So you're half way through planning your outfit for an event and it gets to the shoes. You've picked out some beautiful sling-backs, but as you slip your feet into them you notice the thick, bumpy hard skin on your heels. To make matters worse, there's a large split in your left heel which burns when you put weight on it whilst in heels!
What's the plan of action? Do you pray that on the day all will be well, or are there steps which you can take to ease you cracked and painful heels?
Here are my tips for how to sort out cracked heels and most importantly, prevent them from troubling you again.
STEP ONE: SEE A PODIATRIST
It may seem a little obvious, but you'd be surprised at the number of people who say to me "I wish I'd have come sooner". Statistics suggest that one in five of us are self-diagnosing instead of seeking the help of a medical professional. Seeing a Podiatrist not only ensures that you're getting the right information and advice, but also enables the hard skin (callus) to be taken off (debrided) correctly. There are many gadgets on the market for doing this at home, but would you trust yourself to be wielding a sharp instrument whilst performing something like a yoga pose to reach your heels? I certainly wouldn't!
STEP TWO: GET SOME UREA CREAM
Urea? Yes you heard right. That one ingredient which derives from urine (don't worry the urea in cream is man-made in laboratories) is a great moisturiser. Most urea based creams come in either a 25% or 10% concentration. It is best to use the 25% concentration in the beginning or when your heels are particularly dry for a week or so and then use the 10% concentration as a maintenance cream. Urea is naturally occurring in the layer of the skin called the epidermis and it has a hydrating effect by drawing water into skin cells (keratinocytes) from the underlying dermis. Applying urea cream topically therefore boosts this process.
STEP THREE: LET YOUR FEET BREATHE
It can actually be just as important to let the air get to your feet. Just as dry skin (anhidrosis) can contribute to cracked heels, so can skin with over-active sweat glands (hyperhidrosis). It is common to have pitted skin around the heels and this can lead to fissures. A good tip for treating this is applying surgical spirit post showering/bathing and routinely changing your footwear.