When was the last time you gave a little TLC to an often-neglected area of your body: your heels. The skin on your heels is thick and prone to dryness – and dryness can cause cracked heels, flaking skin, callouses, itchiness, and discomfort to develop. Dry, cracked heels are a common skin issue, and in most cases harmless. But if you don’t like the look and feel of cracked heels, keep reading to learn more about what causes them and how you can keep the skin around your feet soft and healthy.
What Causes Dry, Cracked Heels?
The most common cause of cracked or flaky heels is dry skin. Cracked heels are especially common during winter, when cold temperatures and low humidity strip natural oils and water from your skin and cause dryness. When you apply pressure and weight to the fat pads under your heels, the skin expands sideways. Dry skin is stiffer, less elastic, and therefore more likely to crack. Other factors that cause the skin on your heels to become dry and cracked include:
- Standing for long periods
- Wearing open-back shoes or sandals without heel support
- Walking barefoot
- Wearing shoes that rub or don’t fit correctly
- Taking long, hot showers or baths
- Using harsh soaps and skin care products
How to Care for Dry Heels
There are several at-home remedies you can use to reclaim soft, smooth, and healthy skin on your heels.
- Moisturize often. If you already have dry skin or cracks on your heels, then aim to moisturize at least 2-3 times a day to promote healing. The best time to moisturize is after a shower or bath, when your skin is still damp. Invest in a soothing heel balm, which is designed specifically for foot care. Look for heel balms with humectants – humectant ingredients help draw hydration to your skin while also exfoliating dead skin cells and promoting the growth of new cells. Common humectants include: urea, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic acid and glycolic acid.
- Protect dry skin at night. Before bed, apply a thick layer of occlusive moisturizer to your heels. Occlusive agents create a protective barrier over your skin that keeps moisture sealed inside. Moisturizers with occlusive agents are thick, greasy jellies and ointments. Wear clean cotton socks overnight to keep the product on your feet and off the bedsheets. Occlusive agents include: petroleum, shea butter, lanolin, mineral oil, and dimethicone.
- Exfoliate using a gentle abrasive. Exfoliate cracked heels using a heel file or pumice stone to remove thickened, dead skin. Don’t scrub too roughly or use abrasives too frequently – improper application can leave your skin raw and inflamed, or even make wounds worse.
- Practice good foot hygiene. Always keep your feet clean and dry. Wear properly fitting shoes that have adequate support and don’t rub against your heels. Wear clean socks every day and stick to 100% cotton – cotton is a breathable material that helps wick away excess sweat to keep your feet fresh and dry.
- Use gentle skin care products and take lukewarm showers and baths. Products with harsh chemicals can irritate and dry out your skin. Use hypoallergenic, fragrance-free soaps and body washes to clean your heels and feet. Hot water also dries out your skin, especially if your skin is continuously exposed to it during long showers. Limit bath time to 10-15 minutes and use lukewarm to cool water.
At Ageless Allure Medispa, we offer foot scrubs and other spa treatments that can help soothe, soften, and hydrate dry, cracked heels. Contact us today to learn more and schedule your next spa session with us.