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How do you get cracked heels and what can you do about them?

Cracked heels – also known as keratoderma – are a very common skin complaint but, don’t worry, they rarely cause any health problems. The thick yellow or brown crusty-looking skin is more of a cosmetic issue for most people, especially come summertime when strappy sandals and flip-flops expose our feet.

What’s the cause?

Cracked heels are caused when the skin of the heels dry out, becoming stiff and chapped. This means when we put our weight on them, the skin is pushed out sideways and, because it is fragile, it cracks under the pressure.

Some people are more prone to it than others. It can be a problem for those with a medical condition like eczema, diabetes and obesity, or those with lifestyles that put strain on the feet such as jobs that require lots of standing, athletes and lovers of open back shoes.

Luckily, by treating the dry skin you can swiftly get back to supple, healthy looking heels.

Top tips to treat cracked heels:

  1. Moisturise – Use an intense moisturiser such as Flexitol Heel Balm <link> which is designed specifically for dry and cracked heels. This will immediately make the heels feel softer and more supple and prevent further water loss. Apply it 2 – 3 times a day, starting first thing in the morning.
  2. Overnight foot treatment – Before you go to bed, apply a very thick layer Flexitol Intense Overnight Foot Treatment to your feet and then put socks on. This will stop you spreading any greasiness on your sheets and will also keep your feet in a moisturising cocoon all night.
  3. Soak your feet – Dunking your hardworking heels in a tub of warm water with a few drops of soothing essential oils, such as lavender, is not only a great stress reliever, but will soften hard skin within 10 – 20 minutes. This makes it easier to use a pumice stone to gently exfoliate dryness away. Be sure to add moisturiser afterwards.
  4. Add some cushioning – Hard soles in many fashionable shoes can put extra pressure on the feet. Add some extra cushioning with a soft insole or heel pads. Switching to more comfortable shoes such as trainers and wearing slippers indoors may also help while your heels recover.
  5. Seek help – If you’re prone to cracked heels or have very deep cracks which are painful, it’s best to speak to your GP to check for a possible underlying medical cause. If you have a medical condition such as eczema, psoriasis or diabetes, it’s best to let the professionals treat your feet, rather than attempt to do it at home.

Are calluses also causing you trouble? Click here to find out what causes them and how to treat them, fast.

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