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How to care for dry, cracked heels

How to care for dry, cracked heels

Following these tips from board-certified dermatologists can help prevent and treat dry, cracked heels.

It’s easy for the skin on your feet to become dry and cracked, especially in the winter. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to treat dry, cracked heels at home and prevent them from coming back.

To care for dry, cracked heels, follow these tips from board-certified dermatologists.

  • Limit baths and showers to 5-10 minutes. Bathing for too long can dry out the skin, making dry, cracked heels worse. Be gentle when blotting your skin dry with a towel.

  • Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser. This will help your feet retain their natural oils.

  • Moisturize within 5 minutes of bathing. Look for a moisturizing cream that contains 10-25% urea, alpha hydroxy acid, or salicylic acid, and apply it to your heels immediately after bathing while your skin is still damp and whenever your heels feel dry to lock in moisture.

  • Before bed, apply plain petroleum jelly. Consider wearing socks at night to avoid getting grease on your bedding.

  • Protect your heels. During the day, apply a liquid bandage over the cracks in your heels to create a protective barrier, which can help reduce pain, speed up healing, and stop germs from entering your skin.

  • Wear the proper shoes. If you have dry, cracked heels, avoid open-heeled shoes, such as flip flops or slingbacks, shoes that are worn down, or shoes that don’t fit properly.

Sometimes, cracked heels are caused by a medical condition, such as diabetes. If your dry, cracked heels are severe or do not improve after following these tips, talk to a board-certified dermatologist.

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Last updated: 1/31/22