Cracked hands and feet can result from many things, including abrasion, weather conditions or a simple tendency towards dry skin. Lack of moisture is the primary cause. If you have cracked hands and feet and want to soften them, there are several steps you can take to reduce the problem and, possibly, keep the cracking from returning.
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Keep showers or baths under 10 minutes. Lengthy exposure to water removes essential oils from your skin and leads to dryness. While the occasional long, relaxing soak or rinse is acceptable as an occasional treat, your regular routine should be a brief shower or bath once daily.
Rub your heels with a pumice stone and your hands gently with a soft toothbrush while in the bath or shower. This removes the dead skin that can contribute to cracking. You can also try a product designed to exfoliate your hands and feet gently while showering or bathing.
Dab your skin dry lightly after your bath or shower. While it is still moist, rub on a thin layer of sesame oil. Concentrate on your knuckles, heels and any other areas prone to cracks. Sesame oil locks in moisture better than many lotions, which may contain chemicals that can irritate your skin.
Twice a week, spread a thin layer of petroleum jelly over your feet and hands, and put on lightweight cotton socks and cotton gloves prior to bed. Rinse your hands and feet in the morning with cold water and rub a bit of sesame oil over them after dabbing them dry. If your cracked hands and feet are caused by weather (harsh, dry winter air is a known culprit), apply the oil several times a day or as needed to keep cracks at bay.
For a soothing massage session at home, warm up some sesame oil for 10 to 20 seconds in your microwave until it is warm, but not too hot. Rub the oil into clean hands and feet.
If you continue getting cracks in your hands and feet after several weeks of treatment, see a dermatologist. Persistent cracking may be a symptom of a more serious skin condition.