How Do I Treat Chapped Feet?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2015
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Chapped feet can be treated by soaking the feet is warm water and then moisturizing them. Dry, cracked feet are usually not caused by dry skin, but by exposure to the elements or improper care. Soaking chapped feet in a foot bath of warm water and mild soap will soften and loosen dead skin. After the skin has been softened, a pedicure brush can be used to scrub the feet, followed by a gentle rub with a pumice stone. The feet should then be rinsed and thoroughly dried and slathered with moisturizer.

Cracked feet generally respond to warm foot soaks and moisturizing, however, feet that are severely cracked should be evaluated by a podiatrist. This is especially true when they are severely chapped, or when the patient has a diagnosis of diabetes. Diabetic patients are prone to foot ulcers and delayed wound healing, so their foot care should be performed only by a medical professional.

Petroleum jelly is an effective lubricant for chapped feet. Applying petroleum jelly on the heels of the feet and covering them with soft cotton socks overnight greatly relieves chapped feet and restores them to their original suppleness. Also, applying moisturizer or petroleum to the feet on a daily basis can stave off dryness and chapped feet. When chapped feet result in breaks in the skin, the possibility of infection rises.


Signs of a foot infection related to cracked feet include redness, inflammation, and irritation. Sometimes, an increase in temperature over the affected area occurs, as does the formation of pus. When signs of a foot infection appear, the health care provider needs to be notified. Treatment for a foot infection caused by cracked feet include a topical or oral antibiotic and special moisturizing agents to hasten healing.

Getting frequent pedicures can sometimes prevent chapped feet or cracks in the feet. The client needs to make sure that pedicure instruments are sterile so that the risk of infection is minimized. If preferred, instruments from home can be brought into the salon to use instead. Wearing sling-back shoes or flip flops or going barefoot can increase the risk of chapped or cracked feet, and should be avoided.

Feet that are scaly or otherwise look abnormal may be indicative of a fungal infection. A fungal infection can also cause the toenails to thicken and turn yellow or green. If these symptoms occur, a podiatrist or other health care professional should be consulted to rule out a fungal infection. Treating a fungal infection includes the use of topical anti-fungal preparations, and in some cases, taking oral anti-fungal medications.


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