If you suffer from cracked heels, you’ll know that the problems aren’t limited to the aesthetic. Dry skin can be the starting point of a painful and uncomfortable condition for your feet and nails, one that can worsen your overall living quality. Take some measures to stop it on time!
Dry and cold weather, combined with air heating systems, has several consequences on your skin. Many people take special care of their bodies in winter by using specific shower gels, body lotions, hydration face creams, etc. But feet are often forgotten, and they need special treatments too in order to avoid cracked skin in their heels and troubles in their nails.
When skin is dry, it becomes less elastic, and that's why it often gets overexerted. As feet are holding up your body during the day, with all the weight and pressure on your heels, they suffer silently until they start to show some symptoms, like cracked skin. There are some medical conditions that make some people more likely to get this condition, including obesity, diabetes, eczema, hormonal changes, psoriasis, hypothyroidism, and juvenile plantar dermatosis.
Other causes of cracked heels are infections such as athlete's foot -a fungal infection of the feet that occurs between the toes and on the soles-, and biomechanical factors such as flat feet and heel spur. If you stand up for long periods of time during the day and you’re not wearing fitting shoes, you may suffer cracked heels too.
If cracking becomes deep past the superficial epidermal layer and into the deeper dermal layers, it can be very dangerous and painful. That’s why you should stop cracking before fissures get deeper and increase the risk of bleeding and infections.
You can start by using a foot file. There are some battery-operated little machines that you can get in any pharmacy. Use it weekly in only one direction to remove the dead skin dermal layer. You can use a pumice stone or a manual foot file as well. Always make gentle movements and clean the products carefully after using them. Change them every two or three months, and don’t share them with anyone else.
Limit your time in a bath or shower to 5-10 minutes to avoid moisture loss. Use warm water instead of hot water, and preferably emollient products instead of harsh soaps. Then, gently blot your skin with a towel to dry. Before getting to bed, apply an oil-based cream in order to get your feed correctly moisturized. You can wear thin cotton socks to help the moisturizer work. Be aware to use 100% cotton socks, as they allow heel skin to breathe.
You can also use an occlusive balsam to coat the skin in a thin film that prevents moisture from evaporating from the outermost layer of the skin, for example, petroleum jelly. During the day, you can use liquid, gel, or spray bandages to cover the cracked skin. These may provide a protective layer over the cracks, help reduce pain, stop dirt and germs from entering the wounds, and aid faster healing.
If your condition is severe and self-treatment doesn’t seem enough, you should see a podiatrist or dermatologist. In addition to local treatment, they may prescribe you an antibiotic if there’s an infection, or even recommend heel pads and shoe inserts to protect your feet.
Take into consideration that there is no permanent ‘cure’ for cracked heels. As it’s a skin condition, you need to treat your feet regularly. You should maintain your feet exfoliate and moisturize them daily, especially during dry weather, to prevent cracks from coming back.