Whether your cracked heels are painful and irritating, or simply just a little unattractive (especially in sandal weather), there are some simple and podiatrist-approved methods to soothe your cracked heels that you can try at home.
Podiatrist and Vionic Innovation Member Jackie Sutera, DPM, explains what causes these dry and cracked heels anyway: Feet have a layer of fat beneath the skin of the feet that makes it a little more comfortable to walk, but this fat pad naturally gets thinner as we age. “Cracked heels are a thickening of the skin,” says Dr. Sutera. “It’s the body’s way of protecting the bones of the feet when the fat pad is wearing away.”
To treat cracked heels, think safety first. Are your cracked heels so severe that they are bleeding or painful? Before trying any of the suggestions here, you should see a doctor first.
But if you simply have dry calluses or minor cracks, try one of these podiatrist-approved remedies for cracked feet.
NO foot razors. These dangerous tools cut way too deep. “There is a very fine line between the epidermis and the dermis,” says Dr. Sutera. “The dermis should really never be exposed.” Those razors can shave away a large portion of the epidermis and put yourself at risk of infection. “If you have any type of circulation issues, you can get such a bad infection that you could literally lose your foot,” Dr. Sutera warns. For example, proper foot care for diabetics is crucial. Seriously—drop the razor.
Go for creams. Your best option to treat cracked heels is a foot cream that has lactic acid, salicylic acid, or uric acid. Slather it on at night to help absorption into the skin. Otherwise, your shoes will just absorb it all.
Wrap it. After applying foot cream, wrap your feet in plastic wrap and give yourself a little overnight spa treatment. This not only will help lock in moisture while you sleep, but it will actually create a warm environment on the feet to allow better absorption.
Pick padded. Consider buying padded socks. That extra cushion under the feet will stand in for the lost “fat pad,” so your body won’t feel the need to protect itself with calluses.
Pick a pumice. The key to using a pumice stone to treat cracked heels is going only in one direction—not back and forth, contrary to popular belief. (Even salon employees can make this mistake.) Filing the callus back and forth could actually crack the skin worse, so go in one direction only and be gentle.
Opt for orthotics. Yeah, these have a bad rep for being not so cool, but orthotic inserts have come a long way and can easily be slipped into your favorite shoe. These will help anchor your foot in the shoe so there will be less friction.
Keep it closed. You might want to clear up those callused heels so you can finally wear those open-heeled shoes again, but unfortunately, open-heeled shoes will make cracked heels worse. Because they offer less support and change the way you walk, your feet may develop more calluses each time you wear them. Wear open-heeled shoes in moderation to prevent cracked heels from coming back.
TBH, many heel issues will go away if you buy properly fitting shoes in the first place. A good shoe can reduce friction when you walk and prevent heels from drying out. However, we all have our style preferences, but try to meet your heels halfway on this one.