IS IT EASIER TO PREVENT CRACKED HEELS THAN TO GET RID EXISTING CRACKS? WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO PREVENT THEM AND THE BEST WAYS TO TREAT THEM ONCE THEY’VE ALREADY FORMED?
Yes, it’s much easier to prevent cracked heels than it is to get rid of them – especially if you’re relying on over-the-counter medication. The best ways to prevent them are:
Don’t walk barefoot in public places: Walking barefoot (especially at the gym) exposes our feet to bacterial and fungal organisms that can infect the skin and nails. These organisms can lead to infections that change the appearance, smell, and comfort of the foot such as athlete’s foot or fungal nails.
Don’t wear dirty socks: The general rule of thumb is if you change your underwear, you should change your socks. Organisms thrive in dark, moist places which could lead to foot issues like Athlete’s Foot. Change your socks at least once daily, more if you’re active.
Spray your shoes daily with Lysol: Although Lysol is not a product to be used directly onto the skin I highly recommend the use of this product to many of my patients to help reduce the presence of germs that commonly infect the feet. The three most common foot infections are caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungi.
You can treat calluses by doing the following:
1) Soak your calluses in Apple Cider Vinegar, water and Epsom Salt for 20 minutes every day. Afterwards apply castor oil, tea tree oil, or eucalyptus oil which are natural anti-fungals directly to the callus for 5 to 10 minutes and then exfoliate with a pumice stone.
2) For minor cases, purchase over-the-counter medicated powders, creams, sprays, or lotions that are specifically formulated to fight the Athlete’s Foot fungus.
3) In moderate to severe cases, visit your podiatrist for a topical or oral anti-fungal prescription.
WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE LOOK FOR IN PRODUCTS FOR TREATING CRACKED HEELS? ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR PRODUCTS YOU TEND TO RECOMMEND?
When patients come to my office with thick calluses and cracked heels I commonly recommend the use of urea 40% gel such as Bare 40 Moisturizing Urea Gel, which can be purchased on Amazon. I inform my patients to apply this gel evenly throughout both feet at night, wrap their feet with saran wrap, and wear socks to bed. The saran wrap will promote the penetration of the gel into the foot to help break down rough calluses and dry cracked skin and promote smoother and softer feet. In the morning, I recommend the use of a foot file such as the Amope Pedi perfect foot file in the shower to remove the thickened and calluses areas of the foot that have been broken down and softened by the urea cream overnight. Apple Cider Vinegar can be used four parts water and one part apple cider vinegar with 3 table spoons of Epsom Salt and soak your calluses for 20 minutes. Afterwards apply castor oil, tea tree oil, or eucalyptus oil which are natural anti-fungals directly to the callus for 5 to 10 minutes and then exfoliate with a pumice stone. I am also a fan of Eucerin cream as it is very effective in sealing in moisture to protect and heal very dry, cracked sin associated with eczema, psoriasis, or medications.
I also encourage my patients to hydrate by drinking plenty of water and eating water rich foods such as cucumbers and watermelons. Make sure you exfoliate regularly in the shower; if your feet are thickened with calluses any hydrating cream will not penetrate deep into your feet. I recommend using a hyaluronic acid that can boost your skin’s water content like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel. I still recommend using Eucerin if not as often as in the winter at least once a week if your feet are still dry. It is important to determine whether the dryness is also a result of the athlete's foot as I mentioned above. If so I still recommend the combination use of urea (maybe not under occlusion in the summer) and an over the counter anti-fungal for at least 3 weeks to clear the dryness.
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