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What Causes Dry Skin between Toes and How to Prevent It
Dry skin between toes is a common problem, yet it is worth some attention. If you come to think of it, your feet are probably the most neglected part of your body when it comes to grooming and caring. That’s true for most of us. Our feet take the entire burden of our bodies, are often caked with dust, parched in the sun, and squeezed inside ill-fitting footwear. We still ignore them until a problem, like skin peeling between toes, is seen.
Dry skin between toes may not be an alarming issue. But it is important to realize that it may be a symptom of an underlying skin condition, and if left untreated, it may worsen over time. So let us try to find out what causes dry and peeling skin between your toes and how to get rid of it.
Table of Contents:
- What causes dry skin between toes?
- Athlete’s Foot
- Irritant/ Shoe contact dermatitis
- Dyshidrotic eczema
- Trench Foot
- How to treat dry skin between toes?
- Keep your feet clean and dry
- Change your socks regularly
- Avoid materials you are allergic to
- Do not walk barefoot in public facilities
- Wear well-fitting, breathable footwear
- Are home remedies and proper foot care enough?
- Good creams / body butters for dry skin
What causes dry skin between toes?
There are several reasons why you may be seeing cracked or peeling skin between your toes. It may be environmental, due to a general lack of grooming and foot hygiene, in which case it can be easily addressed by maintaining a good foot care routine.
Or it may be dermatological, in which case, you might need to consult a physician. Here are some of the dermatological conditions that may cause dry skin between toes.
If your problem is dermatological, it is most likely Athlete’s Foot, as this is one of the most common conditions you’ll come across. Somewhere between 3 to 15% of the population are affected by it. Athlete’s Foot is an infection that usually begins around the toes before it spreads to other parts of the foot. It might start as a red rash that slowly turns into an itchy patch of dry, flaky skin.
Athlete’s Foot is very contagious and can be contracted from warm and humid places like saunas, spas, gym locker rooms, public pools, or showers. It can also come from sharing clothes or footwear with someone who already has the condition. People with diabetes have a higher risk of getting such infections.
Irritant/ Shoe contact dermatitis
Shoe contact dermatitis, also sometimes called irritant contact dermatitis, is caused by contact with certain irritants / materials used in manufacturing shoes. These include leather, rubber, certain adhesives, nickel, formaldehyde, certain dyes, etc. You may be allergic to one or more of these materials resulting in redness, swelling, itchiness, and cracked skin on your feet.
Psoriasis is another skin condition that causes redness, itchy, dry and cracked skin, and even bleeding in some cases. Unlike most other skin conditions though, psoriasis is not caused by an infection. Research is still ongoing on the actual cause of the condition, but it is probably caused by an autoimmune response where the immune system attacks healthy skin cells.
There is no permanent cure for psoriasis, but it can be controlled with timely treatment.
Dyshidrotic eczema is another form of atopic dermatitis that can result in blisters, redness, severe itching, cracked, flaking, or peeling skin, and pain. It may occur because of contact with metals you are allergic to, seasonal allergies, or stress.
Trench Foot is caused when your feet are soaked in water or wet for too long. It is also called immersion foot. This can happen if you are wearing wet socks or wet shoes for a long time, or if you are working in water for extended periods. It initially causes itchy, tingling, and painful blisters, but the skin can later dry and peel off if left untreated.
There may be other reasons behind dry skin between toes that peels off later, but these are some of the most common causes you will come across.
How to treat dry skin between toes?
Though most of the conditions we have mentioned above are caused by allergic reactions or existing skin problems, they can be avoided with some care and proper hygiene. If you notice any dry patches or peeling skin between your toes, the first thing to do is consult a good dermatologist and get it diagnosed. This will help you better understand what’s causing the problem in the first place, so you can start treatment at the earliest.
Apart from that, you can also follow a healthy foot care routine to ensure that you don’t contract a skin infection or prevent it from getting worse.
Here are a few things you can do at home.
Keep your feet clean and dry
The first thing to ensure is that you always keep your feet clean and free from moisture. Make sure to wash your feet well every day, with a medicated soap if necessary or with plain water. If you already have dry, flaky skin between your toes, you should get a good foot and body scrub for yourself. Scrubbing will help remove the dead skin for deeper cleaning.
After you wash your feet or leave the shower, make it a point to dry your feet thoroughly with a towel. Reach between your toes and ensure that no water is left behind.
There are several foot powders available that act as antibacterial and antifungal while also preventing sweating of feet. You may want to dust your feet with an antifungal powder before you wear your socks every day to keep them dry for longer.
Change your socks regularly
Sweat and grime can build up on your socks in a few days that will make it convenient for fungus and bacteria to thrive. So, make sure to change your socks every day, or at least every alternate day. Wash them well and dry them in the sun.
Avoid materials you are allergic to
In the case of skin allergies, as they say, prevention is better than cure. If you know you’re allergic to some materials, it is best to avoid those. For instance, if you are allergic to rubber, avoid wearing rubber slippers. Go for cotton ones instead or woven slip-on shoes that are also more breathable.
Do not walk barefoot in public facilities
Public places like swimming pools, gyms, saunas, spas are the places that have the highest chances of being contaminated with bacteria or fungi. Walking barefoot in these places increases your risk of contracting skin infections. Always wear shoes or slippers when you are outdoors.
Wear well-fitting, breathable footwear
Your footwear plays a vital role in your feet health overall. Wearing comfortable footwear that fits you well, provides good support, and allows air circulation is best to avoid skin conditions due to excessive sweating or friction.
Are home remedies and proper footcare enough?
As long as your skin problem is not too grave, a little care can go a long way to improve the condition and prevent further damage. In many cases, with grooming and home remedies, the dry skin between your toes might get cured with time. If it persists or is causing you discomfort, though, you might want to consult a doctor who would ideally prescribe topical medication.
For beautiful feet, follow a bedtime routine of washing, scrubbing, and moisturizing.
Washing will remove all the dust and dirt from your feet. You can wash with plain water or soap. Next, scrubbing removes the dead skin cells and leaves your feet soft and smooth. To complete this routine, use a good body lotion or cream to moisturize your feet. Without moisturization, washing and scrubbing alone can further dry out your skin.
Good creams / body butters for dry skin
Creams and body butter can be rich and heavily moisturizing. Since the skin on our feet is relatively thicker, a heavy moisturizer is more effective.
Here’s what you can try.
When it comes to skincare, nothing beats good old coconut oil. Coconut oil is not only hydrating, but it also has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Before you go to bed, slather your feet with coconut oil, massage a little, put a pair of socks on, and get a good night’s sleep.
Shea butter is another extremely rich moisturizer and is packed with Vitamins A, B, and E which promote skin health. The Raw African Shea Body Butter from WOW Skin Science has the goodness of both shea and sweet almond oil.
Smother your washed and scrubbed feet with a generous amount of body butter and put on your socks before bed. You will feel the difference when you wake up the next day.
Not a fan of shea? Pick any other moisturizer of your choice from our collection of 100% natural and vegan creams and body oils to soothe irritated, dry skin and say hello to happy feet.