backup og meta
Health Screening
Ask Doctor

Bothered By Your Cracked Heels? Here’s How To Treat Them

Medically reviewed by Sue Kua, MD · Dermatology

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Oct 11, 2022

Bothered By Your Cracked Heels? Here’s How To Treat Them

While wearing your socks and shoes, you may notice dry and cracky skin around your heel area. Sometimes, it can also be painful. But the thing is, you don’t know where you got it or even how to treat it. This article shares a little more about cracked heels and what you can do to have them looking soft and healthy again!

Cracked Heels, Explained

Cracked heels are a common foot issue. There are those people who may often take this concern lightly as it is normally covered by footwear. But, on some days, they may find it annoying and unappealing.

Cracked heels, or heel fissures, are often the result of a lack of moisture on the feet (xerosis). Your feet tend to get too dry, which is frequently accompanied by either of the following:

  • Thickened skin (hyperkeratosis) 
  • Formation of callus (which are yellow or brown in color, typically around the heel edges)

When these cracks become deep, it may be painful to stand, walk, or even put some weight on them. People with larger, deeper fissures are more likely to develop infection, too. It can progress to cellulitis and ulceration, especially if there are other risk factors such as diabetes.

Who Are Prone to Cracked Heels? What Are the Risk Factors?

This particular skin concern can occur to anyone, regardless of age and gender. 

If you have any of the following, then you may be more likely to get them:

Diabetic people are more prone to this condition and can cause nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy. This can bring about the tingling sensation and pain, and may result to a loss of sensation in their feet. This is why diabetics may not easily observe signs of cuts, sores, or fissures, which can lead to diabetic foot ulcers. 

Some of the contributing factors for cracking or splitting are:

  • Being overweight)\
  • Standing for extended periods of time (particularly on hard floors)
  • Wearing sandals and other open-back shoes (they offer no support for the heel to keep the fat pad under your foot in place)
  • Playing sports that require long periods of standing and running (e.g., basketball)
  • How To Treat Cracked Heels

    It is preferable to prevent and treat dry skin to avoid cracked heels. There are numerous emollients on the market that can help you to both prevent and treat dry skin and cracked heels. Using moisturizers every can offer hydration and prevent your skin from drying out. The most effective formulations have water-retaining (humectant) and keratolytic properties, such as urea, salicylic acid, or alpha hydroxy acid. 

    You may also try doing foot soaks. Placing your feet in lukewarm or soapy water for 20 minutes and gently scrubbing them with a loofah can help remove dead skin. 

    There are also some instances wherein you may need to consult a medical professional if there are no improvements observed within a week. Your dermatologist may recommend any of the following treatments:

    • Debridement. This kind of treatment refers to the removal of tough, thick skin. You should not try to do this at home as it can worsen the situation.
    • Strapping. This entails wrapping a bandage or dressing around the heel to prevent skin movement.
    • Prescription of stronger softening or debriding agents. Your doctor can also follow through with a medical prescription through topical treatments containing urea or salicylic acid. 
    • Use of insoles, heel pads, or cups. This form of treatment helps redistribute the weight of the heel to better provide support. This prevents the fat pad from expanding sideways. 
    • Use of special tissue glue. Some doctors may also consider using glue to hold the cracked skin’s edges together for it to heal.

    Key Takeaways

    Having cracked heels is nothing to be ashamed of. While you may try lotions and other treatments to address cracked heels, always consult your doctor for the best and safest approach. 

    Learn more about Skin Health here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Sue Kua, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Oct 11, 2022

    ad iconadvertisement

    Was this article helpful?

    ad iconadvertisement
    ad iconadvertisement