Dry heels can be both irritating and unsightly. When the skin on the heel of a person’s foot gets too dry, it may become thick and hard as well as cracked and flaky. The skin on the heels may start to feel uncomfortable, causing the affected person to scratch the area. The scratching just makes things worse, causing the area to become reddened. The symptoms may be worse when a person is wearing shoes or socks made out of certain materials, especially those that are synthetic.
Most people experience dry skin at some point, but dry heels are worse than just ordinary dryness. The skin of the heel becomes very hard and may even develop discoloration. For example, the heel area may appear yellowish or brownish, which may be mixed with a reddish color when inflammation occurs because of scratching.
Often, dry heels are little more than a cause of annoyance and embarrassment, especially when a person must walk around in sandals or bare feet in front of others. In some cases, however, the heels may become so dry, irritated, and cracked that the feet begin to bleed. When this happens, the affected person may have his discomfort change to pain. Additionally, feet with open cracks and tears in them are vulnerable to bacteria, which may find the cracks an easy way into the body. These cracks and tears may also make a person more likely to contract athlete's foot.
Exfoliation is an important part of treatment for dry heels. There are many products on the market that can help a person to get rid of dry, dead skin cells. For example, a person may use a heel smoother, which is small device designed to smooth cracked heels and slough off dead skin. A person may also use a pumice stone or even a rough towel to rub away the dry skin; there are even exfoliating creams that have tiny particles for rubbing off dead skin. Some people recommend soaking the feet in warm water before exfoliating to make the process easier and more effective.
Moisturizing is another important part of caring for dry heels. A person may do well to add a bit of oil to his bath. When he gets out of the bath or shower, he should apply a moisturizing lotion. However, moisturizers aren’t just for after bath time; a case of dry heels probably warrants moisturizing at least twice per day. Wearing a moisturizer to bed is also a good idea, as it allows the moisturizer to soak into the foot during the night, without such impediments as shoes rubbing up against the heels.
For prevention, a person should wear well-fitted shoes and cotton socks. Nylon and rayon socks are only likely to contribute to the development of dry heels. Additionally, regular moisturizing before dry heels develop can help to head the problem off before it begins.