This winter has seen record setting low temperatures and all that cold air can do horrific things to your skin and feet. Skin needs moisture to retain its smooth texture, but winter brings a lack of humidity that can leave your heels screaming for more. Not only is dry air causing our heels to crack, but it’s also a combination of dehydration (we tend to drink less water in winter) and our preference for hot showers. Soaking your feet in water does not actually moisturize them. Hot water will pull essential oils from your skin and worsen the cracking.
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For some, the inconvenience of cracked heels is only an aesthetic one, but for many others, cracked heels may lead to pain when walking (particularly when barefoot), open and bleeding wounds, or even infection. This can put a damper on everything from snowman building to just going to work each day.
Even if you don’t currently feel pain from your heel fissures, you’ll want to do something about them. Adding moisture is the best thing to do, but we must remove the dry skin first to get to the healthy skin underneath. If your heel fissures are cracked open and bleed or are painful, come see your podiatrist rather then removing the skin yourself. If you heel fissures are just an ugly inconvenience, you can work on them yourself.
While taking a long hot bath will dry out your skin, soaking your feet for ten minutes in a warm tub will help soften the dead and dry layers so you can work them off with a pumice stone. Make sure you soak the stone itself as well then firmly rub your feet in circular patterns. Be sure to rinse the stone and your foot every few minutes to rinse away the dead skin cells. It may take several attempts before you start to see a difference, but take it slow and remember, you don’t have to get it all off in one go. The really important step comes next.
Moisturize! There’s no point in removing cracked, dry skin only to have more cracked, dry skin appear in its place. Make sure you are properly applying moisturizer to your heels and protect your feet properly during the day and night. Remove dead skin during your evening shower then lather on a thick moisturizer and put a pair of light cotton socks on overtop. This holds the lotion onto your feet so it can soak in overnight. You can do the same during the day, but make sure it’s a pair of warm wool socks. Don’t walk around your home barefoot in winter as this can exacerbate already dry heels. Be sure to use a thick moisturizer, but avoid dyes and perfumes.
We may pray for the ice to crack so it can melt and be gone, but a dry, cracked heel won’t go away so easily. If home remedies don’t seem to be cutting it, make an appointment with your podiatrist or with our PediCare salon. Our certified technicians are trained to remove callused and cracked skin gently, leaving your heels smooth and pretty.
READ MORE: Year-Round Foot Care