Cracked Skin on the Soles of the Feet in Children: Care Instructions

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Cracked skin on the soles of the feet can occur when your child wears wet socks or shoes. The cracks can be deep and painful. Your doctor may call this "juvenile plantar dermatosis." The cracks tend to happen during cold weather when your child wears heavy socks and boots. Skin cracks can also happen when feet sweat during hot, humid weather or anytime socks or footwear keep moisture next to the skin.

Cracked skin often gets better on its own. But it can come back again. Using moisturizing creams often and keeping the feet dry can help heal cracks.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If your doctor prescribes medicine, use it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with the medicine.
  • Apply a moisturizing cream to the soles of your child's feet several times a day. Use over-the-counter products that your doctor suggests. These may include Cetaphil, Lubriderm, or Eucerin. Petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) also works.
  • At night you can apply petroleum jelly to your child's feet.
  • To prevent chapped skin from coming back, help your child avoid wearing moist shoes or socks. Have your child change into dry shoes and socks if their feet get damp. If needed, have your child change socks 1 or 2 times each day.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.