Why Do My Feet Get Dry Even After Moisturizing?

The Dilemma of Dry Feet

Hey there, Curology! I’ve noticed something strange about my feet. Even though I religiously wash and moisturize them every night, they still end up dry and parched. It’s quite frustrating! Can you shed some light on why my feet stay dry even after moisturizing?

Suffering from Dry Feet

Understanding Dry Feet

Dry feet can be a real buzzkill when all you want to do is enjoy those carefree summer strolls or slip into your favorite sandals. But what exactly does “dry feet” mean? Well, it all depends on the root cause. Identifying why your feet are dry is the first step toward finding a solution.

At Curology, we specialize in skincare and licensed dermatology services, although we don’t specifically address dry feet. However, we have plenty of knowledge about dry skin, including dry feet. So here’s what we’ve learned and hope it helps you.

What Causes Dry Feet?

Dry feet can result from various factors, which tend to worsen during the dry and hot summer months. The skin on the soles of our feet lacks oil glands, making it prone to dryness. Plus, our feet endure more wear and tear compared to other parts of our bodies. Here are some common causes of dry feet:

  • Dry and Hot Weather: Warm, dry conditions can dehydrate the skin, including the skin on your feet. Walking around barefoot in such weather can also contribute to dryness.

  • Irritation: Continuous friction or rubbing on specific areas of the feet can lead to cracks and fissures. Prolonged standing or wearing ill-fitting shoes can worsen irritation.

  • Aging: As we age, the ability of our skin to retain moisture diminishes. This can contribute to dry feet.

  • Ingredients in Skincare Products: Some skincare products contain ingredients that can dry out the skin, such as denatured alcohol. Opt for gentle products with hydrating properties instead.

  • Underlying Medical Conditions: Various medical conditions, including diabetes and eczema, can affect the feet, leading to dryness and other related issues. We’ll delve deeper into medical conditions shortly.

  • Medications: Certain medications, like diuretics, can have side effects that dry out the skin, including the skin on your feet.

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Skin Conditions and Dry Feet

Several skin conditions, as well as treatments for certain medical conditions, can contribute to dry feet. If you’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition, it’s crucial to consult your medical provider or podiatrist before attempting any home remedies. Here are some conditions to be aware of:

  • Eczema: Eczema is characterized by localized skin inflammation and can manifest as dry, crusty, or itchy patches anywhere on the body, including the feet.

  • Athlete’s Foot: This fungal infection typically causes a scaly red rash, commonly appearing between the toes but also affecting the sole, sides, and tops of the feet.

  • Diabetes: Diabetes can damage the peripheral nerves and vascular supply to the feet, leading to scaly, flaky, dehydrated skin, cracked heels, and an increased risk of injuries due to reduced sensation and blood flow.

  • Hypothyroidism: This condition can cause dry feet, particularly on the soles, as the thyroid gland fails to regulate the factors that maintain the skin’s normal state.

  • Cancer Treatment: Some chemotherapy drugs can result in a condition called hand-foot syndrome. This syndrome causes redness, swelling, and blistering on the palms and soles.

Taking Care of Dry Feet

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why are my feet so dry and cracked?” don’t worry—you’re not alone. Dry feet are a common issue with numerous causes. Regardless of the underlying reason, here are some effective ways to care for your dry feet:

  • Cleanse: Use a moisturizing body wash regularly to cleanse your feet, removing dirt, dead skin cells, and buildup. Avoid products with denatured alcohol or fragrance to prevent further dryness or irritation.

  • Soak: Take a 5-minute lukewarm water soak to replenish moisture in your dry feet. You can add specific ingredients targeting foot problems, but consult your medical provider for recommendations.

  • Exfoliate: After bathing or soaking, consider using a konjac sponge or pumice stone to eliminate excess dead skin.

  • Moisturize: Don’t forget to apply moisturizer after cleansing and exfoliating. For best results, moisturize while your skin is still slightly damp after bathing. Opt for a rich cream, ointment, or Vaseline to deeply moisturize and protect your skin from moisture loss.

