Cracked heels, also known as fissures, can be a nuisance but can occasionally lead to more serious problems if left untreated. Treat them by giving your feet a little more attention, beginning with moisturizing them at least twice a day. Look for thick moisturizers (Eucerin, Cetaphil, others). Some moisturizers contain skin-softening agents, such as urea, salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acid, which may help remove dead skin. They may cause slight stinging or irritation.
Give your heels extra attention before going to bed: Soak your feet for about 10 minutes in plain or soapy water and pat dry. Then gently rub your heels with a loofah or foot scrubber to help remove dead skin. Apply a heavier, oil-based cream or petroleum jelly (Vaseline, Aquaphor Healing Ointment, others), then slip on a pair of thin cotton socks at bedtime to help the moisturizer work.
Don't ignore dry, cracked heels, as over time you may develop deeper fissures, which increases your risk of infection. If self-care measures don't help, talk with your doctor about other treatment options.
Jan. 29, 2021
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing
Our Housecall e-newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest health information.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Dry skin: Tips for managing. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/dry-sweaty-skin/dry-skin#overview. Accessed Feb. 18, 2019.
- Kermott CA, et al., eds. In Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: Time Inc. Books; 2017.
- Litin SC, et al., eds. Skin, hair and nails. In: Family Health Book. 5th ed. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2018.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 18, 2019.