My Heels are Dry and Cracked- Help!!!

Hannah Wittwer12th of March 2019www.completepodiatry.com.au / blog / foot-pain-problems / help-dry-cracked-heels

As summer comes to an end, I’ve been seeing lots of people with dry, cracked heels wondering why their skin has suddenly gotten so bad and what they can do to make it better. Keep reading to see my top tips on getting your feet smooth again!

Why do my heels crack more in summer?

During the warmer months, we see more and more people with dry and cracked heels, the main reason for this is our footwear choices.

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When it is hot, we tend to prefer wearing open shoes that don’t constrict our feet- even as a Podiatrist I know I’m guilty of slopping around in my thongs.

The problem with these type of shoes is they lack support, allowing the protective fatty padding on the bottom of your feet to expand and move, meaning load is not distributed evenly.

This leads to the development of hard, calloused areas as a protective mechanism to protect your internal foot structures.

This in combination with the increased exposure to the open air allows the skin to dry out and then to crack.  

During the warmer weather, we also are more prone to dehydration, which can further dry out the skin.

I also find people’s lifestyle is a little different during the summer, we tend to be out and about more and lead busier lives than during the cooler months, meaning we are more time poor and tending to our feet often goes by the wayside.

Why are dry and cracked heels a problem?

Dry and cracked heels are a problem for a number of reasons:

  1. Dry, cracked skin can lead to foot wounds and create a portal of entry for some nasty bugs- and no one wants that!
  2. Secondly, it’s uncomfortable. If you’ve ever had a split in your heel, you’ll know that they hurt to walk on and make going about your daily life activities a lot more difficult.
  3. And thirdly, they don’t look or feel nice.

What can I do at home to help my heels?

A little bit of TLC can go a long way in getting your feet back to feeling and looking great, and keeping them that way!

1. Applying a good quality emollient to your feet daily will really help to improve your skin’s condition. I recommend applying your emollient to your feet in the evening, popping some socks on to stop you slipping, and then hopping into bed.

This gives the emollient a nice block of time to work and get the moisture back into your skin.  Rub the cream all over your feet and heels, but avoid applying it between your toes.

And remember- persistence is key- make applying your emollient to your feet part of your evening routine!

2. Filing the callus lightly 1-2 times a week with an emery board or pumice stone can also help to manage the dry skin. However, if you have diabetes, peripheral neuropathy or circulation problems, speak to your podiatrist about doing this first.

3. Wearing enclosed, supportive footwear with clean, natural fibre socks as much as you can also help your skin. In the warmer months, trying to wear sandals with an enclosed heel and strap over your forefoot are a good alternative to thongs as they are cooler and less constricting, but still, provide protection and support.

4. Also, ensuring you’re well-hydrated and eating healthily will help with repairing and rebuilding the damaged tissue.

Which cream should I use on my feet?

I get asked this question a lot, with clients often saying they have tried several creams with nothing seeming to make a difference.

Your feet and hands have an extra layer of skin on them compared to the rest of your body to cope with the increased loads they go through. This means the emollient you use has to be extra strong to penetrate through these layers.

Thicker emollients that are made for feet are always better for your feet, here a Complete Podiatry we love the Akileine Blue. Avoid thin, watery, perfumed emollients as these will have little effect.

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Should I see a podiatrist for my dry, cracked heels?

Yes- you definitely should!

Through regular, general podiatry care we can manage any callus build-up with sharp debridement and sanding, as well as treating any splits you may have developed.

We will give you footwear advice and provide you with alternative options for the warm, summer months.

We can also look at load management and make you orthoses or paddings to more evenly distribute load and prevent hard skin development.

Here at Complete Podiatry, we have an additional treatment option for dry and cracked heels called our ‘Therabath’. The Therabath involves dipping your feet into a warmed paraffin wax bath, forming a waxy coating on your feet. This is left to sit for a few minutes, causing pores in the skin to open and increasing blood supply to the area, leaving your skin feeling more softened and radiant.

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If your feet are in need of some TLC following the long summer we’ve had, give us a call! We’d love to help you!

Yours in building healthy families, from the feet up,

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Hannah Wittwer

Podiatrist

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