Coming out of summer and heading into the fall and winter months, feet can often suffer from dry and cracked heels. For those wondering exactly what brings on this ailment and what to do to get relief, Dr. Kimberly Wilkins with Advanced Foot Care offers some helpful tips and insight.
Why do my heels become dry and crack? And is there anything I can do for them?
Cracked heels are a very common podiatric problem, particularly in women, according to Dr. Wilkins. They can be very painful and unattractive, especially to those who want to wear the occasional sandal.
"Cracked skin on the heels is caused by excessively dry skin," she explained. "This can be attributed to both environmental and mechanical factors. Standing for prolonged periods can cause heel fissures. If you are overweight, you are putting increased pressure on the normal fat pad of the heel, causing it to expand sideways, thereby cracking the skin if it is not supple."
Dr. Wilkins added that wearing flip-flops or open-backed sandals exposes the heels to the open air, drying them out and leading to callus formation. Walking barefoot is another culprit. Cracked heels can also be a symptom of a more serious issue.
They can be seen in those with vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, psoriasis, eczema, kidney disease and hypothyroidism. Therefore, it is important to be evaluated by a local podiatrist for this as it may be a sign of a more serious issue.
"There are some simple at-home solutions for this problem," Dr. Wilkins said. "Drinking plenty of water and eating a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids helps to keep the skin hydrated and prevents cracking."
A daily regimen of cleaning, exfoliating and moisturizing the feet is a necessity, she added.
"At the end of the day, soak your feet in warm, soapy water for 15-20 minutes," said Dr. Wilkins. "Following this, use a pumice stone and gently scrub your heels to rid yourself of dry skin and prevent buildup. Prior to going to bed, apply a rich moisturizer to your heels and then lightly
wrap your feet in plastic wrap or cotton socks to retain moisture. Try to use a cream which contains urea."
However, she said, the quickest and most effective method of alleviating cracked heels is to consult a podiatrist at one of Advanced Foot Care's six locations. There are many medical-grade products available at every office that can be purchased to treat dry and cracked
heels, including Revitaderm, Foot Miracle and Kamea cream.
Advanced Foot Care has offices in Tennessee at 4308 Brainerd Road, 7550 East Brainerd Road, 5617 Highway 153, Suite 102, and 3742 Tennessee Avenue in St. Elmo. Georgia locations include 2368 Battlefield Parkway and 1716 Cleveland Highway #104 in Dalton. For more information about services or to schedule an appointment, visit advancedfootcarecenters.com.
Dr. Wilkins practices at the St. Elmo office, which is the newest location for the group.