Cracked skin anywhere on your body can be painful and debilitating. For a number of reasons, the extremities of your body -- hands and feet -- are at risk for the development of cracked skin under certain conditions. Circulation to these areas may be poor, and there may be pressure on the skin from footwear or manual work. Dry skin, also known as xerosis, is relatively common and may lead to skin cracking.
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There are several possible causes of cracked skin on the heels or fingers. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons reports that some common causes of cracked heels are open-backed shoes such as sandals or flip-flops, or being overweight. Additionally, cracked heels may be a sign of other underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or autonomic neuropathy -- a loss of nerve functioning.
To prevent cracked heels, wear footwear with a closed back and lose any excess weight that is placing strain on your feet and heels. Also ensure that the back of your shoes is not causing undue friction on the rear of your foot and heel area. For your fingers, keep your hands dry and protected from cold weather with gloves. Protect them from the sun with sunscreen. Keep your heels, hands and fingers well moisturized with a relatively rich moisturizing cream in order to prevent or reduce cracking of the skin.
If cracked skin anywhere on your body progresses so that there is an open sore, you should schedule an appointment with a specialist. An open sore on the heel Medical News Today, cracked heels may be particularly prone to infection -- you should seek medical treatment if you suspect your heel is infected.
Cracked skin, particularly on the fingers, may be caused by environmental factors, your daily activities or even your job. Cracked skin on the hands is noted to be an occupational hazard for people who work with their hands -- dental assistants, for example, may experience cracking of the hands and fingers, which is made worse by wearing protective gloves or by winter weather. Jobs in which your hands are continually wet, such as washing dishes, may also contribute to cracked skin on your fingers.
Because cracked skin may indicate any one of several potentially serious underlying medical conditions, it is important you seek individual medical advice and receive a diagnosis regarding your cracked skin symptoms before attempting any treatment of a specific condition. The treatment for any given condition may not work for another, different condition, and may even make symptoms worse. Always consult your own doctor if you are concerned about ongoing physical symptoms.