Dry feet and cracked heels: causes and treatment

Having dry feet is a common foot problem. When the feet are dry, the skin appears flaky and scaly, is often rough to touch and can itch.

What causes dry skin?

The reason many suffer from dry feet is that the skin on the feet, especially on the soles, has fewer oil glands than elsewhere on the body, making it more susceptible to being dehydrated and dry. Therefore, the skin on the feet needs moisture to keep it supple.

In addition, the lack of moisture can worsen by other factors such as ill-fitting shoes, heat and humidity inside shoes, bathing in very hot water, certain soaps, and cold weather which all can draw moisture from the skin. Aging is an underlying factor to dry skin since when aging the skin produces less oil which impairs its ability to retain water making the skin dry.

Other dry feet causes are athlete’s foot, eczema, psoriasis, diabetes, and other medical conditions which can also lead to skin dryness on the feet.

What causes cracked heels?

Dryness on the feet and/or thickened skin (calluses) can cause cracks or splitting in the skin (also called fissures). Cracks in the skin usually occur on the heels of the feet but could also develop on other areas prone to dryness such as the finger tops.

Dry and/or thickened callused skin loses its flexibility and suppleness and can make the skin break as a result of pressure from walking. Increased pressure could be due to excess weight, pregnancy, or prolonged standing.

The cracks can be shallow or deep but often start small and can get bigger and deeper over time – this can lead to painful cracked heels that could bleed. The cracks can allow bacteria, fungus, or infections to enter the body if not treated.

How to get rid of dry skin on feet and dry cracked heels?

If you suffer from dry feet and/or cracked and sore heels it is essential to frequently moisture the feet with a thick foot cream or ointment to make the dry and cracked skin moist and smooth.

Apply cream twice a day or more if needed (depending on the instructions of the cream you use). Preferably the cream should contain active ingredients with moisturizing effects such as 1,5-Pentanediol or Urea. Research have shown that 1,5-Pentanediol has an even stronger moisturizing effect and a lower risk of irritation than Urea*.

If you are wondering how to get soft feet quickly you could use foot peeling socks (exfoliating socks) that reduce calluses and cracked heels. Remember to moisturize the feet to keep them smooth and soft.

In order to prevent dry feet and heel cracks the same logic applies; you need to keep the skin moist and supple by adding a moisturizer. Down below you can find some tips of how to prevent and heal dry skin and cracked heels:

Use Salvequick’s Foot Rescue Cream

Use Salvequick’s all-in-one Foot Rescue Cream that effectively prevents and treats calluses with no burning or itchy feeling. The unique formula with the active ingredient 1,5-Pentanediol provides a strong moisturizing effect and supports the skin’s natural renewal process. It leaves your feet feeling soft and smooth.

In addition, the foot cream is antimicrobial and strengthens the feet’s natural barriers. This cream also treats and prevents heel cracks, dryness, athlete’s foot and bad smell. Visible results in two weeks!

Use Salvequick’s Exfoliating Socks

If you are looking for an instant peel and treatment to reduce calluses and cracked heels you should check out Salvequick’s Exfoliating Socks that cause dead skin cells to peel. These foot peeling socks contain a gel with Aloe Vera and other natural substances that accelerate the skin’s renewal process and make the feet soft and silky after just one treatment.

Wear shoes that fit correctly – without open backs

Wear shoes that fit correctly so that you prevent calluses from developing. Avoid shoes with open backs, like sandals, clogs, and flip-flops, which can make cracked heels worse. In closed in shoes moisture is produced, preserving the softness of the skin.

Foot soak, peel and moisturize the feet

You can soak your feet in lukewarm water once a week to soften the skin.

Once the feet are dry, very gently and carefully file the callused dead skin on your feet with a pumice stone or a foot file. Filing your feet helps to remove dead skin so that the moisturizer better can be absorbed by your feet. Be aware that you should not file on the cracked heels.

Finally, rinse off the dead skin and pat the feet dry. A foot cream should be applied to moisturize the feet. Apply foot cream or lotion two times a day (or as instructed on the cream) to keep your feet hydrated, preferably when the skin is soft after a shower or bath in lukewarm water. It is important not to wash or soak your feet in hot water since it can draw moisture from the skin.

After you have applied the cream, you can put on socks so that the cream stays on your feet.

Avoid certain soaps

Certain soaps can dehydrate your skin, therefore if you have problem with extremely dry feet try to avoid soaps which contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and perfume as it can irritate the skin and make it more dry. If you like, you can use a mild shower oil to wash the dry feet instead of a soap.

Be careful!

If you are a diabetic, have very severe cracks, or if the heel cracks get worse even if you have tried to treat them at home, you should contact a medical professional for advice or further treatment.


* Sundberg JJ, Faergemann J (2008) A comparison of pentane-1,5-diol to other diols for use in dermatology. Expert Opin Investig Drugs 17: 601-610.

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