How to Heal Cracked Heels

How to Heal Cracked Heels

Key Highlights

  • Cracked heels occur when dry, thick skin on the bottom of the heels cracks and splits
  • Common causes of cracked heels include dry skin, walking barefoot, and wearing unsupportive footwear
  • Ignoring cracked heels can lead to complications such as infections and diabetic foot ulcers
  • Home remedies for healing cracked heels include using natural oils, foot soaks, and hydrating moisturizers
  • Professional treatments for cracked heels may involve seeking medical help from a podiatrist or dermatologist
  • Preventative measures to avoid cracked heels include practicing daily foot care, choosing the right footwear, and maintaining a healthy diet and hydration


Cracked heels, also known as heel fissures, are a common foot problem that can cause discomfort and pain. They occur when the skin on the bottom of the heels becomes dry and thick, leading to cracks and splits. While cracked heels may not be a serious health concern in the initial stages, if left untreated, they can worsen and become painful, making it difficult to walk. In severe cases, the cracks can even lead to infections and complications, especially for individuals with underlying health conditions like diabetes.

Understanding the causes and symptoms of cracked heels is crucial for effective treatment and prevention. Various factors contribute to the development of cracked heels, including dry skin, walking barefoot, and wearing unsupportive footwear. Additionally, certain health conditions like diabetes and hypothyroidism can also increase the risk of developing cracked heels. Identifying the symptoms of cracked heels, such as dry and cracked skin, pain and discomfort, and bleeding, is important for early intervention and treatment.

Fortunately, there are several home remedies and professional treatments available to heal cracked heels. Home remedies include using natural oils like coconut oil and olive oil, foot soaks with ingredients like Epsom salt, and hydrating moisturizers like petroleum jelly. Professional treatments may involve seeking medical help from a podiatrist or dermatologist, who can provide specialized treatments such as mechanical debridement, dermal foot balm, and appropriate footwear recommendations.

Preventing cracked heels is equally important to maintain healthy feet. This can be achieved through daily foot care routines, choosing the right footwear that provides proper support, and maintaining a healthy diet and hydration. By following these preventative measures, individuals can reduce the risk of developing cracked heels and promote overall foot health.

Understanding Cracked Heels

Cracked heels, also known as heel fissures, are a common foot problem characterized by small cracks in the skin, typically caused by dryness and thickened skin. This condition can worsen if left untreated, potentially leading to pain, redness, and even open wounds. Understanding the factors contributing to cracked heels, such as lack of moisture, poor foot care routines, or health conditions like eczema or psoriasis, is vital for effective treatment and prevention strategies.

Definition and Symptoms of Cracked Heels

Cracked heels, also known as heel fissures, are a common foot condition where the skin on the heels becomes dry, thick, and splits open. While typically not life-threatening, they can be uncomfortable and unsightly. Cracked heels occur when the thick skin on the bottom of the heel loses its flexibility and cracks under pressure.


  • Visual: The most obvious sign is visible cracks or fissures in the heel area. These cracks can vary in depth, from superficial to deep.
  • Discomfort: Cracked heels can be painless, but in some cases, they can cause discomfort, especially when putting weight on the heel.
  • Bleeding: Deep cracks can bleed, especially if left untreated.
  • Infection: In severe cases, the cracks can become infected, leading to redness, swelling, warmth, and increased pain.

If you experience any signs of infection, it's important to see a doctor to get proper treatment and prevent complications.

Common Causes of Cracked Heels

Cracked heels can arise from various factors such as dry skin, excessive pressure on the feet, or prolonged standing on hard surfaces. Other common causes include obesity, open-backed shoes, lack of moisture, and medical conditions like diabetes or thyroid issues. Improper foot care, poor hydration, and wearing unsupportive footwear can also contribute to the development of cracked heels. Understanding these underlying causes is essential in effectively addressing and preventing this troublesome foot condition.

6 Common Causes of Cracked Heels:

  • Dry Skin: This is the most frequent culprit. The skin on the heels naturally has fewer oil glands compared to other areas, making it more prone to dryness. Factors like cold, dry weather, hot showers, and not using moisturizer can worsen dryness and lead to cracks.
  • Pressure and Friction: Constant pressure and friction on the heels can cause cracks. This can be due to ill-fitting shoes that don't provide proper support, walking barefoot on hard surfaces for extended periods, or being overweight which puts extra stress on the feet.
  • Lack of Moisture: Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, affecting your skin throughout the body, including your heels.
  • Certain Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions can contribute to cracked heels. These include eczema, psoriasis, diabetes, and thyroid disorders.
  • Vitamin Deficiencies: While less common in developed countries, deficiencies in vitamins A, C, E, B3 (niacin), and B7 (biotin) can contribute to dry, cracked skin and increase the risk of cracked heels.
  • Aging: As we age, our skin naturally loses some of its elasticity and moisture-retaining abilities, making it more susceptible to dryness and cracking.

