What causes cracked skin?
Cracked skin can happen when your skin barrier is compromised. Usually, there’s a symptom of dry, extremely dry, inflamed and irritated skin which happens when your skin loses so much moisture that it breaks down. Most people develop cracked skin on their hands, feet and lips and can be managed with home remedies like George’s Special Dry Skin Cream, liquid bandages and mild hydrocortisone creams. If your cracked skin is severe, or if you have any complications, it’s best to make an appointment and see your doctor as soon as possible.
Dry skin or xerosis, is the most common cause of cracked skin.
In smooth and hydrated skin, natural oils prevent the skin from drying out by retaining moisture. But if your skin doesn’t have enough oil, it loses moisture. This makes your skin dry out and shrink, which can lead to cracking.
Dry skin may be caused by:
- Cold weather- In the winter, low humidity and temperature can dry out your skin. Indoor heating also decreases the humidity in your home. Dry climates make dry skin worse as does winter weather called winter itch.
- Excess moisture- When your skin is constantly exposed to moisture, it can actually cause your skin to become irritated and dry out. This can happen to your feet after swimming a lot and/or wearing wet or sweaty socks for too long. This is because water is an irritant to the skin and is called tennis shoe dermatitis. Deep cracks are very painful and can bleed.
- Genetics- also plays a role in dry skin.
- Keratosis Pilaris- Dry, rough, bumpy skin on the back of the upper arms. It’s made worse by harsh soaps.
- Pityriasis Alba- Dry pale spots on the face. These are more prevalent in the winter time and are also made worse by harsh soaps.
- Chemical irritants- Many products like dish soap and laundry detergent can contain harsh chemicals. These substances can damage your skin’s barrier and cause dryness.
- Hot water- The hot water from showers or washing dishes can reduce your skin’s moisture.
- Medication- Dryness may be a side effect of some drugs, like topical retinoids.
Complications of cracked skin
If your cracked skin doesn’t get better with self-care or home remedies, it can lead to other problems. Possible complications include:
- bacterial infections, like cellulitis
- deeper skin damage
pain while walking or standing
Preventing Dry Skin
- Don’t use soaps or bubble bath.
- Wash the hands with warm water. Use soap only if the hands are very dirty. Also, use soap for anything that won’t come off with water.
- Don’t use swimming pools or hot tubs. Reason: Pool chemicals are very drying.
- Run a humidifier in the winter if the air is dry.
- During cold weather, wear gloves outside. This helps prevent drying of the skin.
- Drink lots of fluids.
Gentle exfoliation can remove dead, dry cells from the surface of your skin. This remedy is most often recommended for cracked feet and heels.
To exfoliate your feet (once or twice a week to start):
- Soak your feet in warm water for 20 minutes.
- Use a loofah or pumice stone to gently scrub away the dry skin.
- Pat dry and apply George’s Special Dry Skin Cream liberally.
Since dry skin can cause or worsen cracking, it’s important to keep your skin well hydrated. You can do this by frequently applying an ultra hydrating and fragrance-free moisturizer like George’s Special Dry Skin Cream recommended by physicians, pharmacists, caregivers and dermatologists.
Effective and easy-to use, George’s Cream is formulated to provide immediate long-lasting relief for dry and every dry skin to help retain moisture and restore your skin’s barrier to keep it hydrated and healthy-looking.
Apply the moisturizer on any dry or itchy area two to three times a day, including immediately after bathing. Focus on the driest parts of your body. During the winter, massage the cream into your skin every day to prevent dry skin.
When to see a doctor
You should also seek medical attention if you have cracked skin that’s:
- filled with pus
- becoming redder or more irritated
- intensely itchy
- accompanied with a fever and looks infected
- cracks on feet that make it difficult to walk
Mild cases of cracked skin can be treated at home. However, if your dry, cracked skin doesn’t get better after 2 weeks of treatment, or if it gets worse and you’re concerned, be sure to see your doctor.