Cracked skin can be painful. Learn what causes this condition, treatment options, and how to keep it from returning so your skin stays soft and smooth.

right mark

Copied to Clipboard

wrong mark

Cracked Skin: Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

1/27/20238 min read

Do you suffer from cracked skin? If so, you are not alone. Many people experience dry, itchy, and painful cracks on their skin, which can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Thankfully, you can heal the cracks and restore your skin to its former glory.

Once your skin is healthy-looking again, you can take steps to prevent the cracks from coming back. Read on if you're ready to learn more about cracked skin and how you may be able to get rid of it for good.

Table Of Contents

Symptoms Of Cracked Skin

Woman with hydrated skin

First, let's look at the symptoms of cracked skin. Common signs you may be suffering from this condition include:

  • Flaking
  • Intense itchiness
  • Redness or discoloration
  • Pain in the impacted area or skin that’s tender to the touch
  • Oozing or bleeding visible cracks in your skin

If you notice any of these, then you may be dealing with cracked skin.

Where Does Cracked Skin Appear?

Cracked skin can appear on any body area, although it is most common on the hands and feet. You may also see cracks around your nails or in areas exposed to moisture or friction. The face, elbows, knees, and legs are also prone to cracked skin.

Causes Of Cracked Skin

Now that we know what cracked skin looks like, let's discuss why it happens. Below are a few potential culprits.

Environmental Conditions

The weather can affect your skin's condition. Prolonged exposure to cold and dry air can dry your skin and make it more vulnerable to cracking. Extreme temperatures and harsh winds can also contribute to this condition.

Overexposure To Water

Woman soaking in a tub

Though you want your skin to stay moist, being in the water too often or for too long can have a drying effect on your skin. Water submersion strips your skin of its natural oils, creating the perfect environment for cracking.

This is why you might experience cracks on your hands during cold and flu season when you're more likely to wash your hands frequently.

Dry Skin

When your skin is already dry, it is more prone to cracking. Dry patches can be caused by anything from age to genetics, a lack of moisturizer, or even hormonal changes.

Eczema

Some skin conditions, such as eczema, can also cause cracked skin. Eczema tends to make your skin dry and irritated, which can lead to cracks.

Psoriasis

Man with psoriasis on his arms

Psoriasis is another skin condition that can lead to cracked skin. Psoriasis causes your body to produce too many skin cells, which creates thick and scaly patches on your skin’s surface. These patches are prone to cracking and bleeding if not managed properly.

Diabetes

Though it’s primarily considered an endocrine disorder, diabetes can also cause skin problems. High blood sugar levels can damage your body's small blood vessels and reduce your skin's moisture. This can lead to dryness and cracking in some areas.

If you have diabetes, it's also essential to get medical care for any calluses or corns on your feet. If you don’t, the thick skin in these areas can open and turn into deep cracks that can become infected quickly.

Athlete’s Foot

This fungal infection can cause cracked and painful skin, especially between the toes. It is essential to treat this condition quickly to minimize the damage it can do to your skin.

Contact With An Irritant

Sometimes, cracked skin is caused by coming into contact with an irritant. This could include perfume, lotion, or even clothing detergent with harsh ingredients.

If you start to notice any signs of cracked skin after using a new product or changing your laundry routine, it might be worth looking into.

Healing Skin Cracks

Now that you know some of the causes of cracked skin, let’s talk about how you can improve it.

Apply Moisturizer

One of the best ways to heal cracked skin is by applying a gentle moisturizer. Look for one with ingredients that are designed to restore your skin's natural barrier and lock in moisture.

Once you find a quality moisturizer, apply it regularly. Use the product immediately after washing your hands or taking a bath to give your skin some extra love.

Try Home Remedies

If you prefer a DIY approach, here are three simple home remedies.

Oatmeal Bath

Add a cup of powdered, colloidal oatmeal to your bathwater for an extra-gentle soak. Just remember not to stay in the water for too long. Only soak for 10-15 minutes so you don’t accidentally cause more damage to your skin.

Honey Mask

Honey is a natural humectant that helps your skin retain moisture. If your face is cracked, use raw honey as a mask and leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a terrific choice for many skin conditions, including cracking. Slather it on cracked areas to get some relief and lock in moisture.

If you don't like the greasy feeling, look for moisturizers that contain coconut oil as an ingredient.

Use Topical Creams

Woman applying cream to cracked heels

If your skin is particularly dry or cracked, you may need to use a topical cream with stronger ingredients. Look for creams containing hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides to help restore the moisture barrier.

Treat Other Conditions

If you're dealing with a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, treating it can help improve your cracked skin. For eczema, try our line of eczema products. They're formulated to help improve your skin over time.

For example, our Eczema Daily Calming Cream is a thick moisturizing cream that can help reduce itch and irritation caused by eczema.

And if you have psoriasis, you'll want to check out our psoriasis products, such as our Psoriasis Soothing Spray. The lightweight and oil-free formula means you can apply it easily throughout the day.

Seek Medical Advice

If you’re noticing any signs of cracking that aren’t improving with home treatment, talk to your doctor. They may be able to prescribe an ointment or cream to help heal the cracks and prevent infections, such as cellulitis.

And, of course, if you notice any worsening pain, swelling, or redness in the area, get to a doctor right away. These are all signs of infection; you may need antibiotics or other medications to help clear it up.

Preventing Cracked Skin

Once you get your skin back into shape, it’s essential to prevent cracked skin from returning. Here are four simple tips:

1) Cover The Area

Woman bundled up in the winter

If you know an area of your body is prone to cracking, try covering it when you’re outside. For example, wear socks and shoes on concrete or hard surfaces to reduce friction. Or wear gloves when it's cold out to protect your hands from chilly temperatures.

2) Choose Gentle Products

When shopping for skincare products, look for gentle formulas that won't dry out or irritate your skin. Avoid fragrances, dyes, and witch hazel, as these can be too harsh for sensitive skin.

You'll also want to pay attention to the ingredients in your cleaners and laundry detergents. Make sure they're free from harmful chemicals, such as bleach, that can strip your skin of its natural oils and cause skin irritation.

3) Run A Humidifier

Dry air often plays a role in cracked skin. To help keep the air moist, consider running a humidifier in your home or office. Not only will it help keep your skin hydrated, but it may also make breathing easier.

Ideally, you'll want the relative humidity in the room to stay between 30-50%. Many modern HVAC units come with a humidifier setting, so check your owner’s manual to see how you can adjust the humidity level.

4) Make Simple Lifestyle Changes

Some of your daily habits may contribute to cracked skin. So, it’s good to look at what you’re doing to see if there are any changes you can make.

For example, if you're a big fan of long, hot showers or baths, try reducing the water temperature and limiting your shower time. Doing this will help keep your skin’s natural oils intact.

You can also make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day and eat a healthy diet rich in good fats. These changes will help keep your skin hydrated.

Your sleep routine also matters. Getting enough rest may help keep your body and skin functioning properly, while too little sleep can contribute to dryness and inflammation.

Hit The Road, Cracks, And Don’t Come Back!

A person with dry, cracked skin on their hands

Cracked skin doesn't have to be a permanent fixture in your life. You can keep it at bay with the right treatment and lifestyle changes, and then get on with your life.

If psoriasis or eczema are contributing to your cracked skin, you may want to consider choosing Bodewell products to help. With gentle ingredients that rely on plant-based healing power, you'll notice better skin over time.

Say goodbye to cracks and hello to healthier-looking skin!

Sources

American Academy of Dermatology Association
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
NHS Inform

Shop Bodewell