Why do I have cracked feet?

What causes cracking of the feet after using certain bar soaps?

Dear Doctor,

What causes cracking of the feet after using certain bar soaps? Dominique

Dear Dominique,

A bar soap may smell good and you would have seen or heard its benefits in advertisements. But it does contain chemicals which can cause dryness of the skin including the feet and lead to cracked feet. One such chemical is sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). It is extremely harsh, causing dryness of the skin. Others are triclosan and chemicals present in dyes used in soap for colouring that cause extreme dryness. Lye (a watery mixture of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide and some animal fat), used in soap making is corrosive and irritating to the skin and if one is not careful, it can cause cracked feet. People tend to use moisturising creams and lotions all over the body, except the feet. Hence, anything causing dryness of the skin hits the feet to the maximum.

Hot water used for a bath also depletes the moisture of the skin causing cracked feet. Same thing happens in a cold dry climate. Obesity causes the heel pad of the feet to expand more due to the sheer weight put on it every day. Diabetes eczema, hypothyroidism, are medical disorders associated with cracked feet.

One needs to give attention to the feet as they do the face. Avoid soaps with harsh chemicals and very hot water when taking a bath. Rub a good moisturising lotion or cream on the feet after a bath when they are still damp.



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