Many believe that dry, cracked heels only happen in places that have cold winters – and they are wrong. Dry, cracked heels can happen to anyone and anywhere under the right (or should we say wrong) circumstances.
The cracks are actual fissures in the skin, which can let in infection. It’s something no one should try to bear. Fortunately, with the right treatments and a little vigilance, you should be able to reduce the incidence of cracks and maybe even banish them forever.
How it Happens
If you’re one of the people who get the cracked heels there is typically a combination of factors:
- Exposure to dry air.
- Hot water, as in hot baths and showers.
- Calluses or other skin conditions which decrease elasticity.
Some conditions already promote foot dryness: like diabetes, thyroid deficiencies and athlete’s foot. If you have a diagnosis involving a systemic issue or autoimmune disorder, find out if foot dryness or other changes to skin are part of it, even if it seems unlikely to you. That way you have a chance to get medical advice that’s proactive.
Here’s the Plan
If dry air, hot water and inflexible skin are culprits, then it follows that to get relief you must humidify the air, turn down the shower temperature a notch or two and get rid of the calluses.
But sometimes humidifying isn’t practical, or giving up steamy showers is too much to ask, or these measures don’t give you results you’re desired results. In those cases, what you need is extra care.
Start with a cream that has active ingredients beyond what you can find in an ordinary moisturizer, for example:
- Acids to exfoliate (alpha-hydroxy acids, lactic acid or salicylic acid).
- Acid-free, enzyme-based exfoliates that are safe for diabetics (protease, amino peptidase).
- Panthenol (pro-vitamin B5), which aids skin regeneration, softness and elasticity.
- Urea, a gentle skin softener that can break down calluses over time.
- Amino acid L-arginine, which helps fight dryness by stimulating circulation.
The reason acid-based exfoliates are generally not recommended for diabetics is that they have the potential to irritate healthy skin. Of course, there’s a difference between a cream that contains 3% salicylic acid and one with 20%, but to keep it simple just look for the “Diabetic Friendly” label in the catalog of products.
Your cream can work more effectively (not to mention create less of a mess and slip hazard) if you cover your feet after putting on your cream. You could wear regular socks, specially-made heel socks or just pull on a set of moisturizing socks.
Read more and shop for solutions to dry and cracked heels at FootSmart®.