Adelaide summers are long, hot and dry and cracked heels are a common problem. If left untreated, the cracks can deepen and become infected so it’s important to prevent them from occurring and if they do, to treat them immediately.
Here are some home tips to prevent or minimise cracked heels by taking daily care of your feet during summer. Especially if are wearing open-toed and open-heeled shoes.
Why do cracked heels happen?
The heel pad of your foot expands naturally outward when walking or running and closed shoes keep the heel pad maintained and protected. With open shoes however and especially in summer (or winter for some people), the skin loses moisture, dries out and hardens.
The heel pad pushes into this hardened skin and creates fissures and cracks. The skin barrier is broken, and your heel is prone to becoming inflamed and infected. The longer cracked heels are left without treatment, the worse the problem becomes.
The skin on your heels dries out and hardens for the following reasons:
- Lack of moisture due to heat and dehydration
- Long and hot baths or showers which dry out the skin in both hands and feet
- Standing too long and adding pressure on the feet
- Forgetting to moisturise your feet
- Poorly fitting shoes may change your walking style and foot alignment causing cracks to form
What can you do to prevent and treat cracked heels?
You should not ignore cracked heels and treat them quickly before they lead to bleeding and infection. Remember that if the skin in your heels is broken, and you are walking around in bare feet, all sorts of parasites have easy access directly into your bloodstream!
The best approach is to practice good heel maintenance throughout summer:
Gently scrub your heels in the shower
Use a gentle pumice stone, a loofah or foot scrubber which you can get from the chemist to gently scrub your heels every time you shower. This will remove some of the dry skin and leave softer skin underneath, ready to be moisturised.
Moisturise your heels twice a day
Moisturise in the morning before you head off for the day to increase the elasticity of your heels. Moisturise at night after a shower when you’ve scrubbed your heels with a pumice or foot file. Your feet will be most receptive, absorbing the moisture cream readily.
We recommend Urederm cream which is a urea cream that we sell in the clinic. Whatever you choose, make sure the cream or ointment is purpose made for cracked skin with ingredients such as glycerin, lanolin, hyaluronic acid, urea, lactic acid, or mineral oil.
Keep hydrated during summer
With over two million sweat glands working hard to keep you cool during hot weather, the only way to help them do their job is to stay hydrated. Signs of being dehydrated include headaches, light-headedness, darker yellow urine and fatigue.
If you’re dehydrated, moisture is drawn away from the skin to keep vital organs healthy and this exacerbates dry skin on heels. Drink enough water over the summer to stay hydrated – not only for your feet but your head too!
Lather on thick cream at night and then bed socks
Either a thick cream or petroleum jelly can be applied to your heels just before you go to sleep. Put some nice soft pure cotton socks on, and then go to sleep. The socks will keep the moisture in and stop the sheets from getting stained.
If you repeat this for a few nights in a row you will see improvement.
Keep your heels enclosed
We offer practical advice to our clients and we know summer time is about open heeled shoes and sandals. However if you have cracked heels that need serious attention, then we suggest you wear close-heeled shoes with cotton socks until the problem resolves itself.
As the heel pad wants to expand, a close-heeled shoe will protect it from pushing through dry skin and creating further cracks in the heels. Until the cracks disappear, wear close-heeled shoes, maintain your heels with exfoliation and moisturising creams.
Give yourself a home foot bath – soak your feet twice a week
Twice a week, give your feet some well-deserved love and attention, after all they work hard for you every day!
- Soak your feet in warm soapy water for about 15 minutes
- Exfoliate with a pumice stone, dry loofah or heel scrubber/file
- Pat dry and apply a rich moisturiser and massage it well into your heels
- Put on cotton socks, sit back and relax for half an hour!
Visit Sanders Podiatry if your cracked heels are not improving
If your heel cracks are getting worse, then the team at Sanders Podiatry will help you. We will assess your feet for proper footwear as a change in walking style might be aggravating your heels, or will offer advice and treatment depending on the extent of the problem.
We have podiatry clinics in Adelaide (opposite Burnside Shopping Centre), Stirling and Mount Barker. Call us to make an appointment on:
Sanders Podiatry Adelaide: 08 8379 1456
Sanders Podiatry Stirling: 08 8339 3344
Sanders Podiatry Mount Barker: 08 8370 1590
We look forward to supporting you to keep your feet fit for life.