What is causing your cracked heels and how can you fix them? (2023)

Cracked heels, also called heelsfissuresThey occur when the soles and heels of the feet become dry, hard, scaly, or crusty. Fissures or cracks begin to form in the skin. The skin on the heel may also turn yellow. Although cracked heels are usually mild, in some cases they can cause pain, itching, or bleeding.

Many people have cracked heels, although women are more likely to be affected than men. Read on to learn more about what causes cracked heels, how to treat them, and the best prevention methods.

What is dead skin?

What is causing your cracked heels and how can you fix them? (1)

What Causes Cracked Heels?

There are various causes of cracked heels, some of which can be attributed to medical conditions, while others are caused by lifestyle and environmental factors.

medical conditions

Medical conditions that can cause dry, cracked heels include:

  • Obesity
  • skin conditions likesoriasismieczema
  • fungal infections
  • sjogren's syndromeis a rare condition that causes dry skin due to an overactive immune system, which attacks the moisture-producing glands in the body
  • Palmoplantar keratoderma, which is a group of skin conditions that cause the skin on the hands and soles of the feet to thicken
  • Diabetes
  • hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland responsible for producing certain key hormones does not work properly and produces less than what the body needs

diabetes and cracked heels

People with diabetes should be careful if they have cracked heels, as they are more likely to get an infection than those without the condition.

Lifestyle and environmental factors.

Cracked heels can also develop due to lifestyle and environmental factors, including:

  • Standing for long periods of time
  • Wearing open shoes or shoes that lack support
  • Do not use moisturizer, especially if the feet are exposed to dry and cold weather.

Are there home remedies for cracked heels?

Cracked heels are highly treatable with home remedies. As cracked heels are mainly caused by dry skin, methods that aim at moisturizing are best suited to facilitate the healing process.

balm or moisturizing heel cream

Heel balms are the first choice treatment for dry and cracked heels. They can come in the form ofmoisturizers,explosive,emollients, mirejuvenating. It is important to consider these specific ingredients when choosing the right product for cracked heels.

This can be done every day, especially after you shower, as this is the best time to lock in moisture. You can also wear socks after moisturizing so that the product does not transfer to the floor.

Ingredientshow do they work
moisturizersGlycerin, urea, ammonium lactate, gelatin, hyaluronic acidIncrease the body's ability to absorb moisture.
it stopsLanolin, paraffin, vaseline, cholesterol, stearyl alcoholForms a skin barrier to prevent moisture loss.
emollientsVaseline, vegetable oil, dimethicone, propylene glycol, castor oilFill cracks and cracks
rejuvenatingCollagen, keratin, elastinFill cracks and cracks

Research has shown that the preferred moisturizers for cracked heels contain an occlusive and moisturizing agent for the best possible result.

Scald and Exfoliate Feet

Cracked skin on the foot tends to be thicker and drier than skin on other parts of the body. Therefore, getting your feet wet and using an exfoliating tool can help remove the tough, thick skin that causes fissures to develop.

How to exfoliate cracked heels

Soak your feet in warm water for about 20 minutes, and then gently scrub them with a pumice stone or foot file. When you're done, be sure to apply your moisturizer of choice to the area.

Wear cotton socks to sleep

Wearing cotton socks to bed, especially after moisturizing your feet, is believed to prevent feet from drying out overnight, which can treat cracked heels. The theory is that it locks in moisturizer and prevents it from breaking down overnight, allowing it to do its job.

Clinical evidence of cotton socks.

While there is no clinical evidence to support the claim that wearing cotton socks to sleep cures dry, cracked feet, some studies have found that wearing cotton socks is beneficial for people with other types of dry skin, such as atopic dermatitis. .

liquid bandage

A liquid bandage is a type of topical skin treatment that can be applied to the area to seal cracks and prevent infection. Your heels should be clean and dry before applying the liquid bandage.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil contains several ingredients that have been shown to improve dry skin conditions, including on the heels. Studies have shown that people who use coconut oil on a daily basis have noticed a great improvement in their dry skin. This oil has also been shown to increase the effectiveness of the skin's barrier, decrease inflammation, and protect against dryness caused by sun exposure.


Using honey as a foot scrub can be beneficial for people with cracked heels. Research has shown that the ingredient can prevent the buildup of bacteria, thereby reducing the risk of infection. It has also been shown to increase moisture levels in the skin.

What are cracks in the skin?

When should I see a doctor for cracked heels?

Cracked heels are rarely serious, however it is important to see a doctor if:

  • There are signs of infection.
  • You have an underlying health condition, such as diabetes.
  • The cracks are accompanied by pain, redness or swelling.

Medical treatments for cracked heels

You should seek medical treatment for cracked heels if you have been using home remedies for a week without any relief. Medical interventions for cracked heels include:

  • Cutting through the tough, thick layer of skin, a process known asdebridement.
  • Wrap the heel with bandages and dressings to reduce movement of the skin.
  • Prescription urea or salicylic acid agents that soften the area.
  • Insoles that can provide better heel support.
  • A special type of tissue glue designed to hold cracks together, allowing them to heal.

Treatment for skin fungus problems.

If dry skin is the result of a fungal infection, topical or oral antifungal medications may be prescribed.

