If you find yourself constantly applying foot cream on dry, cracked heels, you aren’t alone. As many as 20% of adults have dry, cracked skin on their feet, according to a survey conducted by the Institute for Preventive Foot Health. Even though cracked heels are common, they can be a nuisance.
Drs. Matthew Paden, Dustin Kruse, and Brett Sachs and our team at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle want you to have healthy feet — and that includes the skin on your feet, too! We also know that treating cracked heels is especially important for those with diabetes.
Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about cracked heels, including what causes them and how to soften them.
Determining why your heels are cracked
Many cases of dry skin are caused by dehydration or dry air in your home. Cracked heels, however, can have many other causes, including:
- Fungal infections
- Taking hot showers and using harsh soaps
- Walking barefoot
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit right
Additionally, underlying medical conditions such as diabetes can also contribute to dry heels. Vitamin deficiency, fungal infections, psoriasis, and thyroid disorders can also affect the skin on your feet.
How to deal with cracked heels at home
The skin on your heel tends to be thicker and drier than the skin on the rest of your foot. When you walk or stand, it can put pressure on your heel, causing the skin to crack. The first line of defense against a dry heel is to moisturize the area.
By moisturizing, softening, and exfoliating dead skin, your heels not only look better, but they also become healthier. Here are a few tips for moisturizing your heels:
- Use thick balms specifically designed for heels
- Apply thick moisturizer two to three times each day (but avoid putting lotion between your toes)
- Wear shoes that support your heels properly
- Try a moisturizing heel sleeve
Never exfoliate dry feet as that can damage your skin. If you have diabetes, don’t remove any calluses or rough spots on your own. Doing so may inadvertently cause a wound.
What to do if your heels bleed
Dry, cracked skin can be itchy, but very deep cracks can also bleed. Between scratching itchy heels and dealing with bleeding cracks, it’s possible that you notice inflammation or signs of an infection. Because of this, it’s important to keep your heels as clean as possible to prevent infections and foot ulcers.
If you notice signs of an infection, call one of our offices right away. In the meantime, keep the area clean and bandaged to prevent further irritation.
Preventing cracked heels
Choosing the right footwear can go a long way in preventing future cracked heels. Open-toed shoes, flip-flops, and stilettos all contribute to cracked or dry heels. You can also prevent cracked heels by:
- Applying a thick foot cream each night (and covering your feet with socks)
- Inspecting your feet daily
- Wearing orthotics (if needed) to provide the needed support for your heel
- Stay hydrated
- Avoiding standing for prolonged hours
If you aren’t sure if your shoes are right for your feet, don’t hesitate to ask us!
When you need medical intervention for cracked heels
If your cracked heels are caused by a medical condition (such as a fungal infection) or if you have diabetes, don’t treat cracked heels on your own. Severe cases of cracked heels (including cracks that bleed, are itchy, or are inflamed) should also be evaluated by one of our podiatrists.
When you come to Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle, rest assured that our foot health experts understand the heel cracks are more than just dry skin. Whether you’re dealing with a fungal infection or severely inflamed cracks, we can pinpoint the cause of your heel problems and suggest the appropriate treatments. From wound care to prescription creams, we have the experience and tools to get you back on your feet.
If you’d like say goodbye to dry, cracked heels, please call one of four offices in Wheat Ridge, Arvada, Evergreen, or Granby, Colorado, to book an appointment.