Cracked Heels – How to Fix Them

There are different kinds of skin conditions that appear on the feet, and one of the most common is the cracked heel. For those who don’t know, cracked heels are a condition wherein the skin surrounding the heels of the feet is extremely dry, which then creates the crusty and flaky appearance of the heels. So, what causes cracked heels? And can they be treated? We will find out more as we take a look at the details about cracked heels and how to fix them.

The Causes of Cracked Heels

Cracked heels are caused by various factors, but these factors are similar in terms of how they turn the skin from being soft and elastic to dry and sore. Here are some of the most common causes of cracked heels.

Walking Barefoot

close-up photo of a cracked heel

Walking barefoot most of the time can cause cracked heels, as the heels of your feet are exposed to different elements, and they don’t have ample protection. When your heels are constantly hitting the ground while you are walking or running barefoot, they will tend to get sore, and this soreness will eventually develop into dryness.

Once the heels are dry, the skin would then start to crack. The worse is that the skin on the heels would thicken due to having calluses, and the cracks would start to flake since there are already multiple layers of cracked skin on the heels. So, if you are walking barefoot almost all the time at home, you should at least wear a soft pair of slides or slippers to provide cushioning or protection for your heels.

Wearing the Wrong Size of Shoes

The same soreness of the heels can also be caused by wearing the wrong size of shoes. When you wear shoes that are too tight or too loose on your feet, the shoes don’t really provide the best support and cushioning for the feet.

Wearing tight shoes can cause soreness in different areas of the feet, which includes the heels. Wearing loose shoes can cause too much friction between your feet and the interior of the shoes, and this will lead to painful blisters that will eventually dry up and turn into cracked layers of skin on the soles. So, always wear shoes in the correct size to prevent your soles, especially the heels, from getting cracks.

Not Having Proper Hygiene

Close-up of a womans hands touching the dry rough cracked skin of her bare leg. Peeling, cracks and cornea sole of the feet. Dryness, dermatitis, dehydration, eczema, psoriasis concept.

Not having proper hygiene, like not regularly cleaning, removing dead skin, and moisturizing your feet, can cause cracked heels. When you don’t clean your feet properly, there is a high chance that your feet will get infected with harmful elements that can cause athlete’s foot. An athlete’s foot is a skin condition caused by a fungus that makes the feet scaly, sore, and itchy.

Cracked heels also appear when you don’t remove the dead skin cells on the soles of your feet, as the dead skin cells would just accumulate and cause cracks on the top layer of the skin. Having proper hygiene is basically essential in preventing and treating cracked heels.

How to Treat Cracked Heels

Luckily, cracked heels can easily be treated as long as you keep the treatment going for days or weeks, depending on the severity of the cracks. To know more, here are some of the best ways for you to treat cracked heels.

Clean the Soles of Your Feet Regularly

using a pumice stone on the soles of the foot

One of the most important things that you need to do to prevent and treat cracked heels is to clean the soles of your feet regularly. Fortunately, cleaning the soles of the feet is very easy to do, and you can do it while taking a shower. All you need for cleaning are foot scrubs and pumice stones, and you have to apply the foot scrub on your feet and then gently use the pumice stone in a circular motion to scrub away any dirt, grime, and dead skin cells.

Moisturize Your Feet

applying moisturizer on a cracked heel

Besides cleaning your feet regularly, you will also need to moisturize them daily in order to prevent the skin on your feet from drying. You can use ordinary skin moisturizers for your feet, but there are also moisturizers or creams that are specifically used for the feet. These specially formulated foot moisturizers get deep into several layers of your feet’s skin so that they can provide better and longer-lasting moisturization and protection.

If regular moisturizers aren’t available, you may apply occlusive moisturizers, which are the ones that trap moisture and prevent it from evaporating. Some of the best occlusive moisturizers include petroleum jelly, mineral oil, and lanolin. [1] Apply these moisturizers at night, particularly before going to bed.

You may read our Guide to Selecting Moisturizing Solutions for Your Skin for the best tops and recommendations.

Wear Cotton Socks Before Sleeping

a woman wearing cotton socks

Once you have applied a moisturizer on your feet, you should then wear cotton socks before sleeping. The cotton socks can help in retaining the moisture on your feet, and this is essential if you want your cracked heels to heal faster.

Moreover, the cotton socks are also worn to prevent the moisturizer you applied from staining your bed sheets, which is another dilemma that you want to prevent. Repeat the process of applying moisturizer and sealing it with cotton socks for several days until you see improvement in the texture and appearance of your heels.

These are the essential things you need to know about cracked heels and how to treat them. While treating cracked heels is relatively easy, it will take a long time for the heels to heal fully. So, be prepared to treat the cracked heels for many days or weeks. 


[1] Nichols, H. (2020, January 19). Six fixes for cracked heels. Medical News Today. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from