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Cracked Skin: How To Identify & Treat It

6 mins

Radhika Bhatia

Soft skin is our favorite skin, but what happens if our skin starts to crack? We’ve got the tips and tricks for identifying cracked skin and the best ways to treat it.

Everybody has experienced dry skin at some point in their lives. Whether it's from exposure to the cold, not enough moisturizer, or naturally dry skin, it’s totally normal for it to be dry once in a while.

But what happens when your dry skin turns into cracked skin?

Determining if your skin is cracked and how to treat it might seem like a pain, but we’ve got all the information you need to get your skin back on track and without cracks.

Table of content:

  • What Is Cracked Skin?
  • How Do I Know If I Have Cracked Skin?
  • What Causes Cracked Skin?
  • How Can I Treat Cracked Skin?
  • Topical Hydrocortisone Cream
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Antifungal Medication
  • Maintain Healthy Skin Moisture
  • Exfoliate Your Skin
  • Try To Catch It Early On
  • Be Gentle With Your Skin

What Is Cracked Skin?

Cracked skin is what happens when your skin becomes severely dry. Dry skin can typically become flaky and uneven, making it easier for minor cuts or dry patches to develop into deep cracks in your skin.

In fact, cracked skin can develop anywhere on your body, but the most common places for cracked skin are on your hands, feet, and face.

How Do I Know If I Have Cracked Skin?

The tell-tale difference between cracked and dehydrated skin are the mild to severe cracks on your skin. These can also be accompanied by additional symptoms, including redness, itching, irritation, discomfort, and dryness on the surrounding skin.

cracked skin

Many people who regularly experience severely dry skin may be more prone to developing cracked skin. Determining what is causing your skin to crack is the first step to figuring out how you can help treat it.

What Causes Cracked Skin?

Cracked skin can have a wide variety of different causes, from environmental factors to underlying health conditions. We’ve rounded up some of the most common causes of developing cracked skin.


  • Your skin needs to drink water, too! Well, maybe not only drink it, per se. Not maintaining proper hydration for your skin is one of the easiest ways for your skin to dry out and become at risk of cracking.


Rich moisturizers, like our Shea & Cocoa Butter Moisturizing Lotion for deep hydration, can help maintain healthy levels of hydration in your skin and build up your skin’s barrier to reduce the risk of cracking.


  • Prolonged Exposure to the Cold. Cold weather can be significantly drier than warmer temperatures. When you are exposed to cold air for a substantial amount of time, this can strip away your skin’s outside moisture and increase the likelihood of cracking.


Limiting your exposure to cold air or making sure your skin is adequately moisturized and protected from the elements can help maintain healthy hydration levels and prevent cracking.


  • Sun Exposure. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are a common cause of cracked skin. UV rays can break down your skin’s natural barrier and increase your risk of skin damage.


Spending too much time in the sun or not wearing enough sunscreen can cause your skin to lose moisture and natural oils, making it more likely that your skin will dry out and become cracked.


  • Harsh Chemicals. Many commercial soaps, lotions, detergents, household cleaners, and skincare products contain harsh chemicals that are not friendly to your delicate skin.


Changing your body wash, cleansers, moisturizers, and skincare products to cleaner, healthier alternatives with naturally derived ingredients can help protect your skin from cracking.

In addition, wearing cleaning gloves and washing your hands thoroughly after cleaning can ensure that harsh cleaning products do not come in contact with your skin long enough to cause damage. Just be sure to moisturize your hands after giving them a good scrub!


  • Excessive Heat. Just like over-exposure to cold can cause your skin to crack, excessive amounts of heat on your skin can weaken your skin and make it more susceptible to damage and cracking.


Exposure to hot water in your shower, handwashing, and sun exposure are all ways your skin can come into contact with excessive heat levels that can weaken your epidermis.

Warm water is the ideal temperature to maintain happy, healthy skin that can absorb moisture and maintain its integrity. If you do come into contact with hot water or higher air temperatures, make sure to care for your skin to reduce the severity of any damage that may have occurred.


  • Skin Conditions. Skin cracking is a common symptom associated with various skin conditions. These conditions may also be related to additional symptoms, including itching, redness, and swelling.


If you suspect that you may have an underlying medical condition causing your skin to crack, or if you experience any other skin symptoms that you are concerned about, talk to your dermatologist to determine what is causing your cracked skin and what you can do to treat it best.

