Treatments for Cracked Heels & Foot Calluses

Open-backed shoes, like sandals, do not offer needed heel support, promoting cracked heels.
Open-backed shoes, like sandals, do not offer needed heel support, promoting cracked heels. (Image: feet image by jimcox40 from

Certain skin and medical conditions can predispose you to dry skin and the resulting cracked heels and calluses These conditions include diabetes, eczema, psoriasis and an under-active thyroid. But being overweight, not wearing supportive footwear and being lax about moisturizing your feet also can cause these problems. Fortunately, you often can treat yourself at home once you know what is causing your cracked heels and foot calluses. Treatments include removing dead skin, moisturizing and making needed changes.

Shoe Changes

Wearing open-backed or low-soled shoes can cause you to develop cracked heels and foot calluses, according to ePodiatry. In fact, improper shoes can make these foot problems worse. This is especially true when overweight, as the fat beneath the heel needs support and more cushion so it will not spread or crack upon foot-to-surface impact. Wearing a shoe with a supportive back inhibits the foot from expanding and cracking open. Adding insoles and heel cups to your shoes can help, too. These shoe additions are designed to address walking abnormalities and to offer more foot support, helping to keep tough skin, like calluses, from developing.

Removal and Moisturization

Removing the dead callus skin already built up is the first step in treating foot calluses and cracked heels. Dead skin can't be revived with moisturizer; you need to remove it with a pumice stone through self management; or, you can get a podiatrist to remove it. Don't attempt to remove the dead skin with scissors or a razor. This can lead to infection.

If the cracked heels are not too bad, a good oil-based moisturizing cream application will help get you on the road to foot recovery. You will need to apply the moisturizer twice a day until the problem is resolved. More-severe cracked heel problems may require prescription medication from a podiatrist, according to ePodiatry. A podiatrist can apply strappings to hold severe cracks together, to aid in their healing and to reduce the pain. Some podiatrists may even use tissue "glue" for this purpose. People with heavier weight are more likely to require strappings or glue, as their cracks can tend to be more severe due to the weight placed on the foot.

Maintenance and Changes

Preventing future cracked heels and calluses is a form of treatment, too. For example, if your cracked heels are the result of being overweight, losing the extra pounds can help you prevent this problem. If you stand on your feet for long periods of time, try to sit more whenever you can. And if you have extremely dry skin, using a rich moisturizer each day can help. You also should diligently replace worn-out footwear and shoe additions.

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