What Is Cracked Skin?
Cracked skin is a common symptom of dry skin; however, t it can also occur in response to scratches or infection. When your skin dries, it can become rough and flaky, with small tears that can lead to deeper cracks called fissures that may extend into the deeper layers of the skin.
Cracked skin may be accompanied by other symptoms of dry skin. Actually, one symptom often leading to another. For example, dryness can cause scaling, scaling can lead to itchiness, itching can lead to scratching, scratching can cause inflammation and small tears which can develop into fissures and these can lead to further irritation. Therefore, treating dry, injured or cracked skin promptly can help break this cycle.
What’s Causing Cracked Skin?
It’s possible to cracked skin due to environmental factors such as dry air during cold winter months. There are certain medical disorders that can also contribute to dry, cracked skin especially those which cause nerve damage, reduced sweating, or dehydration and other skin conditions.
Medical causes of cracked skin
Cracked skin can be caused by a number of medical conditions including:
- Atopy: It is allergic skin reaction.
- Anhidrosis in diabetes. It is a chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy
- Dermatitis: It is a skin inflammation which has many causes.
- Diabetic neuropathy: It is a nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes.
- Excess body weight: the extra pressure on the heels can cause the skin to crack.
- Ichthyosis: It is a hereditary disease characterized by scaly skin.
- Inadequate moisture content to skin
- Psoriasis: It is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales.
Non-medical causes of cracked skin
You can get cracked skin due to excessive exposure to external factors including:
- Cold weather
- Abrupt change in temperatures
- Excessive exposure to hot water, detergents, or harsh chemicals
- Forced-air heat
- Prolonged standing
- Walking barefoot
- Sandals, sling-back, or open-backed shoes.
Serious causes of cracked skin
In some cases, cracked skin can be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition which should be evaluated by your healthcare provider.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Diabetes: It is a chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy
- Hormonal imbalance
- Non-diabetic neuropathy
- Sjogren’s syndrome : it an autoimmune disease affecting the glands that produce sweat, tears and saliva.
Is There any Complication of Cracked Skin?
Cracked skin can lead to infections. In rare cases, if left untreated, skin infections can become systemic and lead to sepsis, a life-threatening bacterial blood infection. It is necessary that you treat any crack or opening in your skin to avoid complications. Cracked skin can be due to serious diseases, so failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. When the underlying cause is diagnosed, you need to follow the treatment plan that your doctor design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications that can include:
- Deep-tissue skin infections
- Deepening fissures
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Sepsis: life-threatening, bacterial, blood infection)
- Spreading skin infection
What Other Symptoms that may Occur with Cracked Skin?
Cracked skin can accompany other symptoms that affecting your skin which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. The most frequent symptoms that accompany cracks in the skin are scaling and itchiness, redness and dryness of the surrounding skin.
symptoms that may occur along with cracked skin
- Bleeding from raw, cracked skin
- Burning feeling
- Crumbling nails
- Crusting sores
- Itchy skin
- Redness, warmth or swelling
- Silver or white plaques
- Scaly Skin
Other symptoms that may occur along with cracked skin
- Excessive sweating
- Joint pain
- Loss of feeling in the feet and other symptoms of diabetes which is a chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy.
- Loss of sweating
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition
In some cases, if cracked skin is left untreated or if it occurs with other symptoms, that can indicate a serious condition that should be evaluated immediately. If you develop pus or the skin cracks deepen, if the skin in the affected area is red or feels warm, tender, throbbing or swollen, if the area is oozing, if you have cracks or deep fissures in your foot and you have diabetes, or if the skin on your lower legs becomes very scaly or develops a thick, rough texture, Seek immediate medical. Below are some serious symptoms:
- Chills with shaking
- Change of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
- Confusion or loss of consciousness.
- High fever
- Fainting or change in level of consciousness or lethargy
- Severe pain
Cracked Skin on Hands and Fingers
Due to wrong conditions, such as exposure to allergens, excessive washing or hereditary traits, your skin can be cracking and peeling. Hands and fingers are two of the most common sites of skin cracking that caused by most types of eczema.
Cracked skin on the hands and fingers can be caused simply by contact allergies, by frequent hand washing, or by using too little moisturizer. However, continued cracking, deep fissures, bleeding or no improvement with extra moisturizing can signify more serious skin condition, which is usually a type of eczema.
There are two types of eczema, atopic dermatitis and dyshidrosis. They are frequent causes of cracking skin on the hands and fingers. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, itchy rash which may be related to allergies and genetics and that worsens with dry air. It does not occur only on the hands, but affected skin on the hands and joint creases usually cracks without proper treatment. Dyshidrosis starts as itchy blisters and is common on the fingertips, palms and toes. When the blisters break, deep fissures and cracks become dry and bleed.
Home Remedies for Cracked Skin on Hands and Fingers
People commonly turn to home remedies as a first treatment of cracked skin. Wearing rubber gloves during dishwashing, moisturizing with kitchen oils such as olive oil, avoiding the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and using petroleum jelly after hand washing are some common attempts to treat cracked skin at home.
Medical Treatments for Cracked Skin on Hands and Fingers
Once itchy or dry skin has started cracking, a doctor’s visit is necessary to diagnose the type of skin condition and to start prescription treatment. Commonly, corticosteroid creams and ointments are first treatment; these drugs can decrease swelling, redness and itch at the site, which allows the cracked skin to begin healing. In some cases, topical antibiotic cream is required because the cracked skin bleeds and becomes infected with staphylococcus bacteria. Moreover, deep fissures common to dyshidrosis may require lactic acid lotion to shed the excess peeling skin and scar tissue. Application of any of these medications is required once or twice a day and may continue for weeks or months.