By understanding these common causes, you can take steps to prevent and address cracked heels. Keeping your feet moisturized, wearing appropriate shoes, and maintaining a balanced diet are all important for healthy feet. If your cracked heels are severe or don't improve with home care, consulting a doctor or podiatrist is recommended.

The Severity of Cracked Heels

Cracked heels, if left untreated, can escalate in severity. Neglected cases may lead to deep fissures, making every step painful and prone to infection. Severe instances can result in bleeding, open wounds, and difficulty walking. Furthermore, conditions like diabetes can complicate the healing process, necessitating immediate attention to prevent further complications. Paying heed to the severity of cracked heels is crucial to avoid exacerbating the issue and ensuring timely and effective treatment.

When to Worry About Your Cracked Heels

Unattended cracked heels can progress to serious conditions, warranting concern if they lead to pain, redness, or swelling. Diabetic individuals should be vigilant due to potential diabetic foot ulcers. Seek medical advice if basic remedies fail to improve the condition. If cracks deepen, or bleeding occurs, consult a podiatrist promptly. Chronic issues like cellulitis or signs of infection require immediate attention. Don't neglect your foot care, especially if you have underlying health conditions that may exacerbate the problem.

Complications Associated with Ignored Treatment

Complications of untreated cracked heels can escalate, leading to severe issues. Ignoring the condition may result in deep, painful fissures that can get infected, causing cellulitis. Untreated cracked heels can also lead to difficulty walking and chronic pain. Moreover, if you have diabetes, it can increase the risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers. Seek professional help if the condition worsens to avoid these potential complications. Addressing cracked heels promptly is crucial to prevent such consequences.

Home Remedies for Healing Cracked Heels

For healing cracked heels at home, consider using natural oils and moisturizers to hydrate the dry skin. Foot soaks and scrubs with ingredients like urea or salicylic acid can help remove dead skin and promote healing. Additionally, try using hydrating moisturizing heel sleeves to lock in moisture for dry cracked heels. These remedies can aid in softening the thick skin and addressing the underlying causes of cracked heels, such as lack of moisture or excessive pressure on the feet.

Natural Oils and Moisturizers

Nourish your cracked heels with natural oils like coconut or olive oil to soften the skin. Moisturizers containing urea or petroleum jelly help in retaining moisture, aiding in the healing process. These products can be applied before bedtime and covered with socks to enhance absorption. Opt for ingredients like shea butter or cocoa butter for their deep moisturizing properties. Regular application of these oils and moisturizers can improve the condition of your cracked heels over time. Stay consistent for best results.

Foot Soaks and Scrubs

Soaking your feet in warm water with added ingredients like Epsom salts or essential oils can help soften dry skin and reduce heel fissures. Scrubs with exfoliating agents such as sugar or coffee grounds can slough off dead skin and promote healing. Regular foot soaks and scrubs can improve moisture retention and prevent cracked skin. For a luxurious experience, consider adding natural oils like almond or coconut to your foot soak for added hydration. Exfoliating scrubs can be gentle yet effective in removing tough, thick skin on your heels.

Hydrating Moisturizing Heels Sleeves for Dry Cracked Heels

To combat dry cracked heels, hydrating moisturizing heel sleeves or booties are excellent. These sleeves lock in moisture, aiding in the healing process. They are infused with natural oils to nourish the skin deeply. By wearing them regularly, you allow the oils to penetrate the dry skin, reducing cracks and promoting skin movement. Additionally, they act as a barrier against further damage, especially during winter months or when walking on hard floors. Try them as part of your foot care routine for smoother, healthier feet.

Professional Treatments for Cracked Heels

When home remedies fail to provide relief, seeking professional treatments for cracked heels becomes imperative. Podiatrists or dermatologists may recommend specific interventions based on the severity of the condition. Options could include salicylic acid treatments to remove dead skin, urea-based creams for exfoliation, or even liquid bandages for deep cracks. In severe cases or when underlying health conditions are present, medical attention is crucial to prevent complications.

When to Seek Medical Help

For persistent cracked heels that do not improve with home remedies, seeking medical help is advisable. If you have underlying health conditions like diabetes or poor circulation, consult a healthcare professional promptly. Additionally, if you notice signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or open wounds, it’s crucial to see a podiatrist or dermatologist for proper assessment and treatment. Delaying professional intervention in severe cases may lead to complications, so timely medical attention is essential.

