Causes And Treatments For Dry Cracked Heels: How To Relieve Xerosis

Health & Medical Blog

About 20 percent of American adults have had the foot problem called cracked heels or heel fissures. Known medically known as xerosis, cracked heels can occur on one of both of the heels. While it's only a cosmetic embarrassment for many people, for others, it's a painful and unhealthy condition. If you think you may suffer from cracked heels, here are some of the causes and treatments.


Several factors can cause dry, cracked heels:

  • Skin that's naturally dry can incline a person to developing cracked heels.
  • Standing too long at work, particularly on concrete or other hard surfaces, can lead to heel fissures.
  • Low humidity in dry, cold weather can dry out the skin, leading to this condition.
  • Having eczema, psoriasis, and other skin problems can be a cause.
  • Medical conditions causing dry skin, such as neuropathy from diabetes, can result in your skin perspiring less. As a result, there's less moisture on your skin, leading to heel fissures.
  • Being overweight can put additional pressure on the fat pad underneath your heel, forcing it to expand sideways. If your skin is inflexible, deep cracks can form.
  • Wearing open-back shoes is another factor. This can also force the fat pad under the heel to enlarge sideways.
  • Aging can be a cause. This is because the skin is less flexible as you get older, so cracks occur more frequently.


  • Applying oil-based topical moisturizing creams on hard, dry skin helps to repair cracks.
  • Taking flaxseed oil capsules—As flaxseed is rich in omega 3 and omega 6 important fatty acids, it can improve dry skin. Just be sure you're under the supervision of your doctor so that you know how much to take.
  • Oral antibiotics may be needed in the worst cases.

Shoe Wear and Insoles

Wearing the correct shoes and insoles is critical. You should not walk barefoot as this can strip your skin of its natural oil. What's more, don't wear open shoes or sandals. Your podiatrist will probably recommend shoes that can take the pressure off your heels, so they can heal.

Insoles help change how you walk, which helps prevent thick skin from forming. The best insoles are custom-made ones that are designed to redistribute pressure on heel abnormalities. Heel cups, which are inserted in shoes, are also effective in stopping the heel fat pad from extending sideways.

Considerations and Warnings 

  • Do not remove hard heel skin. Sometimes people use scissors or a razor blade, which can cause skin to become infected when too much skin is shaved off.  
  • Never soak your feet in boric acid or Epson salt because they contain salts that can dry out your skin. 
  • Don't shower or bath more than once daily. Rather than hot water, use lukewarm or cool water. 
  • Instead of rubbing your dry skin, pat it dry. 
  • Refrain from using lotions containing perfumes or dyes. 

Often people have cracked heels, but misdiagnose themselves, thinking they have another foot problem. If you have any type of foot pain, don't hesitate to see a podiatrist like Northside Foot & Ankle.


5 February 2015

Outstanding In-Home Care

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