Dry Skin & Cracked Heels


Dry skin on any part of the body can be annoying and can cause flaking and cracking of the skin, redness due to scratching, and unsightly patches of thick/hard skin. However, when dry skin occurs on the feet, the symptoms of discomfort are magnified due to shoe wear, the stretching of the skin on the feet each time we step down, and by certain synthetic materials in the socks and shoes that dry the skin out even more. Because of the confining nature of the shoes we wear and the lack of fresh air that hits the skin of the feet due to our socks and shoes, dry feet need specialized care in order to prevent pain.

For most people, dry skin is a nuisance and a cosmetic problem; however, when allowed to become excessively dry, the skin tears and cracks, producing painful “”fissures.”” If treatment is not initiated early, not only can the pain become intense, but the cracks and fissures may bleed. Once bleeding occurs, the skin is prone to bacterial infections and athletes foot.

The heels of the feet seem to be the areas most prone to developing painful fissures. Cracked and fissured heels result from a combination of thick calluses around the heel and dry skin.

Even though the following discussion centers on the heels, this information applies to all areas of the feet that present with dry, hard, and cracked skin.


The symptoms of dry feet, especially the heels can include: 

  1. Peeling and flaking skin.
  2. The skin feels “”tight”” or painful.
  3. The skin may appear yellow or brown in color, and may become inflamed due to itching and scratching.
  4. The dry skin may become thick and hard, especially around the edges of the heels.
  5. The feet may become painful while walking. This discomfort is increased when walking barefoot, in thin sole
  6. shoes, or open back shoes.
  7. If the cracks are deep, bleeding may occur.
  8. Dry and cracked skin is prone to bacteria and fungal infections which can cause serious problems.

  1. Weather: exposure to excessively cold outdoor temperatures.
  2. Dry indoor heat.
  3. Hot baths and showers. Frequent showering or bathing, especially if you like the water hot, breaks down natural skin barriers, allowing moisture to escape. So does frequent swimming, particularly in heavily chlorinated pools.
  4. Inactive sweat glands. This is usually due to the genes we inherit.
  5. Obesity. Extra weight on the feet will destroy sweat glands.
  6. Years of prolonged standing in one spot will also destroy sweat glands.
  7. Chronic skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.
  8. Certain chronic diseases such as hypothyroidism and diabetes may cause the skin to become dry and irritated.
  9. Some prescription drugs such as diuretics and antihistamines also have a drying effect.
  10. Biomechanical foot defects cause abnormalities in the way we walk, which causes certain areas of the feet to bear abnormal amounts of weight. This abnormal weight not only destroys sweat glands in these areas, but produces areas of thick, hard, and dry skin. Some of the more common biomechanical defects which will produce this problem are:
    1. Flat Feet
    2. High Arches
    3. Pronation


The skin of the feet have no oil glands and must rely on the sweat glands to moisturize the skin. The lack of oil glands makes preventing dry skin difficult; but, if we had oil glands on our feet, we would slip and slide with each step we took. In my 30 years of private practice, I have found that the most effective way to treat dry and cracked skin is to exfoliate, or remove the dry dead skin present, and to moisturize the underlying normal skin.

These two steps, exfoliating and moisturizing, will return the skin to its soft, supple, and natural appearance.

Exfoliating dry dead skin allows moisturizers to penetrate deeply into the skin. Podiatrists recommend the following products for this step. These products are safe, effective, and really produce results:

  1. PediNova III Electric Nail and Foot Care System. Safely removes dry, thick, and callused skin without sharp blades or chemicals. Professional grade instrument, crafted with incomparable German technology. Easy-To-Use, with everything you need to make skin and nails look and feel good.
  2. ClearZal Callus Cream - podiatrist recommended. Relieves dry, cracked, calloused feet and heels. This mutli-action cream exfoliates and hydrates skin for softer, smoother feet. Thins and softens calluses and dry cracked skin.

Effective Moisturizers are those that not only soften and hydrate the skin, but they also heal and protect the skin from further drying. Foot specialists, as well as dermatologists, frequently prescribe the following products, because they consistently produce results:

  1. CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion is uniquely formulated to increase the skin’s ability to attract, hold, and distribute moisture, providing all day moisturization with a single application.
  2. The Soft Skin Heel Sleeve is designed as a night sleeve to provide moisturization and relief for the dry and hard skin on the heel. The dermatologist-tested gel gradually dissipates a high grade mineral oil to moisturize, soften, soothe, and rejuvenate dry and hard skin at the heel while protecting the heel from friction, abrasion and pressure.

More Self Treatments For Dry Skin and Cracked Heels:

  1. Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize again. This is especially true after bathing.  Make sure you pat your skin almost dry.  While the skin is still damp, apply Tripod Labs Hydrostat.  This moisturizer will hold the water in, and keep the skin from drying.
  2. Add some oil to your bath.  The oil will soothe dry irritated skin and help the skin “”lock in”” moisture.
  3. Wear well padded and supportive shoes that will protect your feet, at all times. Do not go barefoot!
  4. Avoid nylon and rayon socks, as these materials cause dryness of the skin.
  5. Each night before going to sleep, soak your feet in a half and half mixture of mineral oil and lukewarm water (hot water dries the skin). Soak for 10 minutes. After soaking, massage the mixture that remains on the feet into the skin. (The same solution can be used for a few days). Put on clean soaks or, for an added benefit, put on a pair of our Gel Dry Skin Therapy Socks (see above).
  6. If pain becomes worse, if you have open sores, or if you think that you may have an infection, visit your doctor immediately.

Custom Treatments

The biomechanical foot defects that cause abnormal amounts of weight to be borne by an area of the foot must be controlled. This will reduce the abnormal pressure on the feet, and stop the production of dry hard skin. The heels especially will become soft and smooth, and the painful cracks and fissures will disappear! The “Gold Standard” of treatment (that treatment that is agreed to be the best by the majority of the medical community) to control these defects, which include flat feet, high arches, and pronation, is custom-made orthotics. During my years in private practice, I developed custom-made orthotics that not only cushion and protect the painful and cracked heel, but will comfortably control the foot defects that cause the heels to become dry and painful. Our custom-made orthotics help to reduce dry, hard, and painful areas of skin that crack and cause pain. For more information about these uniquely effective custom-made orthotics, click here.

Custom-Made Orthotics for Dry Skin and Cracked Heels are constructed of thin, comfortable, and shock absorbent “space age” materials. These materials compress as you place your weight on the orthotic, thus absorbing the shock of each step, rather than passing on these shocks to the cracked and painful skin of the foot. When you remove your weight from the orthotic, the orthotic returns to its original shape and height. This occurs because the materials we use have a “memory,” and can remember their original shape and height and return to it. These materials will comfortably keep the foot in its proper alignment, relieving the symptoms of pronation, flat arches, high arches, etc… These are truly “space age” materials and orthotics, which are extremely comfortable and durable. From the impressions of your feet that you make with our Foam Impression Kit, and the information you provide us with, we design and construct a pair of custom-made orthotics that will help to reduce your biomechanical foot defects, muscle imbalances, cracked dry skin pain, foot and leg pain and fatigue, and foot abnormalities. Our orthotics will fit in any shoe with a heel height up to 1 1/2 inches . For information on how to order our custom-made orthotics for dry feet and cracked heels, click here.