minute bath in warm water. 


Hydration can go a long way in terms of preventing dry skin. Consider investing in products (including serums) that contain hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that can soothe and hydrate the skin. 

Contact Us for Help with Your Dry Feet!

At Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma, Dr. Darren Elenburg specializes in diagnosing and treating foot and ankle conditions in people of all ages. After completing a thorough evaluation of your feet and ankles, Dr. Elenburg will accurately diagnose your condition and then create a customized care plan that addresses your symptoms and offers you the relief you’re seeking. 

If you’re concerned about your dry feet, or any other issue concerning your feet/ankles, please give us a call at 405-418-2676 or visit us online. Our Oklahoma City office is conveniently located at 609 West Memorial Road. We’re ready to serve you and look forward to seeing you in our office soon!

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