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Having split, cracked, and dry feet is rough -- literally. Also known as "heel fissures" by the IPFH, these common injuries can be very painful and difficult to heal. Deep cracks can even bleed and become infected in serious cases. 

How do cracked heels occur?

There are many ways to get cracked heels, the most common being dry feet. Genetics can play a role in this; however, footwear can also be a culprit. According to Podantics, wearing open-heeled shoes can cause dryness and expose the heel to bacteria. Another way to develop cracked heels deals with the amount of pressure put on the foot. Podantics states that standing for long periods of time, gaining weight, and shoes that fit poorly can contribute to cracked heels. These instances put extra pressure on the heel, causing the skin to expand and crack.

How to prevent cracked heels

Most people would rather avoid a crisis than fix one, right? The same goes for cracked heels, and Medical News Today has some helpful tips on the subject. Apply moisturizer to the foot, especially around the heel, after a hot bath or shower. This locks in moisture and helps the skin from drying out completely. As well as moisturizing, it is important to avoid soaps that are harsh and heavily perfumed. These can further dry out the skin along the heel and exacerbate the problem. With especially sensitive skin, use scentless products that allow the oils in the skin to do their job.

How to heal cracked heels

Healing cracked heels can be tough, but it is possible according to Healthline. The simplest method is to make sure to be properly hydrated. One of the next best ways is to use a balm that is specially made for the heels. These can help moisturize and aid in exfoliating, which is important in helping heal cracked heels. By sloughing off dead skin cells on the surface, moisture is then allowed to penetrate deeper. Exfoliating can also be done by soaking the feet and using a pumice stone to remove the thickened dead skin. For best results, use a moisturizer afterward. Another option to tackle both exfoliation and moisturization is a warm paraffin treatment with coconut oil and lavender. 

Having cracked heels is painful, but it can be both prevented and treated. By understanding how they occur and how they can be taken care of, cracked heels can be a thing of the past. Look after yourself and heal your heels.