  • Athlete's Foot. Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection for people who produce a lot of foot sweat and work long hours, leaving their feet vulnerable to developing this type of infection.

When the fungal infection begins to form, the increased moisture on your feet can cause the skin to become irritated and may form a red and itchy rash. This rash can cause your feet to dry out and crack when left untreated.

Maintaining good foot hygiene and potentially changing your socks during the day if you know you produce a lot of sweat may help to prevent an athlete’s foot from developing. Cleaning your shoes on a regular basis can also help promote healthy feet.

How Can I Treat Cracked Skin?

Treating cracked skin is not always a one size fits all solution. It depends on what you suspect is causing your skin to crack. For mild to moderate skin cracking, many home remedies can have just the trick to help treat cracked skin and avoid it in the future.

Topical Hydrocortisone Cream

Hydrocortisone cream is a type of steroid cream used to treat severely dry and irritated skin. Although hydrocortisone is a steroid, it is different from anabolic steroids. Hydrocortisone is rich with anti-inflammatory and pain-leaving properties that can help to soothe and repair cracked heels and skin.

Hydrocortisone cream should not be applied to the face unless recommended by a Doctor or Dermatologist.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is a mixture of oils and wax used to create a thick jelly that can be beneficial for treating cracked skin. Because of the oils in petroleum jelly, it penetrates the skin for deep hydration.

Petroleum jelly is an occlusive moisturizer, meaning it can help repair and maintain your skin’s barrier to protect it from external factors that may cause it to crack.

Antifungal Medication

If you suspect that your cracked skin is due to a fungal infection, then an antifungal medication can be beneficial to help reduce the infection and make it easier for your cracked skin to be repaired.

Tea tree oil can be used as a natural antifungal medication due to its powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties. Applying several drops to the infected area one to two times per day may help to minimize the severity of a fungal infection.

Remember to consult your healthcare provider before using any medication.

Maintain Healthy Skin Moisture

Regularly moisturizing your skin can help build up your skin’s natural barrier and protect it from any external factors causing your skin to crack.

Moisturizers with skin-supporting ingredients, including ceramides, essential vitamins and nutrients, and antioxidants, can help to strengthen your skin and repair cracks that may have formed.

Ointments and creams specifically formulated for severely dry skin can be very beneficial if you are prone to skin cracking. Look for keywords including “deep moisture” and “cracked skin” on your products to ensure they are the right fit for the task.

applying face cream, face cream

Exfoliate Your Skin

Removing dry, dead skin cells from your skin can help maintain your skin’s integrity and decrease the severity of cracked skin.

Our Ubtan Face & Body Scrub is gentle enough to be used on your delicate facial skin but strong enough to remove unwanted dead skin and make room for new skin cells to grow and repair.

face scrub, body scrub

Try To Catch It Early On

The earlier you notice that your skin is beginning to crack, the easier it can be to stop it in its tracks and start the repair process for your cracked skin.

If you notice that your skin has become drier than usual recently, or you were exposed to something that could be harmful to your skin, take extra precautions to ensure that your skin remains healthy and that you reduce the severity of skin cracking.

Be Gentle With Your Skin

While you should always be gentle and care for your skin, this is especially important if you are prone to itchy skin, cracks, or your skin has begun cracking.

Having a thorough skincare routine, using skin-friendly products, and taking the time to soothe irritated skin can help to strengthen your skin and treat any skin cracks you may have developed.

It is important to remember that you should never pick at your skin when it starts to crack. This can cause the cracking and skin irritation to worsen and may result in scarring where the cracks have occurred.

Speak to your dermatologist if you need help determining why your skin is cracking or if home remedies for skin cracking have not been working for you.

The Bottom Line

Nobody likes to experience cracked skin. It can be uncomfortable and hard to manage. Knowing what is causing your skin to crack and determining how you can help your skin are the first steps to getting your skin’s health back on track.

WOW Skin Science is all about getting the most natural, holistic, and clean solutions for your skin, hair, and health. We want you to feel good in your mind, body, and spirit so that all you can do is say “WOW.”



UV Radiation and the Skin - National Library of Medicine

Ceramides and Skin Function - National Library of Medicine

Tips To Break the Skin Picking Habit - Harvard Health Publishing

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Radhika Bhatia

I'm a content writer, copywriter, and blogger with a background in marketing, planning, and eCommerce. I specialize in beauty writing, including skincare, cosmetics, wellness, aesthetics, and health. Classically trained and idea-savvy, I love living in the present.

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