  • Overnight Foot Mask: Treat your extra dry, cracked, and rough feet with an overnight foot mask. Apply a thick moisturizing cream, cover with cotton socks, and let the mask work its magic while you sleep. Wake up to softer, hydrated skin.

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Preventing Dry Feet

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Follow these foot care tips from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) to help prevent dry feet in the first place:

  • Practice Proper Foot Hygiene: Thoroughly cleanse your feet, remove dead skin, and keep your skin hydrated.

  • Avoid Harsh Products: Use gentle soaps and moisturizers for your feet, avoiding those with harsh ingredients like denatured alcohol and added fragrance.

  • Limit Baths and Showers: Keep your footwashing expeditions short—around 5-10 minutes—to prevent excessive drying.

  • Wear Well-Fitting Shoes: Steer clear of ill-fitting footwear that can rub and irritate your feet, leading to calluses, cracking, and dryness.

Top Moisturizers for Dry Feet

If you find yourself wondering, “Why are my feet suddenly so dry?” it may be time to invest in a good moisturizer. With countless options available, we’ve narrowed down the list to some over-the-counter products recommended for dry feet:

  • Burt’s Bees Foot Cream: This cream deeply penetrates with nourishing botanicals, shielding your skin from dryness, cracks, and roughness.

  • Palmer’s Foot Magic: Formulated with vitamin E, natural emollients, and peppermint oil, this cream softens rough feet and revitalizes tired, achy soles.

  • Theraplex ClearLotion: A fast-absorbing emollient oil, perfect for moisturizing rough skin after showering or bathing.

  • Jergens Ultra Healing® Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer: Contains a unique plant protein complex that soothes and hydrates dry skin while increasing its moisture-retaining capacity.

  • CeraVe SA Cream for Rough & Bumpy Skin: Infused with salicylic acid, this cream gently exfoliates, softens, and smoothens rough and bumpy skin, delivering effective relief.

  • Eucerin Advanced Repair Foot Cream: Especially designed for very dry feet, this cream provides intense and long-lasting moisturization.

  • O’Keeffe’s Healthy Feet Foot Cream: Ideal for extremely dry, cracked feet, this cream boosts moisture levels and forms a protective barrier against further moisture loss.

  • Vaseline: You can never go wrong with good old Vaseline or pure petroleum jelly. It works wonders to seal in moisture and protect your feet from drying out.

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Get Expert Advice from Curology

While we can’t specifically address your dry feet, feel free to reach out to your Curology dermatology provider if you have any concerns about acne, anti-aging, hyperpigmentation, or rosacea. Not a Curology member yet? You can sign up for a free 30-day trial*.

Not ready for that just yet? Don’t worry! We’ve dug deep into our vault to provide information that can answer your dry skin-related questions, including topics like differentiating between dry and dehydrated skin, tips to heal dry and flaky skin, choosing the right moisturizers, and face sunscreen for dry skin. You can find all this useful information on our website.

Wishing you all the best,
Nicole Hangsterer, PA-C

P.S. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to! Here are some additional resources for you to dive into:

  1. Ely, J.W., et al. “Diagnosis and management of tinea infections.” American Family Physician. (2014, November 15).

  2. Aditya K. Gupta, MD, PhD. “The diabetic foot.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2004, March 1)

  3. Orak, D. “Evaluation of the Tolerance and Efficacy of a Body Cream, Body Wash, and Hand and Foot Cream in Relieving Dry Skin in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2019, October 1).

  4. Safer, J.D. “Thyroid Hormone Action on Skin.” Dermato-Endocrinology. (2011, July 1).

  5. Demarco, C. “Chemotherapy Side Effect: Hand-foot Syndrome (Palmar-plantar Erythrodysesthesia).” MD Anderson Cancer Center. (2021, March 11).

  6. American Academy of Dermatology. “How to Care for Dry, Cracked Heels.” (n.d.)

*Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary.

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