How to heal cracked heels

Cracked heels are a common problem that can often be treated at home with a little TLC (tender loving care).

Common causes include dry cold skin, standing for long periods of time, aging skin, wearing open-back footwear, and some medical conditions such as obesity and eczema.

Hard, dry, thickening skin is often the first sign that your heels need some attention. If you get in early and show some love, the problem usually goes away. However, if left untreated, cracked heels can sometimes lead to serious problems.

Here are some tips to help heal your cracked heels:

1. Moisturise

Moisturise your feet 2 to 3 times a day. Use a good moisturiser that soaks in really well. Use a circular massaging motion when rubbing the moisturiser in to help soften your skin.

2. Soak your feet

Before going to bed, soak your feet in a bowl of plain or mild soapy water for about 10 minutes. Gently rub your heels with a foot scrubber or loofah to remove the dead skin (don’t use anything sharp to scrape away the dead skin as you may cut yourself). Pat your feet dry and apply moisturiser.

3. Wear cotton socks to bed

Wearing a pair of thin 100% cotton socks to bed after applying moisturiser helps keep the moisture in while allowing the skin to breathe. Socks also prevent the sheets from getting stained.

4. Know when to seek help

Cracked heels can get worse and develop into deeper fissures, which can become infected. If your self-care measures aren’t working or your cracked heels are getting worse or causing pain, please visit your healthcare provider for advice. People with diabetes have an increased chance of developing foot problems and need to take extra care to look after their feet – see our page on foot care with diabetes.

References

  1. Take steps at home to manage dry, cracked heels Mayo Clinic, US
  2. How to heal cracked heels Mayo Clinic, US
  3. Cracked heel DermNet NZ