Dry, calloused, or cracked heels are not just unsightly and uncomfortable. They can also be dangerous. If you neglect the skin on your heels, it will likely continue to dry out. Cracks can eventually form and grow deeper. Bacteria can enter these deep cracks, also called heel fissures, and cause an infection.

Cracked heels are common, especially in the cold, dry winter weather in Fairfax County. Skin dries out and cracks for other reasons, too:

  • your job requires you to stand on your feet for most of the day.
  • you’re heavier than you should be.
  • you’re not drinking enough water.
  • you’ve got an underlying medical condition, such as psoriasis, eczema, diabetes, or hypothyroidism.
  • you bathe with very hot water and harsh soaps.

How to fix cracked heels

The best way to prevent dry skin, calluses, and cracked heels is to moisturize them every day. Opt for a thick cream rather than a thin lotion. Apply cream to your whole foot, paying special attention to the heel (but avoiding the spaces between your toes). Creams that aren’t water-based, such as petroleum jelly, are inexpensive and easy to find. They’re greasy, but there’s an easy fix for that: pull a soft sock over your newly moistened heels to lock in the moisture.

Ways to prevent them

Be mindful of how you treat your heels. Exfoliate them regularly with a rough washcloth or pumice stone to take away calluses. Drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin cells. Treat yourself to a professional pedicure from time to time. Wear shoes that provide lots of cushioning and support.

When to call the doctor

If your heel cracks are painful, red, oozing, look like they’re getting worse, or prevent you from walking comfortably, contact our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm, at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center. Call our office in Centreville, Virginia at (703) 996-3000 or request an appointment online. Dr. Wilhelm provides expert, caring treatment of cracked heels and all other ailments of the feet and ankles.

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