Cracked heels are a common foot problem among many. It can occur in both adults and children and seems to affect women more often than men. Having cracked heels may not be serious for some, only causing minor discomfort when barefoot. But in some cases, cracks in the heels can become very extreme and cause pain. One of the first signs of cracked heels is having areas of dry, thickened skin, which are known as callouses, around the rim of your heel. The fat pad under your heel expands as you walk, causing the callouses to crack.
Some other factors that can cause cracked heels to include:
- Standing for a long duration
- Walking around barefoot, or with open-back sandals
- Taking long, hot showers
- Using harsh soaps, which strip your skin of natural oils
- Shoes that are too tight or hurt your heels
- Climates, such as cold temperatures or low humidity, which causes dry skin
There are also some medical causes of dry and cracked heels. This can be due to high blood sugar and poor circulation that result from diabetes. If you suffer from nerve damage, you may not feel that your feet are dry, cracked, and painful.
Some other conditions that may lead to dry skin and cracked heels include:
- Vitamin deficiency
- Fungal infection
- Atopic dermatitis
- Juvenile plantar dermatosis
- Palmoplantar keratoderma that causes abnormal skin thickening on the soles and palms
- Old age
Symptoms that accompany cracked heels
In addition to having cracked heels, you may experience flaky skin, itching, severe pain, bleeding, inflamed skin, and even ulceration. In extreme cases, you may develop complications due to the cracked heel, especially if it’s caused by a medical condition. These may include loss of feeling in your heel, cellulitis, and diabetic foot ulcer. The symptoms may lead to an infection causing pain, warmth, redness, and swelling. If you think you have an infection, pay a visit to your doctor right away.
The following are some of the best ways to treat dry skin and remove dead skin from the feet miraculously overnight.
- Exfoliate your feet
The process of exfoliation involves removing dead surface-layer skin. To do this, you can use either a physical or chemical exfoliator.
Physical exfoliators include:
- Shower foot scrubber
- Homemade foot scrub
- Foot peels
- Body brush
- Electronic callus removers
You can buy shower foot scrubber from shops or use foot scrubs made at home by mixing honey, warm water, and sugar. Chemical exfoliators can be lotions or thin liquids containing ingredients that dissolve dead cells on the surface of the skin. Examples of these is glycolic acid, lactic acid, and alpha-hydroxy acid. Foot peels are also popular chemical exfoliators, which were designed by manufacturers specifically for the feet. However, some foot peels contain artificial fragrances and alcohols that can irritate sensitive skin, so it is important to check the list of ingredients for any potential allergens or irritants before buying as foot peel for yourself. If you have sensitive skin, you should opt for a gentler foot peel.
- Use a pumice stone or foot file
One of the best shower foot scrubbers is a pumice stone or metal foot file to remove dry skin and calluses from the feet.
You can use it while showering or you can follow these simple steps to achieve baby-soft feet:
- Soak the feet in warm water to soften the dead skin.
- Wet the pumice stone or foot file with warm water.
- Gently rub the pumice stone or foot file over the dead skin or callus. Use circular motions with a pumice stone and gentle back-and-forth motions with a foot file.
- Rinse the dead skin off the feet. Repeat step three as necessary.
- Pat the feet dry with a clean towel.
- Moisturize the feet with cream, lotion, or oil.
- Use Foot soak
Soaking your feet in warm water after a tiring day can help soothe and loosen dry skin while improving blood circulation, which in return, can help prevent dry skin in the future. For a foot soak, you can add different ingredients, such as oatmeal or Epsom salt. You can even add a small amount of vinegar to a foot soak as vinegar has powerful antimicrobial properties that may help disinfect the feet and even eliminate foot odor.
Some other beneficial ingredients you may want to consider adding to a foot soak include:
- Lemon juice
- Baking powder
- Peppermint essential oil
- Moisturize your feet
Moisturizing your feet regularly will help reduce existing dry skin and prevent new dry skin from forming. It is most recommended to moisturize your feet after using an exfoliator or a shower foot scrubber. Doing this will help the skin lock in moisture.
Try to avoid lotions, creams, and moisturizers that contain alcohol, added fragrances, and artificial colors as these ingredients can worsen dry skin.
- Wear socks to bed
To lock in the moisture, it is recommended to wear cotton socks before going to bed. Simply apply a generous amount of moisturizer to the feet before slipping on a pair of breathable, cotton socks. In the morning, remove the socks and rinse your feet. You will love the instant result.
If you want extra hydration, you can also try using moisturizing gel-lined socks. Moisturizing socks contain natural oils and vitamins that help hydrate and repair dry skin on the feet. These are available at stores or you can create your own. Just slip on a pair and wear them around the house for a few hours. Afterward, place the socks in the washing machine and let them air-dry.