Cracked, Dry Heels? Here’s How to Deal

June 18, 2020
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | by L'Oréal
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My feet are pretty gross to begin with (foot phobia, anyone?!), but they take a dry, cracked turn for the worse every summer. I moisturize my feet every night, make sure to dry off the water as soon as I step out of the shower, and yet, my heels remain white, calloused and cracked. Not only does it look icky, but the dry, dehydrated skin makes walking painful, too. Although it’s tempting to pick off the calloused hardened skin around my heel, I know that’s likely not what the doctor would order. That’s why I consulted with board-certified podiatrist Dr. Sophia Solomon, D.P.M, of Manhattan Specialty Care. Read her tips for addressing cracked heels, ahead.

What Causes Cracked Heels?

Cracked heels are a result of a buildup of dry, thickened skin. “In contrast to dry skin on other areas of your body, your heels tend to crack due to the level of friction and pressure they are subjected to on a daily basis,” says Dr. Solomon. The stress from walking, the traction in your shoes or even standing for extended periods of time can cause a buildup of this kind. What’s more, genetics, age, diet, the environment and having high-arched or flat feet can play a big role in whether you develop cracked heels. “People with high arches tend to get calluses on the outside of their heel, and those with flat feet get the build-up of skin on the inside,” she says. This is due to the excess of pressure put on these areas of the foot.

How to Address Cracked Heels

Tip #1: Choose Your Shoes Carefully, Especially in Summer

In summer, we tend to swap out our booties and sneakers for sandals, flip flops and flats. While summer-y shoes may be stylish, they’re also a lot less supportive. “The lack of support allows your heels to slip around and causes added friction and buildup of skin,” says Dr. Solomon. “Wear shoes that are snug around the heel, instead.” She recommends trying a gel heel pad to cushion and stabilize the heel and wearing insoles to support the foot, especially if you have an unusually high or low arch.

Tip #2: Don’t Peel the Skin

It can be tempting to pick at the cracked and peeling skin. Trust me, I understand. But it’s important to refrain. “If you start peeling your heel, you can cause a break in the skin or leave it raw,” says Dr. Solomon. Inevitably, this habit will only make things worse. If you start to notice skin peeling up, try buffing it out with a pumice stone, which is designed to remove calluses and dry skin on the feet, in the shower.

Tip #3: Hydrate and Exfoliate the Heel

If your heels have been looking cracked and feeling dry, intense hydration is key. “Apply a generous amount of cream to your heels and then wrap your foot with plastic wrap and leave it on overnight,” says Dr. Solomon. “Pumice your feet the next morning during your shower and repeat this process as necessary.” One of our favorite heavy-duty moisturizers is the CeraVe Healing Ointment from our parent company L’Oréal.

Visual Designer: Hannah Packer

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