December 23, 2014 - 6:25am
Each and every year when the winter weather makes its presence known, tens of thousands of adults of all ages flock to their podiatrist with the same problem. For some, cracked heels are something of a way of life and are therefore just accepted as such, but for others the problem tends to come in wholly unpredictable waves. One minute they’re fine, the next they’re facing such a severe case of cracking that their heels actually end up bleeding.
In any and all cases however, the good news is that cracked heels can be remedied by way of relatively simple DIY care methods. But before getting to grips with getting rid of cracked heels outright, it’s important to take the time to learn what it is that causes the problem in the first place.
The Causes of Cracked Heels
There are plenty of triggers that can lead to a case of cracked heels, but more often than not it is a case of certain common causes combining to damage the skin of the feet.
• Cold Weather – The frosty conditions can wreak havoc with skin all over the body
• Indoor Heating – Artificial heating has a tendency to be overly dry and can impact the skin’s health
• Poor Quality Footwear – Any footwear that rubs, chafes or puts pressure on the heels can be damaging
• Improper Hygiene – Cleanliness will always play a role in the health of the skin and in the case of substandard hygiene practices will contribute to dry, cracked heels
• Day-Long Standing – Those on their feet for much of the day and particularly those standing in one spot for long periods of time are much more prone to dry and cracked heels
More often than not, it tends to be one or more of the above triggers that contribute to any given case of cracked heels. But at the same time, there will always be those that are simply more prone to dry and cracked skin in general than others.
So in all such cases, how can cracked heels be prevented?
Simple Preventative Measures
The key rule to follow is one of proactivity – dry heels prevented are vastly preferable to dry heels treated at a later date. And while there will always be certain instances where the problem is largely inevitable, for the vast majority of people there are plenty of ways and means to steer clear of cracked heels entirely.
• Appropriate Footwear – When shoes are too loose, too tight or generally ill-fitting, it’s 100% inevitable that they will have a negative impact on the health of the respective foot’s skin. So before going any further with treatments of preventative measures, it’s of crucial importance to make sure that the shoes worn are the ideal shape and size for the feet.
• Use Warm Water Only – Washing the feet on a regular basis is of course important, but what’s even more important is ensuring that the water used is of the correct temperature. Water that’s too hot or cold can be a guaranteed trigger for dry skin, which is why it’s crucial to use only lukewarm water for washing the feet – especially in areas where skin is already dry.
• Exfoliate Regularly – Along with cleansing it’s of the utmost importance to get into the habit of regularly exfoliating the skin of the feet, particularly around the heels. This allows for the removal of dead and unhealthy skin cells in order to encourage the development of healthier skin. Use an approved product or device on a regular basis.
• Moisturise – One of the most powerful and important foot care products anyone can arm themselves with is a simple, approved moisturiser. Just as is the case across the rest of the body, the feet can often need more than a little help in retaining their natural moisture. As such, using moisturiser on a regular basis can build to a huge and lasting difference, even in the case of the more severely dry and damaged skin.
• Foot Soaks – And of course, there’s much to be said for the classic foot soak every now and again, in which lukewarm water is used in conjunction with bathing salts to gently bathe the feet for 15-20 minutes or so. Over time, this again can build to a lasting and noticeable difference.
There will always be those who believe that their problematic dry skin is entirely out of their hands and therefore do little to assist full and rapid healing. In reality however, it often takes more than a few simple steps like those listed above to improve the look and feel of even the driest heels for the long-term.