4 Simple Ways To Fix Your Cracked Heels At Home
4 Ways To Fix Your Cracked Heels At Home
Our heels are a bit like tomatoes. Put too much pressure on them and bam, they expand sideways and split.
Heels are more likely to develop cracks if we spend a lot of time standing, wear backless shoes that don't support the heel, or let the skin get very dry and calloused. "If you have too much friction or sliding on skin that is thick, eventually the layers will split," says Jacqueline Sutera, a New York City podiatrist. "The problem gets worse as we get older because there's loss of the fat pad on the bottom of the foot, and the body replaces it with callouses."
This is not a problem that will go away if you ignore it. "Cracks get worse over time as they get deeper," Sutera says, "and it's dangerous because they can get easily infected—from bacteria, fungus, warts, or a virus." It's even more dangerous if you have diabetes or circulation problems.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid cracked heels is to prevent them, and that means weekly upkeep. "We have to tweeze our eyebrows and shave our legs, so pumicing and moisturizing is just one more thing to add to the routine," Sutera says.
If your cracks are very deep, bleeding, or seem infected—you'll see redness and swelling, it might feel warm, and it will probably hurt—see your primary care doc or a podiatrist. If not, here's how to start treating painful cracks at home.
1. Soften callouses the right way.
It's true that buildup is bad, but so is exfoliating incorrectly. Scrubbing too aggressively can split the skin even further. "You may have temporary smoothing action from the foot filing, but you won't help the cracking underneath," Sutera says. Instead, after a shower or a soak, when skin is clean and softened, use your foot filer of choice—a pumice stone or an electric tool like the Amope Pedi Perfect Foot File—and file heels very gently, in only one direction. "Don't file back and forth and don't go too deep," Sutera says. The goal is to slough off the just the top layers of dead skin without pulling the skin apart at the micro cracks. Exfoliate at least once a week or up to once a day.
2. Slick up strategically.
Moisturize immediately with a foot cream—make sure it's a cream and not a lotion, which is too thin. Choose a formula with lactic acid, salicylic acid, or uric acid, which are exfoliating ingredients that will help gently eat away at thickened areas and prevent callouses from coming back too quickly, Sutera says. She recommends and , both of which are gentle and inexpensive. Massage the cream onto your feet twice a day, whether you've exfoliated or not.
3. Put a sock on it.
Improve the healing power of your foot cream by locking it in for the night with a pair of socks lined with silicone, like Madholly Moisturizing Gel Socks. Or just wrap your heels in plastic wrap and don regular socks on top before hitting the sheets.
4. Choose the right shoes.
Wearing shoes with proper backs can also help keep heels from cracking. If you must wear sandals, Sutera advises choosing a pair with a thicker sole, some shock absorption, and arch support, like any of our picks for the best flip-flops with arch support (such as the , pictured above). "Choose a shoe that keeps your foot a bit off the ground—so dirt doesn't get into any cracks, and that doesn't allow a lot of slipping around or friction," she adds.
Video: 4 Ways To Fix Your Cracked Heels At Home
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