Many of us are suffering from dry, cracked and unsightly feet right now, largely thanks to a summer spent walking around, often in impractical shoes.
A little bit of self-care in this area can go a long way though. Whether you’re looking to heal cracked skin or simply smooth rough patches, here are some tips for keeping your feet looking – and feeling – soft…
Why do we get cracked and hard skin on our feet?
“It can be particularly painful when the skin around your heel becomes dry and thick, as this often causes it to split, leaving you open to developing a nasty infection,” says Jessica Smith, brand manager for Natura Siberica.
“Several factors can cause cracked heels,” she explains, “including being overweight, wearing open-heel footwear such as sandals, and even our day-to-day routines such as bathing in hot water.”
Using harsh soaps can also irritate the skin, she adds, and can affect our natural skin barrier, which can worsen the problem.
How can I fix cracked heels?
The quickest and easiest way to help your feet regain their natural softness is to moisturise often, says Smith. She advises using a cream specially formulated for this particular area. “This helps to prevent moisture from escaping and your skin from drying out,” she explains. “It’s even more effective if you apply the moisturiser within 10 minutes of showering or bathing.”
Instead of slapping any old body moisturiser onto your sore areas, Smith says to look for products that contain lanolin, petroleum jelly, glycerin, salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acid, for maximum benefit and moisture retention.
You could also try a weekly intense hydration boost, by applying foot cream before bed and wearing socks until the morning, to really lock in moisture, or applying a specialist foot mask from the pharmacy.
“Gently exfoliating with a body scrub or loofah can help remove dead skin too,” says Smith. “Our grandparents would often use a pumice stone to keep their feet in tip-top condition, and you can still find these natural wonders in the beauty aisle.” Smith suggests using a gentle buffing action with pumice, and although tempting, you should never cut away dead skin as this can create more problems.
What about homemade remedies?
For a DIY fix, try raiding your kitchen cupboards. “Honey and coconut oil are both amazing natural remedies,” says pharmacist Navid Sole. “Both have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that are natural ways to treat skin breakages or dry skin.”
He continues: “While coconut oil helps your skin retain moisture, honey can act as a natural moisturiser. Applying these as a foot mask overnight, or simply applying to the affected area, can do wonders for your feet.”
In cases, dry cracked heels can indicate a more serious underlying health problem, such as diabetes or loss of nerve function, says Smith. If you are concerned about your skin or cracked heels, it’s always best to speak to a qualified healthcare professional and seek an assessment and tailored advice.