How can cracked heels be prevented?

Prevention of dry and cracked heels can be achieved with a healthy foot maintenance routine. Steps you can take to prevent cracked heels include:

Check feet daily

Keeping an eye on how dry your heels feel will help you know when you need to step up your moisturizing efforts.

Wash your feet daily

Clean feet are less likely to harbor infection-causing bacteria that can create problems if you have chronically cracked heels.

Moisturize your feet after washing.

After washing or exfoliating your feet, apply a moisturizer immediately to prevent your heels from becoming dry and cracked.

10 best oils for dry skin

Wear closed shoes with support

What you wear on your feet matters in terms of how healthy your skin is. If you are prone to cracking heels, avoid open-toe shoes and sandals and wear closed-back shoes that provide ample support for the heel and foot.

shoe size and cracked heels

Wearing the wrong shoe size can affect how your weight is placed on your feet, which can lead to cracked heels. Make sure the shoes you wear fit well, especially avoiding shoes that are too tight.

Avoid scented skin products and harsh soaps.

Some harsh soaps or scented skin care products can further irritate the skin, which will only make the problem worse. They can also make the skin drier.Avoid using these types of products on your feet to prevent cracked heels and irritation.

Protect your feet from extreme temperatures

Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can dry out the skin.To help protect your feet, avoid excessive exposure to sunlight, remove wet socks or shoes immediately, and wrap up in thick socks in cold temperatures.

Keep hydrated

Hydration is vital to the health of your skin. Research has shown that the more hydrated you are, the more moisture can be found in the skin. If you want to prevent dry skin and cracked heels, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.


Cracked heels are rarely serious, however if left untreated they can lead to serious complications such as infection. This is especially true for people with chronic health conditions that cause their heels to crack.

The best way to avoid cracked heels is by practicing preventative techniques like keeping your feet hydrated and hydrated. If you develop cracked heels, home treatment with emollients, moisturizers, and other moisturizing agents is often effective as a first-line treatment.

A word from Verywell

Dry, cracked heels can be unsightly, irritating, and even painful, but that doesn't mean you have to live with them. The home treatments and prevention techniques mentioned above will ensure that your feet remain hydrated, clean, and crack-free.

frequent questions

  • What is missing if you have cracked heels?

    If you have cracked heels, the skin in the area is too dry. This means that you don't have enough moisture in the area.

  • What does having cracked heels say about your health?

    In most cases, cracked heels are not indicative of any kind of underlying health disorder. However, they can be a sign of dehydration, skin problems, fungal infection, hypothyroidism, and a rare condition known as Sjögren's syndrome.

  • Is coconut oil good for cracked heels?

    According to research, coconut oil is a great home remedy for dry skin, as it contains several ingredients that can help improve moisture retention. It also contains antibacterial properties, which can help prevent infection if you have cracked heels.

11 fuentes

Verywell Health only uses high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. read ourpublishing processfor more information on how we verify and keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Gupta S, Acharya R.Administration ofpadadari(cracked feet) withPosted by Snuhi(Euphorbia caducifoliaHaines.) Formulation based: an open clinical trial. Sim.2018;39(4):208-212. doi:10.4103/ayu.AYU_57_18

  2. DermNet New Zealand.Cracked heels.

  3. Institute of Preventive Foot Health.Causes of cracked heels.

  4. Institute of Preventive Foot Health.Medical considerations for cracked heels.

  5. Parker J, Scharfbillig R, Jones S.Moisturizers for the treatment of xerosis of the foot: a systematic review. J Foot Ankle Res.2017;10:9. doi:10.1186/s13047-017-0190-9

  6. Hong J, Buddenkotte J, Berger TG, Steinhoff M.Treatment of pruritus in atopic dermatitis. Semin Cutan Med Surg.2011;30(2):71-86. doi:10.1016/j.sder.2011.05.002

  7. Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL.Anti-inflammatory and repairing effects of the skin barrier of the topical application of some vegetable oils. Int J Mol Sci.2017;19(1):70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070

  8. Sede ER, Premarathna NY.Medicinal and cosmetic uses of honey: a review. Sim.2012;33(2):178-182. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.105233

  9. de Amerongen CCA, Ofenloch RF, Cazzaniga S, et al.Skin exposure to perfumed products used in daily life and contact allergy to fragrances in the general European population - The EDEN Fragrance Study. Contact dermatitis.2021;84(6):385-394. doi:10.1111/cod.13807

  10. Engebretsen KA, Johansen JD, Kezic S, Linneberg A, Thyssen JP.The effect of ambient humidity and temperature on skin barrier function and dermatitis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol.2016;30(2):223-249. doi:10.1111/jdv.13301

  11. Akdeniz M, Tomova-Simitchieva T, Dobos G, Blume-Peytavi U, Kottner J.Does dietary fluid intake affect skin hydration in healthy humans? A systematic review of the literature. SkinRes technology.2018;24(3):459-465. doi:10.1111/srt.12454

What is causing your cracked heels and how can you fix them? (2)

ByAngelica Bottaro
Angélica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with more than 5 years of experience. She was educated in psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills necessary to provide strong and engaging content in the healthcare space.

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