Cracked heels might seem like a small problem, but they can be painful. Those tiny cracks can also make room for a bacterial infection. To stay active, mobile, and pain-free, you’ll need to take care of those tender heels.
Why Do Heels Crack?
Heels crack for a number of reasons. Some are seasonal, others behavioral, and some causes may have to do with an underlying medical condition. The most common causes include:
- Seasonal changes: Cold, dry winter air and the bare heels of summertime can both lead to sore, cracked heels.
- Dry skin: Dry skin loses its flexibility, increasing the chances of cracked skin all over the body, including the heels.
- Walking barefoot: Walking barefoot can put the skin on your heels under increased stress as well as drying the skin.
- Wearing open-backed shoes: Exposing the heels to the elements dries the skin and puts the skin under extra stress, just like walking barefoot.
- Using soaps that strip the skin of natural oil: Harsh soaps clean your skin but wash away valuable oils that the skin naturally produces. Without those protective oils, the skin can dry and crack.
- Poorly fit shoes: Shoes that squeeze or rub the heels can cause enough friction to tear the skin.
How to Prevent Cracked Heels
Cracked heels are in large part preventable. A few simple additions and precautions to your daily routine can keep your skin healthy and happy.
1. Use a Gentle Cleanser on the Feet
The feet can harbor bacteria and fungus, making daily cleansing a necessity. Use a gentle cleanser like VitalFit’s Daily Cleanser. This particular formula prevents bacterial growth, odor, and inflammation. Soap-free products like this are gentler on the skin and let your natural oils do their protective job.
2. Keep the Heels Moisturized
Well-hydrated, moisturized skin can flex and stretch better than dry skin. Picture the surface of your skin like a patch of well-moisturized dirt . Consistent moisture keeps the dirt rich and moist. However, if there’s a lack of water, that same dirt will develop cracks that continue to deepen the longer it goes without water. What was once moist and rich can quickly become dusty and dry. Your skin is like that, too, especially on the heels. Without regular moisturizing, the skin becomes dry, flaky, and taut. The skin on the heels has to stretch and flex over the top of protective pads of fat under the skin. As you step onto your heel, the fat puts extra pressure on the skin. If it isn’t supple and flexible, the skin will crack.
Apply a daily moisturizer every morning to give your feet an extra boost of moisture before you put them to work. Remember to moisturize at night too. Your skin does its healing and repair while you sleep. VitalFit’s Night Moisturizer includes healing ingredients to aid your body’s natural healing process.
3. Cover Your Feet
Help your feet hold onto their moisture by keeping them covered. That could be socks when you’re inside and shoes with a heel when you’re outside. Keeping the heels covered is particularly important in dry climates or when humidity levels are low during the winter.
4. Wear Well-Fit Shoes
Those shoes may look gorgeous or be the latest style, but if they don’t fit well, your heels could suffer. Cracked heels can result from a heel cup that’s too big or too small. Too big, and the heel can slip with every step. Too small, and the heel gets rubbed.
5. Stay Hydrated
If your skin is going to stay moisturized, it needs adequate hydration. That means drinking approximately 64 ounces of water per day. Your water intake may need to increase if your activity level goes up or if temperatures are high, so adjust your water intake as needed.
Do I Need to See a Doctor for Cracked Heels?
Usually, no. There’s no need to see a doctor unless there are signs of infection like swelling, redness, or skin that’s hot to the touch. However, certain medical conditions make cracked heels potentially dangerous.
For example, people with diabetes may have a compromised immune system and cardiovascular issues that make healing difficult. In this case, cracked heels could lead to a dangerous infection that won’t heal. If you have diabetes or a similar condition that puts you at risk for infection or slow healing, contact your doctor to see if you need to do more to take care of cracked heels.
Final Thoughts for Happy Heels
Watch for signs of a growing heel problem like dry, flaky skin or new callouses. Keep your heels clean, moisturized, and covered. If you take action before there’s a crack, you can head off unnecessary pain. Caring for your skin is the best way to keep cracked heels from sidelining you from your favorite activities.