Dry feet and cracked heels are common problems, even in Powder Springs, where the weather is warm for much of the year. Now, for some people, this is mostly a cosmetic problem. But for patients with diabetes, cracks in your skin increase your risk for ulcers. And for any patient, ignoring dry feet increases your risk for infections and bleeding. Want to restore your skin's appearance and avoid complications? This post will tell you how to prevent and treat dry feet and cracks in the skin.

Cracked Heels: Why they Form

Your heels could crack (or fissure) for many reasons. But the main reason is loss of moisture in your skin. Now, your feet could dry out due to your environment. But the lack of moisture in your skin could also be related to your hormonal levels, or your age. (When you get older, the glands that produce oils in your body stop working as well. And that can make you more likely to develop dry feet.)

Other conditions can, such as psoriasis and eczema, can also dry your feet out. And that's a concern no matter how old you are. Also, any changes to the surface of your skin, particularly callouses, can increase the risk of cracking.

Signs of Dry Feet

Cracks don't develop as soon as your feet dry out. First, you may notice that some of the skin on your foot is rough or thick, Then, that area could feel itchy, or you may notice that the skin flakes off in certain areas. Finally, if you don't address these signs of dry feet, you may develop fissures and cracked heels. Don't intervene then? All of a sudden, your cracks may grow deep enough that they start to bleed. And, if you also suffer from diabetes, it may be hard to heal these wounds, leaving you vulnerable to ulcers and amputations. For that reason, it's important to treat your heel cracks and dry skin as soon as possible.

How to Treat Cracked Heels and Dry Feet at Home

The best way to treat cracked heels is to prevent them from forming in the first place. To do so, you'll need to keep the skin on your feet well moisturized. Here's how to do so:

1. Moisturize your feet once or twice each day.

Make sure to use a thick product, such as Vaseline. And try to make at least one application just before bed, covering your feet afterwards with loose-fitting cotton socks to help lock in the moisture while you sleep. 

2. Go for at home pedicures.

Start by soaking your feet in warm water. Add a bit of soap and some Epsom salts to cleanse and soothe your feet. Then, you can gently remove any dead skin sells with a sterile foot brush, ending the process by massaging your heels and the balls of the feet with your favorite moisturizer.

3. Increase your fluids.

When your body dehydrates, you're more likely to develop dry feet and cracked heels. To avoid this outcome, try to drink at least 8 cups of water a day. But be sure to increase those fluids if the weather heats up or if you're exercising vigorously.

4. Make smarter shoe choices.

When you have dry feet, wearing shoes that are too right can cause irritation and cracking in the skin? Other shoes to avoid are pairs that are made from stiffer fabrics, such as leather. Already have cracked heels? Consider switching to shoe styles that are made from knit materials or more pliable leather. 

5. Add some humidity to your environment.

If your feet are chronically dry and cracked, you may need to get a humidifier for the home, since adding more moisture to the environment can help prevent your skin from drying out.

Now, in addition to these steps, you'll need to pick the right moisturizer for your feet if you really want to heal dry, cracked skin. So, what are your choices? Let's explore some of the options available at the drug store.

What's the Best Moisturizer for Cracked Heels?  two dry feet with cracked heels

When you shop for a moisturizer, you'll find a variety of products, including foot creams and lotions. But what's the difference, and which is the right choice? You can choose lotion if your feet are mildly dry. Lotions are also better for rehydrtaing the thin skin on top of your feet, whereas creams are better for thicker skin spots, like the heels and soles of your feet.

Why, you may ask? Well, lotions are thinner than creams, so they don't reach deep down into the layers of your skin. On the other hand, creams like those from Cetaphil or Eucerin are thicker and can rehydrate rougher, thicker skin patches. In some cases, however, over the counter creams still won't be strong enough to heal your cracked skin. At that point, Dr. Alvin Cowans may prescribe a stronger product, one that also contains urea, in order to improve your skin's elasticity and hold onto its own moisture.

Now, all of these recommendations are great for patients without any underlying conditions. But for our patients with diabetes, mositurizing dry feet is a medical necessity. Remember, when you have diabetes, even a small change to the surface of your skin can lead to major health concerns. (That includes ulcers, wounds that are hard to heal and can threaten your limb health.) For that reason, you should check your feet every day for any signs of dryness. And if you notice changes that suggest you're developing dry feet or cracked heels? Make an immediate appointment at our podiatry practice in Powder Springs.

Treating Cracked Heels in Powder Springs

Now, no matter how religiously you care for your feet, and how careful you are about moisturizing, you still may discover that you have dry feet. Have you noticed changes such as thicker skin patches, or flakes on the skin? Don't ignore these warning signs. If you do, you're just increasing your risk for cracked heels, bleeding and infections. Instead, schedule an immediate appointment at our office in the Lost Mountain neighborhood of Powder Springs. We'll relieve your discomfort and restore the healthy appearance of your skin.