Auteur: Podiatre Montreal
Dry heels are a rather frequent pathology. While it is generally unsightly, it can actually be quite disabling as it often leads to cracks in the heel which can be quite painful. Dry feet can have several different causes that need to be identified in order to choose the most appropriate treatment. Indeed, there are various options to remedy very dry and cracked feet and the formation of a crack on a painful heel. Some treatments can be easily implemented at home with products that are fairly easy to find, while some more delicate cases require the intervention of a professional.
Causes of dry heels
In the vast majority of cases, the dry heel is mostly unsightly since calluses and thick layers of skin appear on the feet, toes and soles. This condition will most often appear in women after wearing high-heeled shoes, but it can also occur in all situations where there is repeated friction and pressure on the foot. It can occur in people with dry skin, genetic predispositions or suffering from a pathology that dries out the epidermis, making the skin taut or causing the skin to harden. The phenomenon of dry skin on the soles of the feet related to a lack of hydration, also called plantar xerosis, can have various causes.
Indeed, the dry and painful heel can be caused by difficult climatic conditions such as cold or too intense heat over several months, air pollution, but also frequent hot baths, the use of overly aggressive soaps, certain treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy, chronic diseases such as diabetes and certain dermatological conditions such as atopic skin, eczema, psoriasis. All of these conditions offer a favourable ground for the development of plantar xerosis, which can cause pain in the heel with hard skin at this level. Dry heels can also be caused by other factors such as hormonal changes or harmful lifestyle habits such as an unsuitable diet leading to deficiencies, smoking or intense stress.
Home treatment for dry feet
While cracked heels can have a variety of causes, there is a wide range of home treatments that can be very effective. In the first instance, if calluses appear and horn has developed, it is essential to ensure that dead cells are removed. To this end, an exfoliation is probably the best option, this can be done with a pumice stone. To facilitate this, it is best to take a warm foot bath to soften the epidermis a little before sanding it. It is also possible to use a cardboard file for places that are more difficult to access such as between the toes. It is also possible to take care of the arch of the foot and dry heels and moisturize them with the use of a suitable oil or moisturizing cream. It is recommended to do this daily and at bedtime, avoiding between the places between the toes so that it does not macerate. In order to tone the epidermis of the feet, massaging the heels is also an excellent solution.
These different alternatives can be combined and carried out repeatedly to obtain regular hydration of the heels and eventually lead to the healing of cracked heels by reducing their causes. Another ingredient can be used to reduce the effects of plantar xerosis: Epsom salt. It can indeed be used as a footbath and is a powerful enough treatment to remove dead skin with subsequent sanding. To do this, it is recommended to take a hot water bath where Epsom salt is dissolved at a rate of 150 mg per 8 liters of water and then immerse your feet in it for 20 to 30 minutes before carefully drying them and using pumice stone. Finally, among the important recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, it is essential to remember to stay well hydrated throughout the day by drinking at least 1.5 liters of water, and to limit habits that can lead to dehydration such as excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.
The situation is getting worse? Here’s when to consult
As stated earlier, there are many homemade treatment options available to limit the appearance of dry, cracked heels, but also to treat them when the condition is still in its early stages. Among the solutions mentioned are: exfoliation is an excellent way to eliminate dead cells, foot baths, which are also very good preliminaries to exfoliation, massaging the heels with small circular movements, using a moisturizing cream or a suitable oil such as sweet almond oil. Other elements can also be used as part of a foot bath such as cider vinegar or lemon juice. The latter have indeed emollient virtues particularly interesting for exfoliation or the wearing of a non-aggressive cotton sock for damaged feet or the wearing of adapted shoes.
If despite all these treatments the heels remain dry and painful, the skin does not manage to stay moisturized in a durable way and the heels remain cracked, it is essential to consult a professional such as a chiropodist, so do not hesitate to make an appointment in our Montreal clinic with our professionals so that they can propose a treatment adapted to your specific situation. For example, they can suggest insoles, orthotics or even creams available on prescription that are specially designed for these problems, or even a pedicure as well as professional foot care.2021