What Really Causes Cracked Heels—and How to Get Rid of Them

Fix your cracked heels with these expert tips and products and you’ll be wearing those summer sandals with confidence.

Cracked heels are common

Closed-up of a dry and cracked heelWeerameth Weerachotewong/Shutterstock

Don’t worry that you’ve somehow mistreated your feet because your heels are dry and cracked: “Dry heels—aka xerosis—is very common in the feet and heels because they’re constantly under pressure from shoes and walking,” says New York City podiatrist Emily Splichal, DPM. She adds that cracked heels tend to appear more often during the summer, as feet spend more time exposed and in sandals. “Without proper exfoliation and hydration, the rate of callus or dry heel formation can accelerate,” she says. And of course, if you wear high heels, they do a number on your feet.

Use creams designed for the feet

Young woman with cream for feet sitting on bedProstock-studio/Shutterstock

A regular daily body moisturizer is not going to do enough to benefit cracked heels. Podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, a Vionic Innovation Lab member recommends using creams that are specially formulated for tougher foot skin, including Amlactin and Kerasal. “These have gentle but effective acids that help break down the callous a little at a time,” she says.

Look for key ingredients

Elderly woman putting cream on swollen feet before put on shoesToa55/Shutterstock

If you’re battling cracked heels, you’ll need to slather moisturizer on your feet daily. Another option is a multitasking product that contains urea, lactic acid, or salicylic acid. Dr. Splichal suggests patients pick up Arm & Hammer Foot Care Moisturizer + Gentle Exfoliators, which is also spiked with coconut oil for silky skin.

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