Cracked Or Dry Skin

Disponible En Espanol


Care at Home

  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Most often, cracked skin of the feet is caused by repeated contact with moisture. * The main cause is frequently wearing wet (or sweaty) socks. Swimmers also have this problem. * The soles of the feet are most often involved. Usually, you see cracks on the heels and big toes. * This is called tennis shoe or sneaker dermatitis. * Cracked, dry feet usually can be treated at home. * Here is some care advice that should help.
  • SHALLOW CRACKS - USE OINTMENT: * Cracks heal faster if protected from air exposure and drying. * Keep the cracks constantly covered with petroleum jelly 3 times a day. * If the crack seems mildly infected, use an antibiotic ointment instead. No prescription is needed. Put it on the cracks 3 times a day. * Covering the ointment with a Band-Aid or a sock speeds recovery. * Option: If you have it, a liquid crack sealer works even better. Don't use crack sealer and ointment together.
  • PREVENTION: * Change socks whenever they are wet or sweaty. * Take an extra pair of socks to school. * When practical, do not wear shoes. Go barefoot or wear socks only. * Do not use bubble bath or other soaps in the bath water. Soaps take the natural oils out of the skin. * Use a moisturizing cream on the feet after baths or showers. * Wear shoes that allow the skin to 'breathe'.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: * Most cracks heal over in 1 week with treatment. * Deep cracks heal if you keep them covered all the time with crack sealer. Deep cracks will heal in about 2 weeks with crack sealer.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Starts to look infected (redness, red streak, pus) * Cracks last more than 2 weeks on treatment * Your child becomes worse
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Cracked skin of the hands is usually caused by repeated contact with moisture. * Examples are frequently washing dishes or washing the hands often. * Soap removes the natural protective oils from the skin. * Cracked, dry hands usually can be treated at home. * Here is some care advice that should help.
  • SHALLOW CRACKS - USE OINTMENT: * Cracks heal faster if protected from air exposure and drying. * Keep the cracks constantly covered with petroleum jelly 3 times a day. * If the crack seems mildly infected, use an antibiotic ointment instead. No prescription is needed. Put it on the cracks 3 times a day. * Covering the ointment with a Band-Aid or a glove speeds recovery. * Option: If you have it, a liquid crack sealer works even better. Don't use crack sealer and ointment together.
  • DEEP CRACKS - USE LIQUID CRACK SEALER: * Deep cracks of the feet or toes usually do not heal with ointments. * Use a liquid skin bandage that will completely seal the crack. Many brands of liquid bandage are available. No prescription is needed. * Start with 2 layers. Put on another layer as often as needed. * As the crack heals, the plastic layer will be pushed up.
  • DEEP CRACKS - USE LIQUID CRACK SEALER: * Deep cracks of the fingers usually do not heal with ointments. * Use a liquid skin bandage that will completely seal the crack. Many brands of liquid bandage are available. No prescription is needed. * Start with 2 layers. Put on another layer as often as needed. * As the crack heals, the plastic layer will be pushed up.
  • PREVENTION: * Wash the hands with warm water. * Use soap only if the hands are very dirty. Also, use soap for anything that won't come off with water. * Wear gloves when washing dishes. * During cold weather, wear gloves outside. * Use a moisturizing cream on the hands after anytime they have been in water.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: * Most cracks heal over in 1 week with treatment. * Deep cracks heal if you keep them covered all the time with crack sealer. Deep cracks will heal in about 2 weeks with crack sealer.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Starts to look infected (redness, red streak, pus) * Cracks last more than 2 weeks on treatment * Your child becomes worse
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * The lips can become chapped in children from too much sun or wind. * If the lips become cracked, it's usually from a 'lip-licking' habit. * The skin around the lips can also become pink and dry. This occurs especially when children suck on their lips. * Here is some care advice that should help.
  • CHAPPED LIPS: * A lip balm should be used often, even hourly. * Be sure to put it on after eating or drinking.
  • AVOID 'LIP-LICKING': * Help your child give up the habit of lip-licking or sucking. * This habit usually is not seen before age 6. * This habit will only change if you can gain your child's active participation. * Appeal to your child's pride. Show your child in a mirror how lip-sucking has affected their appearance. * Give them a lip lubricant to put on their lips. Tell them to use it when they feel the urge to suck on them. Another option is to replace lip-sucking with chewing gum. * Offer an incentive for going an entire day without lip-sucking. Examples of rewards are money or points towards a prize. * Avoid any pressure or punishment. It will backfire, cause a power struggle and make the habit last longer.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Starts to look infected (redness, red streak, pus) * Cracks last more than 2 weeks on treatment * Your child becomes worse
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Dry skin is a common condition. * Mainly caused by too much bathing and soap (soap dermatitis). * Soap removes the skin's natural protective oils. Once they are gone, the skin can't hold moisture. * Dry climates make it worse, as does winter weather (called winter itch). * Genetics also plays a role in dry skin. * Dry skin is less common in teenagers than younger children. This is because the oil glands are more active in teens. * Here is some care advice that should help.
  • SOAP AND BATHING: * Young children with dry skin should avoid all soaps. Soaps take the natural protective oils out of the skin. Bubble bath does the most damage. * For young children, the skin can be cleansed with warm water alone. Keep bathing to 10 minutes or less. * Most young children only need to bathe twice a week. * Teenagers can get by with using soap only for the armpits, genitals, and feet. Also, use a mild soap (such as Dove). * Do not use any soap on itchy areas or rashes.
  • MOISTURIZING CREAM: * Buy a large bottle of moisturizing cream (avoid those with fragrances). * Put the cream on any dry or itchy area 3 times per day. * After warm water baths or showers, trap the moisture in the skin. Do this by putting on the cream everywhere after bathing. Use the cream within 3 minutes of completing the bath. * During the winter, apply the cream every day to prevent dry skin.
  • STEROID CREAM: * For very itchy spots, use 1% hydrocortisone cream. No prescription is needed. * Use up to 3 times per day as needed until the itching is better. * Eventually, the moisturizing cream will be all that you need for treating dry skin.
  • HUMIDIFIER: * If your winters are dry, protect your child's skin from the constant drying effect. * Do this by running a room humidifier full time.
  • PREVENTING DRY SKIN: * Don't use soaps or bubble bath. * Wash the hands with warm water. Use soap only if the hands are very dirty. Also, use soap for anything that won't come off with water. * Don't use swimming pools or hot tubs. Reason: Pool chemicals are very drying. * Run a humidifier in the winter if the air is dry. * During cold weather, wear gloves outside. This helps prevent drying of the skin. * Drink lots of fluids.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Dry skin lasts more than 2 weeks on treatment * Your child becomes worse

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