Cracked Heels Treatment

Cracked Heels Treatment

Even at the best of times, heels take a lot of abuse. When we stand on our feet daily, they bear more of our weight than any other part of the body. With movement, including walking and running, our heels are exposed to different elements. This includes rough, hard, and uneven surfaces, on the ground we walk on and in our footwear. This post introduces you to some helpful tips on cracked heels treatment.

Hyperkeratosis – Scaling of Heels

The best Omaha dermatologists know that heels respond to many of these insults by thickening—a phenomenon we call hyperkeratosis. In the real world, hyperkeratosis means scaling and thickening of the skin. In its mildest form, this can cause roughness in the heels.

That roughness causes annoying feelings where the thick skin of the heels tends to rub against our socks or the bed linens at nighttime. As this hyperkeratosis worsens, skin becomes thicker and more uncomfortable. This may cause pain with walking.

It also can lead to the splitting of the skin resulting in fissures. Fissures are often extremely painful due to the exposed nerve endings. If those fissures are severe enough, they can even cause infection in the skin. Therefore, creating a portal for bacteria to enter the deeper tissues.

So, what do we do now? How do we get our cracked heels to heal?

This article shares our standard approach with you and secret recommendations to improve this common foot problem.

Cracked Heels Treatment

Offload The Pressure – Mind Your Footwear

Pamper your heels with your footwear. Naturally, you would think that heel problems occur mostly in the winter due to dry weather. However, surprisingly we often see them in the summer as well.

Many of us go barefoot or wear sandals and flip-flops in the summer, this means less cushioning for our heels. They will naturally respond by thickening. Think of it like the heel putting on a suit of armor for protection.

Choose footwear that is soft on the inside and has plenty of cushioning. Thicker plush socks can help as part of the equation. Tennis shoes tend to have better insoles with more cushioning. Consider buying special insoles for your shoes to help even more.

Minimize The Friction

Despite our best intentions, there are things that we do that may worsen the thickening of our heels due to increased friction. In some cases, with very thick heels, people use an emery board, pumice stone, nail file, or magic egg to scrape down the heel.

However, when exposed to this type of friction the heel naturally responds by trying to further thicken. This becomes a vicious cycle in some cases. For this reason, we generally advise against doing these things or having them done as part of your foot health and nail care.

Find the Right Softening Agent for Cracked Heels Treatment

We live in a world of vast moisturizer options. Most of them are useless when it comes to preventing cracked heels at home. For moisturizer, thicker is better—much better.

Light soupy lotions in some cases may dry cracked heels even more. Thicker moisturizer creams tend to work better and can soften the skin.  For heels that need more attention, apply moisturizers at least two times a day. Generally, the brands we recommend most at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands are:

  • Vanicream
  • CeraVe cream
  • Aquaphor
  • Eucerin cream

It may be common sense, but we always recommend caution when using these on the bottom of the feet. If we aren’t careful, they can lead to us slipping, sliding, and falling.

A big challenge is applying these to your feet and making them work before they get rubbed off by socks and shoes. We recommend that the best time to apply moisturizer for cracked heel treatment is in the evening.

Apply the moisturizer or heel balm when you are sitting and can relax. Let it soak in to dry skin before putting socks on and walking around. Always put your socks, shoes, or slippers on before getting up and walking so you are less likely to slip and slide.

Certain over-the-counter moisturizers with special active ingredients can also be used and may be helpful for cracked skin. Sometimes it helps to use moisturizers that contain urea, salicylic acid, or alpha hydroxy acid. These skin-softening agents may help to remove dead skin.

Amlactin is the most readily available brand of over-the-counter moisturizer with lactic acid. Urea is available in several different over-the-counter and prescription formulations.

Secret Cracked Heels Treatment Rescue Tip

If you remain frustrated with the progress in improvement, we have a secret for you. Our secret approach is a home remedy.

  1. Soak feet in a basin of water in the evening
  2. Apply a thick layer of plain petroleum jelly Vaseline
  3. White cotton socks

The same pair of cotton socks should be worn night after night. Do this for at least a few weeks. This approach can super soften thickened skin.

Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands | Best Dermatologist Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA | Board Certified Dermatologists

Please remember that even with the best of care, problems in heels can take a long time to improve.  Also know that certain underlying skin diseases can make this problem worse if they are not appropriately treated.  If you are struggling, we are here to help.  Please contact us to schedule a consultation. in any of our clinics in Omaha, Council Bluffs or the surrounding communities.