Re: extremely cracked feet & hands
Dry, cracked heels and hands means the body's natural oils have been lost. Extremely dry skin will result in what is happening to your mother. But then, considering what your mother had gone through and stress can cause a host of problems. Maybe but you might want to take this to a dermatologist.
Bathing frequently especially in hot water, live in a dry climate, wash hands alot using harsh soaps, wear wet shoes/socks. Being outside in winter when the humidity is low, swim often OR have allergies....can result in this.
I live in the Southwest desert where it is quite dry. We raise animals and wash our hands frequently. Some years ago, my husband changed soaps and I had an allergic reaction to it. My palms were stripped of their oils resulting in very thick/itchy skin that cracked deeply. Then I contracted a fungul infection from handling moldy hay without my leather gloves. This resulted in constantly appearing painful splits in my fingers, tips and palms. Could barely use them. I also developed a rash from the same stuff.
The fungus was finally take care of with a powerful fungicide in pill form to root it out. A horrible lesson in remembering to keep my gloves on while handling hay.
But the combination of dry weather, fungus and harsh soap took a toll on my hands. Although changing soaps helped, my left palm still gets very dry/itchy in the late Spring through the Summer when humidity is lowest. The natural oils have not fully returned as they had on my right hand. I have to use rubber gloves while washing dishes as hot water/detergent is too much for them now. I use Shea butter and Tea Tree based lotions for my hands. Any hand lotion with cetyl alchohol will dry them out badly.
I am post menopausal and with the lessening of estrogen that will cause a drying of the skin sometimes. Especially on the bottoms of the feet where they can become "leathery" feeling. I have this problem and last month my heels cracked as the skin there thickened. However I used some zinc ointment and that seemed to help in my case. After they healed, I have been using petroleum jelly to keep the bottoms of my feet/heels supple.
Take shorter, less frequent baths and use cool or lukewarm water instead of hot.
Avoid letting the bar float or sink in the tub and dissolving too much.
Avoid soaping on itchy areas.
Avoid soaps altogether except for special moisterizing soaps made for dry skin.
Avoid bath oil except right after bathing.
Pat dry instead of rub with a towel
Use a lubricating lotion 2-3 times daily especially after bathing.
Avoid using harsh detergents washing clothes and be sure to rinse thoroughly.
Deep cracks can heal in about 2 weeks if constantly covered with ointment like petroleum jelly. This softens the dry skin.
Like I said, you might want to take her to a dermatologist to get to the bottom of this.