How to treat dry skin on feet

Updated March 21, 2017

Dry skin on the feet may be caused by normal ageing, according to the Merck Manual of Geriatrics, or by more serious conditions. Diabetics develop dry skin on the feet when the nerves that control the moisture of the foot no longer work properly. Dry skin may also be caused by reduced blood flow to the feet from occlusive peripheral arterial disease. The focus of treatment at home is to avoid infection and damage to the skin of the feet.

Wash feet with mild soap in lukewarm water to avoid damaging the skin.

Dry feet thoroughly with a clean towel. Pay particular attention to the areas between the toes.

Check your feet carefully for cracks or breaks in the skin. Use a handheld mirror to help you see all of the surfaces, including the areas between the toes.

Apply lotion, petroleum jelly, oil, or lanolin to your feet, but avoid the areas between your toes.

Slip clean, dry socks over the lubricated feet to avoid rubbing the lotion or oil off on the sheets or other surfaces.

Reapply lubricant several times a day as needed.


Avoid using antiseptics on your feet as they may damage the skin.

Soaking your feet can dry the skin out further.

Applying creams or lotions between the toes can increase the risk of infection because it keeps the area moist.


If you are diabetic, contact your health care provider if you develop blisters, cuts or sores on your feet. Even if you have no breaks in the skin, have a podiatrist examine your feet twice a year to look for infections and signs of nerve damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Mild soap
  • Lukewarm water
  • Towel
  • Mirror, optional
  • Lotion, petroleum jelly, lanolin or oil
  • Dry socks
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About the Author

Marcy Brinkley has been writing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Chicken Soup for the Soul," "Texas Health Law Reporter" and the "State Bar of Texas Health Law Section Report." Her degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; a Master of Business Administration; and a Doctor of Jurisprudence.