In addition to how painful cracked heels can be, they can also be quite unsightly, particularly if you’re trying to wear a pair of sandals or flip flops that show off your feet.
Cracked heels are more common in the hotter months, but they can appear at any time of year. The pain usually begins when the skin on and around the heel becomes dry and splits, sometimes bleeding and allowing infection to set in.
Vitamin deficiencies, the pressure of standing for long periods, ageing skin obesity, standing in damp areas, and genetics are all contributors to cracked heels, as can some medical conditions such as diabetes and an underactive thyroid.
While many people suffer in silence, there are a number of things you can do to help make your feet look smoother and to relieve pain.
Just as many people exfoliate their face and skin, it’s important not to forget your feet.
Because people are constantly using their feet for daily activities, it’s easy for the skin around the heels to become thick and dry throughout the day. Soaking your feet regularly is a great way to remove the dead skin.
Simply place your feet in hot, soapy water for around half an hour a day. If it’s not too painful, be sure to scrub away at any hard parts of skin with a brush, loofah or pumice stone.
(Be careful of doing this if you have diabetes, because the condition can make it more difficult for you to sense pain in your feet, which could mean you scrub off too much skin. Meanwhile, poorer blood flow can mean it takes longer for injuries on your foot to heal.)
While the temptation to pull away at loose skin can be too hard to resist, try not to do this when your feet aren’t wet. You could be damaging the skin further. Always be sure to moisturise when you’ve finished giving your feet a soak and a scrub
It sounds simple, but it’s really important to keep your feet moisturised. If you get into a habit of moisturising every day, you should find that the skin slowly starts to soften up and become smoother over time, so it’s good idea to moisturise daily and not just when cracks and splits begin to form.
In addition to foot rubs and scrubs that are readily available from chemists and supermarkets, keep an eye out for specific heel balms.
It may feel a little uncomfortable, but the best thing to do when your heels are freshly exfoliated and moisturised is to cover them up.
Leaving your feet bare means that dirt and other bacteria can easily enter the cracks, leading to infection and making it harder for the heels to heal themselves. When you cover up the impacted area, you’re actually making sure that the area stays moist and that the ingredients in the moisturiser reach your heel.
It can be really easy to reach for your favourite pair of high-heels or your favourite thongs that you’ve had for decades, but the footwear you choose can impact your feet and heel health.
Enclosed shoes are going to help you in the long run, but if you need to wear flip flops or something that exposes your heels, try to pick something with a thick, comfortable sole.
This is going to prevent heavy impact on your heel when you’re walking and keep your feet off the ground so the chances of dirt and other harmful material entering your cracked heels are lessened.
Staying hydrated is important for skin, but many people forget that their feet and heels are also covered in skin that needs some tender care.
Where possible, try and keep your fluid intakes high, particularly when you do feel your heels starting to crack. It’s not going to heal it completely, but ensuring you get plenty of fluids will assist with the healing process.