Cracked Feet: 7 Alarming Reasons The Skin On Your Feet Might Be Rough And Broken

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is the Senior Editor of Branded Content at Wild Sky Media. She grew up in upstate New York and Oregon and now lives in Queens, NY. Ileana graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in sociology. After graduating, she attended the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, then worked as in marketing at Oxford University Press. Since transitioning to editorial, she has written for BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Woman's World. She has also worked for local newspapers and magazines in upstate New York. In her free time, you can find Ileana watching Law & Order: SVU, eating ice cream, and spending time with her dog.

When I was a kid, I was always jealous of my friends who could walk around barefoot outside. My feet were so sensitive that it always hurt too much to go shoeless.

Over the years, I’ve become grateful for my soft feet. Unfortunately, like many people, my feet have gotten rougher and drier as I’ve gotten older. Of course, the more time we spend on our feet each day, the thicker the skin becomes. This can make our feet feel scaly and tough.

Anytime my heels start to get too rough and dry, I usually head to the nail salon to get a pedicure. But I never realized that having dry, peeling, or cracked feet could actually be a symptom of something much more serious.

Having cracked feet can be annoying, but most of us just toss on a little lotion and ignore it. Find out more about the surprising and alarming reasons you have cracked feet below.

Thumbnail Photo: Wikimedia / James Heilman, MD

Why Do Feet Peel And Crack?

why feet peel
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Everyone’s feet can get rough and dry from time to time, so it’s totally normal for them to crack and peel.

The pounding from walking and exercising can make your feet start peeling or cracking.

If your feet seem to be more cracked than usual, though, it could be a sign of something more serious.

Surprising Reasons Feet Peel And Crack
#1: Dehydration

Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

One relatively common reason your feet might be peeling is dehydration.

If your body doesn’t have enough water, skin all over will dry out and flake off; the skin on your feet is no exception.

#2: Sweaty Feet

sweaty feet
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If you spend a lot of time exercising or doing other activities that make you very sweaty (or if you have hyperhidrosis), it could cause your feet to crack and peel.

Hot, sweaty feet are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause problems for your feet.

#3: Sunburns

Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Most people don’t think much about their feet when heading outside to spend time in the sun, but your feet — like other parts of your body — can get sunburned.

If your feet burn, they can blister and peel like other sunburns.

#4: Eczema

feet eczema
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a condition that makes skin red and itchy.

Some of the other symptoms of eczema include dry, thickened, scaly, and cracked skin.

Eczema can affect any part of the body and tends to flare up from time to time.

#5: Fungal Infections

fungal infections
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Fungal infections happen all over the body, but when they occur on the feet, they’re typically referred to as athlete’s foot.

Athlete’s foot has a variety of symptoms, including itching and burning, redness and blisters, and peeling, scaling, and cracking feet.

#6: Psoriasis

feet psoriasis
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Psoriasis is the skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. The resulting extra skin cells create red, scaly patches.

The condition may also cause dry, cracked skin, which may even bleed.

#7: Contact Dermatitis

contact dermatitis
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Contact dermatitis, which is a rash or allergic reaction caused by contact with a certain substance, is also a potential cause of dry, cracked skin.

Other symptoms of contact dermatitis include a red rash, blister and bumps, swelling and tenderness, and itching and burning.

When To See A Doctor

when to see a doctor
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If you experience dry, itchy, cracked, peeling, or rough skin that doesn’t seem to clear up on its own, set up an appointment with your doctor.

Did you know that there could be serious conditions behind your cracked skin? Please SHARE this article with your friends!