If you have been neglecting taking care of your feet all winter, you are probably dealing with dry cracked heels that need immediate attention now that sandal-season is approaching. Good skin care of the feet is just as important as other areas of the body. Though, treating the skin around the heels can be challenging.
Dry cracked heels can be caused by many different things such as:
- excessive body weight on the feet: causes pressure and tension leading to thicker skin and cracking.
- over exposure to water (particularly running water): washes away natural oils in the skin.
- open-back shoes: allows air to dry out exposed heel.
- diabetes: affects the sweat glands leading to dry skin.
The secret to healing dry cracked heels: EXFOLIATION
In order to get the heel soft and smooth, dead skin must first be removed. Exfoliation can be done mechanically using a pumice stone or foot file. You can also help exfoliate dead skin chemically by using foot creams that contain urea or lactate. Applying foot products that only moisturize the feet will not work as well in healing dry cracked heels. Done properly, you can get beautiful sandal-ready feet as quickly as two days.
STEPS TO HEAL DRY CRACKED HEELS
- Soak feet in warm (not hot) water for 10 minutes.
- Exfoliate the skin using a pumice stone or non-metal foot file. Remove as much dry thickened skin as possible. Try to file in one direction to avoid tearing the skin.
- Apply over-the-counter foot cream that contains urea and/or lactate (podiatry offices have products available, too).
- Wear socks throughout the day.
- After a shower/bath, apply a petroleum based ointment (or petroleum jelly) while the skin is still damp to help seal in moisture.
- Apply another layer of urea/lactate foot cream, if needed.
- Cover the feet with socks, or even plastic wrap, and wear overnight.
REPEAT DAY AND NIGHT TIME ROUTINES UNTIL FEET ARE SMOOTH.
If you are like me and find sleeping with socks uncomfortable, cut the ends of a pair of old socks to only cover your heels. Your toes will stay cool and comfortable while the heels get their treatment.
SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW:
- Avoid putting lotion/cream between the toes. This can make that area too moist and lead to an infection.
- Diabetics should not routinely soak their feet which can increase the risk of infection.
- Anyone with loss of feeling in the feet should always have a podiatrist exfoliate dry callused skin.
- Redness, swelling, and pain in and around cracked skin are signs of infection – see a podiatrist.
- Dry scaly feet may be caused by an Athlete’s foot infection – see a podiatrist.
For many, healing dry cracked heels at home can be simple and effective by following the right steps. Others with more severe cases and/or have high risk feet for infections should visit a podiatrist for evaluation and care. Cracks in the skin or self injury to the feet can lead to serious complications.
Now you’ve got the secret to smoothing your feet quickly. Just remember to do it safely and consult a podiatrist when needed. If you are in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area, podiatrist Dr. Rosemarie Caillier can help treat your dry cracked heels. To schedule an appointment, call the office at (205) 409-0175.