Is the Grand Canyon Growing on Your Heel?


Dear Foot Blogger Chick,
Now that it is winter, I have these cracks in the heels of my feet.  They are gross!  My socks even get caught on the edges.  I hate it.  What can I do to fix this?
                                                                                                                                                               Cracked in Wheaton
Dear Cracked,
Yes, I can tell you are from the Midwest.  That dry winter weather can really affect your skin.  It can be a continuing problem.  If you don’t take care of it well enough in the winter, it can also be a problem going into spring and summer.  Any you don’t want to show feet that look dry and cracked when it is sandal season.
Interestingly enough, it is not only the dry winter air that can cause feet to have cracks.  It can also be too much moisture.  If your feet sweat a lot or you don’t dry them properly, it is the perfect place for fungus and bacterial to grow.  This can lead to weakness in the skin and that can then cause cracks in the skin.
So first you need to determine the source of your problem.  If your problem is from moisture, then you need to make sure that you are wearing socks that absorb sweat and channel it away from your feet and you need to make sure you really dry your feet after bathing.  The other important step is to wear different shoes each day so that your shoes get a chance to dry out.
If your problem is that your feet are cracked because they are so dried out, then you need to make sure that you are moisturizing them.  Yes, gentlemen it is not just the ladies who need moisturizer.  You need to put moisturizer on your feet.  Depending on how dry they are, you might want to put on moisturizer at night and then put socks on to help keep the moisturizer on your feet.  You could start this as the new sexy – socks in bed, Woot!  (Maybe you should not take tips from me on what is sexy….)
In the letter, you talk about how your socks are catching on the skin.  In this case you have two choices.  If your feet are really cracked, like you have the Grand Canyon growing in you heel, you will find quicker relief by going to your friendly local podiatrist and having the doctor remove the dead skin from your feet.  This procedure is called debridement.  If you go for this treatment, you can tell your friends that you went for debridement rather than the more colorful “went to have the Grand Canyon removed from my dry gross feet.”  I would probably use the second phrase but I should use the first.
If your cracks and dry skin are not that bad, you can use a pumice stone in the shower to remove the dead skin and keep your feet healthy looking.   You can pick one up in any drug store.  While your feet are still wet, just rub the stone on the dry skin areas.  Over time it will remove the dead skin.
Now for my diabetic friends…  You really need to take care of those feet!  If they are dry and cracked, get to your podiatrist and have them checked out.  Your feet are really important and infections can lead to major problems (like amputation)   Moisturize, moisturize moisturize!  Make sure you are checking them in the morning and at night for any sores.  If you see anything that looks amiss, please get to the doctor.  You don’t want any infections in your feet.  While I am the queen of self diagnosis, diabetic feet are not to be ignored.  Please take care of yourself.
Your pal,
Foot Blogger Chick
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send them to or leave them in the comment section below.  I am not a doctor but I check with one before answering questions. 
Trivia Question of the week– Pumice has been used for centuries in different ways.  A form of pumice was mixed with lime to make the dome of what famous landmark?
Find the answer on our Facebook page – Evanston Podiatric Surgeons – on Friday, January 11th.  While you’re there, please take a moment to “like” us.
Follow us on twitter – @EvPodiatric and the answer will be tweeted on Friday morning as well.
The very nice doctors at Evanston Podiatric Surgeons have opened a new location!  They are very excited to have an office on the “Magnificent Mile” in Chicago.  So, if live or work downtown, help is even closer!  Stop in and say “Hello and Congrats”.  They would love to meet you.  They are really that friendly! 
Mag Mile Foot and Ankle Institute
333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1825
Chicago, IL   60601

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