Answered by Dr. Robert H. Shmerling
M.D. Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing · 30 years of experience · USA
Causes of cracked heels include: • Thickened, dry skin • Repeated or excessive pressure on the heels – for example, jogging regularly or spending a lot of time on your feet • Living in a cold, dry climate • Bathing or showering frequently Other possible contributors to cracked heels are eczema, flat feet, diabetes, obesity, and fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot). Treatment options include: • Use of a moisturizer on the skin over the heel several times a day – This may work best just after soaking the feet. Ointments, such as petroleum jelly can be messy but tend to work better than lotions or creams. • Removing thickened skin using a pumice stone or loofah • Wear a bandage over the cracked skin • Shoe inserts (orthotics) may help shift your weight away from the heel cracks • Treatment for fungal infection if present See a foot specialist (podiatrist) if bothersome symptoms persist – he or she can perform a procedure to cut away thickened, dry skin. They may also recommend skin glue to bring the skin together so it can heal. Let your doctor know if you have fever or significant pain and spreading redness around the skin near heel cracks as this could be due to an infection of the involved skin.
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