Often in winter, the skin on the heels becomes very hard and cracks. Sometimes it can even become very painful.
Dry skin on the heels that hardens and cracks is quite common, especially in winter. There are a variety of treatments you can apply at home to relieve dryness and heal cracked skin. Heels can crack when the skin around the edge of your heel becomes dry and thick, and increased pressure on the fat under the heel causes the skin to crack. A number of factors can increase the risk of developing cracks in the skin on cracked heels:
- wearing open-heeled shoes like sandals,
- have cold, dry skin
- Friction on the back of your shoes
- Other factors that aggravate the problem
– The weather often contributes to the problem. The skin tends to be drier in the winter when the humidity is low and the outside temperature is cold. The way homes are heated in the winter also has an effect. Fireplaces, wood stoves, central heating and heaters reduce indoor humidity, and this dries out the skin.
– Regularly exposing the skin of your feet to hot water during showers and baths also dries out the skin, especially if it is not hydrated 10 minutes after getting out of the bath or shower. Soaps can also damage the skin’s natural barrier and promote water loss, making the problem worse.
– Finally, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can make cracked heels worse. After menopause, some women may be more prone to the problem.
Tips to hydrate your heels and prevent cracking
Wearing supportive, well-fitting, closed shoes with socks can relieve symptoms. Losing excess weight can also relieve pressure on your heels and reduce cracking.
To combat dry skin, moisturize your feet often. Moisturizers provide protection to your skin that retains water and prevents dryness. Products that contain lanolin, glycerin or lactic acid usually help. Moisturize as often as you can, especially before going to bed. Then, put on a pair of socks to retain moisture overnight.
You can also reduce dry skin by using only mild soap (or “soap-free” soap) on your feet. Take hot baths and showers then soak your feet in plain or soapy water for about 20 minutes. Gently pat them dry and apply moisturizer right away.
In some cases, dry, cracked skin could be a sign of a bigger health problem, such as diabetes or loss of nerve function. If you suspect an underlying condition, talk to your doctor to see if you need further testing.