Medical Interventions for Severe Cases

In severe cases of cracked heels, medical interventions may be necessary. A podiatrist or dermatologist can prescribe specialized treatments such as salicylic acid to help remove dead skin and promote healing. For deep heel fissures or open wounds, a liquid bandage may be applied to facilitate skin repair. In situations where infections like cellulitis occur, antibiotics might be prescribed to prevent further complications. Seeking professional help is crucial for effectively addressing severe cases of cracked heels.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Cracked Heels

To prevent cracked heels, establish a daily foot care routine encompassing moisturizing and exfoliating. Opt for proper footwear to reduce pressure on your heels and maintain skin hydration by drinking plenty of water. Incorporate natural oils or urea-based moisturizers to promote skin softness. Avoid walking barefoot on hard floors for extended periods and keep your feet well-hydrated, especially during dry winter months. Consult a podiatrist for personalized advice on preventing this common foot problem.

Daily Foot Care Routine

To maintain healthy feet and prevent cracked heels, establish a daily foot care routine. Start by washing your feet with warm water and mild soap, ensuring to thoroughly dry them, especially between the toes. Apply a moisturizer containing urea or natural oils to keep the skin hydrated. Trim toenails straight across to prevent ingrown nails. Wear comfortable and supportive footwear to reduce pressure on your heels. Finally, consider using heel pads or insoles for added cushioning and support. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to promote overall skin health.

Choosing the Right Footwear

Comfortable and supportive footwear plays a crucial role in preventing cracked heels. Opt for shoes that provide ample cushioning to reduce pressure on your heels. Avoid open-back or high-heeled shoes that can contribute to the development of cracked skin. Choose breathable materials to prevent moisture buildup and skin irritation. Look for shoes with proper arch support to maintain healthy foot movement and circulation. Prioritize foot health by selecting footwear that fits well and offers adequate protection against foot problems.

Importance of Regular Hydration and Diet

To maintain healthy feet and prevent issues like cracked heels, regular hydration and a balanced diet are crucial. Hydration helps in skin moisture, while a nutrient-rich diet supports overall skin health. Drinking plenty of water aids in skin hydration, combating dryness that can lead to cracked skin. Including foods rich in essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, promotes skin healing and regeneration. A well-rounded diet and adequate hydration play a key role in maintaining supple skin and preventing common foot problems.


Healing cracked heels requires a combination of understanding the causes, implementing home remedies like natural oils and foot soaks, considering professional treatments if needed, and adopting preventative measures. By following a daily foot care routine, wearing appropriate footwear, and maintaining hydration and diet, you can prevent future occurrences. Remember to moisturize regularly and exfoliate your feet to keep them healthy. If symptoms persist or worsen, seeking medical help is advisable. With proper care and attention, cracked heels can heal over time, restoring comfort and confidence in your step.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Time to Moisturize Feet?

There isn't a single "best" time to moisturize your feet, but there are two common times that are particularly effective:

  • After a shower or bath: This is a great time to moisturize because your feet will be slightly damp. The dampness helps the moisturizer lock in more moisture. Just pat your feet dry with a towel before applying the moisturizer. For added soothing, cover moisturized heels with these vented moisturizing heel sleeves.
  • Nighttime: Applying moisturizer before bed and wearing socks can be very effective. This allows the moisturizer to work its magic all night while you sleep.

So, whichever time works best for you - morning or night - is a good option. The key is to moisturize daily to keep your feet healthy and soft.

How Often Should I Exfoliate My Feet?

Exfoliating your feet 2-3 times a week is effective in removing dead skin cells and promoting smoother heels. However, adjust based on your skin's sensitivity. Regular exfoliation enhances the effectiveness of moisturizers and aids in preventing cracked heels.

Can Diet Affect the Health of My Feet?

Absolutely, your diet can significantly impact your foot health! Just like the rest of your body, your feet thrive on a balanced diet rich in the right nutrients. Here's how food choices can affect your feet:

  • Inflammation: Certain foods can worsen inflammation, a culprit in many foot problems like arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and tendonitis. Sugary drinks, processed foods with unhealthy fats, and red meat are some examples to minimize.
  • Weight Management: Excess weight puts a strain on your feet. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise helps reduce stress on your feet and ankles.
  • Nutrient Supply: Your feet need essential nutrients to keep bones, muscles, and tissues strong. Include lean protein sources, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your diet for these benefits.

Here's a quick breakdown of helpful foods and those to limit for foot health:

Beneficial Foods:

  • Lean Protein: for building and repairing tissues (fish, beans, tofu).
  • Fruits and Vegetables: rich in vitamins and minerals for overall foot health.
  • Whole Grains: provide energy and support healthy blood sugar levels which can be important for circulation in the feet.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: found in fatty fish, known for reducing inflammation.

