How to Treat Dry, Cracked Heels

Warmer weather is coming, and that often means open-heeled shoes that require smart care to keep your heelslooking good. Unfortunately, it’s easy for feet to become dry and cracked. But it’s not something you have to live with. Dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology say ( say there are steps you can take now to get yout heels in top condition.

“Cold, dry weather; walking barefoot; and long, hot showers are just some of the reasons why you may have dry, cracked heels,” says board-certified dermatologist Patrick Blake, MD, FAAD. “Understanding what causes dry, cracked heels and taking steps to prevent them can relieve the itch and pain that they can cause and leave you with softer, healthier skin.”

To care for dry, cracked heels at home, Blake recommends the following:

Limit baths and showers to 5-10 minutes. Bathing for too long can dry out the skin, making your heels worse. Be gentle when blotting your skin dry with a towel.

Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser. This will help your feet retain their natural oils. Moisturize your feet within 5 minutes of bathing. Look for a moisturizing cream that contains 10-25% urea, alpha hydroxy acid, or salicylic acid. Apply it to your heels immediately after bathing while your skin is still damp, and whenever your heels feel dry, to lock in moisture.

Before bed, apply plain petroleum jelly. Consider wearing socks at night to avoid getting grease on your bedding.

Protect your heels. During the day, apply a liquid bandage over the cracks in your heels to create a protective barrier, which can help reduce pain, speed up healing, and stop germs from entering your skin.

Wear the proper shoes. Avoid shoes that don’t offer enough support, such as flip flops and slingbacks., shoes that are worn down, or shoes that don’t fit properly.

“Sometimes, cracked heels are caused by a medical condition, such as diabetes,” says Blake. “If your dry, cracked heels are severe or do not improve after following these tips, talk to a board-certified dermatologist.”

To find a board-certified dermatologist in your area, click here.

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