Summer is here, so that means one thing at the We Fix Feet clinics; “it’s cracked heels season”! That’s because, during the summer months, we opt to wear more open shoes or even dare to go barefoot. This leaves the skin on our feet more vulnerable to drying out. In this post, we look at the causes of cracked heels and how to prevent them.
What causes cracked heels?
As the skin becomes dry, callus builds up, becomes hard and thickened, meaning it’s no longer moist and supple, as it needs to be. With the pressure of standing, the thickened hard skin or callous cracks. This is what is known as cracked heels or heel fissures.
If the cracks or fissures on the heels are deep, they can be painful, hurt when standing or walking, and may sometimes bleed. This can allow for infection to get in!
During the initial stages, the heel starts to feel tight when placed under any kind of pressure. Along with the dryness, in some cases, itching and tenderness of the skin are usually the first signs. This area then can turn yellow or brownish in colour and tends to harden. Once it reaches this stage the skin starts to flake and crack appear. These then get deeper to the extent that the simple act of walking can be painful.
What’s the best prevention?
You now know what causes them but how do you prevent cracked heels? You can help prevent cracked heels over the summer period with these helpful tips:
Keep your feet clean and moisturised – Keeping your feet clean and dry is important to general foot health. It is recommended to use a moisturising foot care product such as Flexitol Moisturising Foot Cream as it contains 10% urea which helps put moisture back into the skin. For cracked heels, we recommend Flexitol Heel Balm, which is 25% urea. However, it is best to have the callus removed professionally before using the heel balm.
Exfoliate – A safe way to do this at home is to use a foot file that is NOT like a cheese grater, to remove the dead skin. Using an emery board foot file on your feet before a shower or bath can be a great way to avoid thick calluses or cracks. Don’t soak your feet first, as this will cause the skin to become waterlogged and will pull with the emery board, rather than removing dry hard skin.
Keep yourself hydrated – Due to the heat, your skin tends to get dry due to loss of moisture. It goes without saying that a hydrated body means hydrated skin. Drink plenty of water.
Standing – Avoid standing in one position or sitting with your legs crossed for too long as this puts additional pressure onto the heels.