Cracked heels rarely cause any issues, but they can cause irritation and, in more severe cases, can be sore and painful. Luckily, they can be soothed swiftly and restored to their former glory.
Why do we get cracks in our heels?
Our skin has a protective outer layer with oils that trap moisture in the skin, but when this barrier is damaged –by badly fitting footwear, harsh winter weather or a poor diet – precious water escapes. As the skin dehydrates it becomes brittle, inflexible and hard. This is not ideal for a part of the body that we put so much pressure on every day! Over time, the weight of our bodies causes the skin to split and bleed. The cracks may be small and shallow, or deep and bleeding and the skin around it may look pale or yellow in colour.
What causes cracked heels to hurt?
When our heels crack, they split apart the outer protective layers of the skin and reveal lower layers which can be tender or even painful. These layers may be more sensitive and become easily irritated by your environment. What’s more, the cracks can peel and become easily snagged on socks or clothing.
When does it become dangerous?
Cracked heels are rarely a health problem and usually more of a beauty issue. However, in severe cases, cracks can become so deep that they bleed. This can be very painful in itself, but more importantly can expose us to the risk of infection. After all, our feet are our main contact with the world, including dirty gym floors, sweaty shoes and all kinds of other breeding grounds for bacteria.
For some people, cracked heels are more serious. That includes those with underlying medical conditions where there is more risk of severe skin damage or infection, for example those with diabetes. In these cases, it is always best to speak to a doctor.
How can I soothe painful heels?
Cracked heels are caused by very dry skin, so rehydrating and restoring the skin barrier is the most important step you can take. Apply a rich moisturiser specifically designed for cracked heels, such as Flexitol Heel Balm <link> at least 2 – 3 times a day. Only touch your heels with clean hands and try to cushion them as much as possible, whether with comfy shoes, padded insoles or bandages. You should notice a difference rapidly, but if not, then speak to your doctor.
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