Between training for marathons, walking in New York City, and dancing, I spend a lot of time on my feet. And out of that time, very little is spent recovering or treating my feet—leading to cracked heels—a common winter tale for many of us.
Of course, with colder temperatures in the winter, feet are rarely seen by anyone apart from roommates. However, foot health should still be one of your priorities. Because, as it turns out, cracking can cause issues if it surpasses the epidermal layer (outermost layer) and goes into the skin.
It can cause bleeding, infection, athletes foot, and other fungi. So, what causes cracked heels anyway? And, more importantly, how can you prevent them? Ahead, we break it down.
What causes cracked heels?
First of all, this is one of the most common things across the body, for all genders. It can be due to skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis, hormonal changes, buildup of calluses, the weather, and poor shoe support.
Luckily, there are several things you can do at home to stop the cracks and flakey skin. First, you can get a cream that is specifically formulated for feet, like Kerasal. These products have gentle acids that are effective in breaking down callouses, exfoliating, and moisturizing, all at the same time.
You can also use a foot file or pumice stone weekly to file the dead skin off the feet. Make sure to file in one direction, instead of back and forth to prevent further and deeper cracks. And remember to be gentle when using a pumice stone.
Just like exfoliation, there is a possibility of going too deep past the dermal layer of your skin—causing pain, increased cracking, infection, and even scaring. And then of course, always lotion your feet before bed as a way to seal in the moisture.
Cool, can you stop cracking in general?
Short answer: No. There really isn’t a permanent cure for cracks, but if you treat and maintain good foot health, you should have minimal cracks. Keep up with your weekly filing and daily moisturizing to keep the cracks from coming back.
Remember to dry your feet properly, as cracks thrive on moisture, and damp feet will only aid that. And lastly, replace your pumice stone every 2-3 months to keep bacteria from growing on it. Oh, and don’t share it with anyone!
Of course, if none of this works or your cracks are so severe — see a specialist, doctor, or podiatrist for a proper treatment plan. There could be an underlying cause of the cracks that they could dive deeper into.
In case you want to take a bath while doing some feet maintenance, here’s 9 tips on how to take the best bath.