Medical treatment can reduce the flare of cracked skin in eczema; however, it is not enough to control the chronic or recurring nature of eczema. Your doctor may prescribe for you a detailed regimen of daily skin care in addition to drug treatment. This regimen is just as crucial to resolving cracked skin from any cause. Some aspects of routine care can include use of products such as Vaseline, Eucerin or Aquaphor to hold in any moisture on the skin and soothe dry areas; cool compresses on bleeding cracked skin, followed by moisturizer; and nighttime occlusion.
Treatment for cracked hands or fingers can be simple and short-term if there is a definite cause. However, cracked skin from a type of eczema may become a chronic skin condition that a person lives with for the rest of his life. A dermatologist is qualified to diagnose the cause of dry, cracked skin provide a specific care regimen. With proper care, cracked skin with deep fissures can become healthy again.
Cracked Skin around Toes
Cracked skin around the toes is commonly painful and can make it difficult to walk and engage in other daily activities. Commonly, cracked dry skin between the toes is not a sign of a serious condition, and you can treat the problem at home.
What’s Causing Cracked Skin around Toes?
One of the most common causes of cracked skin around the toes is athlete’s foot is a fungal infection. In some cases, athlete’s foot results from a soft corn, psoriasis, eczema or a bacterial infection. Moreover, symptoms of scabies, which is a condition caused by small mites that burrow under the skin’s surface, usually appear between the toes. Scabies causes dry, irritated skin which appears as a rash of red bumps.
Home Treatment of Cracked Skin around Toes
You need to keep areas of cracked skin between your toes dry to combating a fungal infection. Use a clean towel to dry between each toe after showering or sweating. Placing cotton balls or foam wedges between your toes will help prevent the infection from spreading and keep your feet dry. You should also apply a topical anti-fungal cream between your toes until your skin heals. Anti-itch creams and powders help reduce irritation while treating a fungal infection or scabies.
Medical Treatment of Cracked Skin around Toes
Over-the-counter products are very effective in clearing up athlete’s foot; however, you may need a prescription anti-fungal medication if the condition is severe or does not improve with at-home care. Your doctor will provide you with a topical or oral anti-fungal medication to clear up the cracked skin between your toes. If you suspect that you have scabies, see your doctor. Apply prescription creams for scabies to your body below the neck, unless directed to do otherwise. If you fail to cover your body in the cream, the mites can migrate to other areas of your body.
How to Prevent Cracked Skin around Toes?
To prevent fungal infection, Keep your feet clean and dry. Cotton socks will help absorb moisture to prevent irritating the skin between your toes. Make sure that your shoes fit properly and do not constrict your toes. Wear rubber sandals or stand on a paper towel in showers and avoid walking barefoot in public areas, such gyms. Use over-the-counter anti-fungal powders in your shoes to prevent fungus spores from growing in them.
When to Worry?
If you are diabetic, talk to your doctor about any problem you have with your feet before attempting to treat the condition at home. If you have recurring fungal infections, you need to make an appointment to see your doctor or a podiatrist to help you identify why the problem keeps coming back and to recommend an appropriate course of treatment.
Cracked Skin on Heels
Cracked heels or heel fissures are very common foot problem that experienced by many people. In most cases, the problem is a nuisance and unattractive to look at; however, when the cracks or fissures become deep, standing, walking or any pressure placed on the heel can be painful.
Who Gets Cracked Skin on Heels? What’s Causing Cracked Skin on Heels?
Anyone can get cracked heels but some people are more prone to the condition than others. For example:
- Atopic dermatitis
- Dry skin
- Juvenile plantar dermatosis
- Palmoplantar keratoderma
- Systemic conditions that dry the skin, including diabetes and hypothyroidism
Dry skin around the rim of the heel is the very first step towards cracked heels. Increased pressure on the fat pad under the heel causes it to expand sideways, leading to splitting or cracking of the callous. There are Some factors that contribute towards the callus cracking include:
- Prolonged standing
- Excessive weight or obesity
- Open-back shoes and sandals, as they provide no support to hold the fat pad under the foot
What are the symptoms of cracked Skin on Heels?
The first sign of getting cracked heels is the development of dry, thickened skin around the rim of the heel. This is called a callus and it may be yellow or dark brown discolored area of skin. Initially, the small cracks over the callus are visible. If left untreated, these cracks become deeper and eventually walking and standing will be painful. The cracks can be so deep that they begin to bleed.
In severe cases, cracked heels can become infected, and lead to cellulitis. This must be treated with elevation of the area, debridement of dead tissue, and antibiotics.
Cracked skin on heels are of particular concern for diabetic patients, who may suffer neuropathic damage (loss of feeling) because the fissures may lead to diabetic foot ulcers.
How to Treat Cracked Skin on Heels?
The best form of treatment for cracked heels is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This can be achieved by simply rubbing the heels with a moisturizing cream on a regular basis to keep the skin supple and hydrated. Special heel balms are available that contain descaling or water-retaining agents, such as:
- Alpha-hydroxy acids
- Salicylic acid
- Saccharide isomerate
Feet should be inspected daily and on the first sign of any cracking, a moisturizing 2-3 times a day can be all that is needed to heal the heel. A pumice stone can be rubbed gently against the callus to take away some of the thick hard skin before applying moisturizer.
The fissures can be treated with a liquid, gel or spray bandage to reduce pain, protect and allow more rapid healing.
For severely cracked heels or if no improvement is seen after a week of self-treatment, you need to visit your doctor. The treatments may involve the following:
- Strapping: bandage around the heel to reduce skin movement
- Debridement: cutting away hard thick skin
- Prescription for stronger softening or debriding agents.
- Insoles, heel pad or heel cups to redistribute the weight of the heel and provide better support .
- Special tissue glue to hold the edges of the cracked skin together so it can heal.