With Summer around the corner, cracked heels are a common foot problem that involves very dry skin on the heels of the feet that can, at times, look very much like calluses. If not properly cared for the skin might eventually become dry enough to crack, creating fissures. While cracked heels are uncomfortable and unattractive fissures can be downright unhealthy as they can lead to development of infection, particularly since the feet are in almost constant contact with the ground. This condition can become quite painful, especially when standing or moving around, and if the fissures are deep enough they may even begin to bleed.
While some people have diabetes or very dry skin—both of which make skin prone to flaking and cracking—other cases of cracked heels are caused by external factors. There are several factors that increase the odds of developing this condition: walking barefoot or in flip-flops for extended periods of time, cold and dry winter weather, dehydration/insufficient water intake, routinely taking very hot showers or baths, using harsh soaps, and excessive pressure on the heels of the feet, which causes increased friction between the heel and ground surfaces. It’s important to note that being excessively overweight or obese will increase your chances of developing cracked heels or making the condition worse.
Fortunately, this condition can usually be treated at home with a little bit of time, patience, and care. Giving your feet a little extra TLC is best done right before bed so that they have time to absorb the moisturizing elements as much as possible.
Start by soaking your feet in warm water for 10-15 minutes or until the skin has softened, then gently slough the dead, dry skin from your heels with a pumice stone. Take special care around any cracks or fissure. Take your time with this step; you want to remove as much dry skin as possible without causing yourself pain or damaging tissues. Once you have finished both feet gently dry off with a towel and apply a thick moisturizer, and remember, you can use this moisturizer in the morning as well even though you won’t be performing the whole routine. It’s best to buy a very thick, unscented cream with glycerin and/or aloe as a main ingredient. Put on a comfortable pair of socks and go to bed. Be sure to repeat this routing nightly until your condition heals.
If your cracked heels DON’T improve with this treatment however, and you know you are not diabetic or dehydrated, then you will need to make an appointment with The Podiatrist to have the condition treated. Because cracked heels can lead to fissures and infection they need to be addressed as soon as possible. The Podiatrist will like treat the condition the same way you did, but with more potent tools. The Podiatrist will also probably give you very practical types for self-care such as performing regular maintenance on your feet, upgrading your footwear, using heel cups to protect the skin from friction and/or purchasing insoles to cushion your feet as you walk.
While cracked heels should not be considered a medical emergency they should be treated before more serious complications arise.
We have a great range of foot care products which can help keep your feet looking great for the summer.