Did Summer leave your heels cracked and dry? You’re not alone and we’re here to help.
Cracked heels are most commonly seen during hotter weather. This is when people tend to wear more sandals, slides and thongs. If left untreated they result in skin splitting, which can cause discomfort and is a potential pathway for infection.
What Causes Cracked Heels?
Wearing open backed footwear, such as thongs or sandals. Additionally, prolonged periods of barefoot walking can expose your feet to the hot, dry conditions of the Summer period, leading to drying of the skin. Furthermore, with less shock absorption on your heel the fat pad in the heel tends to expand more, leading to further pressure on the skin.
Increased pressure on your heels
Higher loads placed on your heels can lead to a build up of thickened skin called callus. Some common factors that place more pressure on your heels include prolonged periods of time on your feet, walking on hard surfaces, weight gain and lower limb biomechanical issues.
Skin and medical conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, tinea, diabetes and hypothyroidism.
Exposure to certain chemicals such as soaps, chlorine and detergents can remove the natural oils and moisture on your skin, leaving your heels exposed and prone to becoming dry.
Moisturizing your feet daily will help maintain moisture levels in your heels. A urea based cream is recommended to assist in breaking down keratin in the outer layer of your skin. Make moisturizing part of your routine!
Avoid prolonged periods of barefoot/wearing open back footwear. Wearing stockings or socks as well will help keep your heels protected from drying out. It may also be beneficial to source out a sandal with a closed back if you wish to continue to wear these types of footwear.
Have your podiatrist safely debride calluses and hard skin. The podiatrists at TFC Podiatry are qualified to safely remove callus in a sterile environment . This step is particularly important if you are a diabetic or have reduced blood circulation or peripheral neuropathy. If you are prone to constant cracked heels and callus buildup then you may require regular podiatric treatment.
Antiseptic liquid such as betadine may be required if your cracks are deep in order to reduce the risk of infection.
Ensure adequate water intake and essential fatty acids in your diet such as omega 3 in order to keep your skin well hydrated.