Foods to Limit:

  • Sugary Drinks and Processed Foods: contribute to inflammation.
  • Red Meat: high in saturated fat, linked to inflammation.
  • Refined Grains: found in white bread, pasta, pastries; can contribute to weight gain.

If you have any specific foot concerns, consulting a podiatrist or healthcare professional can provide more tailored dietary advice.

Is It Necessary to See a Doctor for Cracked Heels?

In most cases, you won't necessarily need to see a doctor for cracked heels. If you can address them with self-care practices at home, that's perfectly suitable. Here's a general guideline:

  • Home Treatment for Mild Cracked Heels: If the cracks are mild and not causing significant pain, you can try soaking your feet, exfoliating, and moisturizing regularly. This is usually enough to heal the cracks and prevent them from recurring.
  • See a Doctor for Severe or Persistent Cracked Heels: However, a doctor visit might be necessary in certain situations. If the cracks are deep, very painful, or bleeding, it's best to see a doctor to rule out any underlying conditions and get professional treatment. Additionally, people with diabetes or other health conditions affecting circulation should consult a doctor for any foot problems, including cracked heels.

Here are some signs that might indicate needing to see a podiatrist:

  • Deep cracks that bleed
  • Painful cracks that make walking difficult
  • Signs of infection, like redness, swelling, or pus
  • Cracked heels that don't improve with home care after a week or so

If you have any concerns about your cracked heels, it's always best to err on the side of caution and consult a healthcare professional.

How Long Does It Take to Heal Cracked Heels?

The healing time for cracked heels depends on their severity:

  • Mild Cracks: For superficial cracks, healing can happen relatively quickly, possibly within a week. Consistent care with soaking, exfoliation, and moisturizing is key.
  • Deeper Cracks: If the cracks are thicker or deeper, it can take longer to heal, between two to four weeks even with proper treatment.

Here are some factors that can influence healing time:

  • Severity of Cracks: Deeper cracks naturally take longer to heal than superficial ones.
  • Consistency of Care: Regularly following a good foot care routine with soaking, exfoliating, and moisturizing significantly speeds up healing.
  • Underlying Conditions: Certain medical conditions like diabetes can slow down healing.

By following a good at-home routine and addressing any underlying causes, you can help your cracked heels heal as quickly as possible. If your cracks are severe or aren't improving after a week of self-care, consult a doctor or podiatrist for professional guidance.

How do you Get Rid of Cracks in Your Heels?

There are a few ways to get rid of cracks in your heels, most of which involve at-home care. Here are the steps you can take:

  1. Soaking: Soak your feet in warm, soapy water for 15-20 minutes. This will help soften the skin and make it easier to remove dead skin cells.
  2. Exfoliating: After soaking, gently exfoliate your heels with a pumice stone or foot file to remove dead skin. Be careful not to scrub too hard, as this can irritate the skin.
  3. Moisturizing: Apply a thick moisturizer or petroleum jelly to your heels after exfoliating. Look for products that contain ingredients like urea, lactic acid, or salicylic acid, as these can help to soften and hydrate the skin.
  4. Wear Socks at Night: Wearing socks to bed at night will help keep the moisturizer on your heels and allow it to penetrate deeper.

Here are some additional tips that can help:

  • Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated helps to keep your skin moist from the inside out.
  • Wear shoes that fit well: Ill-fitting shoes can rub on your heels and worsen cracks. Choose shoes that provide good support and fit comfortably.
  • Avoid going barefoot: Walking barefoot on hard surfaces can irritate your heels and make cracks worse.

Do Cracked Heels Ever Heal?

Yes, cracked heels can heal with proper care and treatment. Consistent use of moisturizers, foot soaks, and seeking professional help when needed can aid in the healing process. It's crucial to stay diligent with preventative measures to avoid recurrence.

What Deficiency Causes Cracked Heels?

Cracked heels can be caused by a variety of factors, and vitamin deficiencies are one possible culprit, but not the most common cause in developed countries. Here's a breakdown:

  • Deficiencies That Can Contribute: Deficiencies in certain vitamins, particularly A, C, E, B3 (niacin), and B7 (biotin) can contribute to dry, cracked skin and thus increase the risk of cracked heels.
  • More Common Causes: However, in developed countries, vitamin deficiencies are a less frequent cause of cracked heels compared to other factors. These include dry skin from lack of moisture, pressure from ill-fitting shoes, walking barefoot on hard surfaces, certain medical conditions like eczema or psoriasis, and even aging.

If you suspect a vitamin deficiency may be contributing to your cracked heels, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can be helpful. These foods are good sources of many essential vitamins and nutrients. Consulting a doctor or dermatologist can also be beneficial. They can assess your individual situation and recommend a treatment plan, which might include dietary changes or vitamin supplements if a deficiency is identified