Treatment for Cracked, Bleeding Heels and Feet

Updated on May 15, 2018
Viola Horne profile image

After years of suffering from dry, cracked heels, I followed my doctor's advice and finally found a cure.

The At-Home Remedy

Cracked, calloused feet can bleed and cause excruciating pain. When heels, feet, and toes become dry and hardened, no amount of lotion, cream, or soaking can help. After years of suffering, I followed my doctor's advice and have finally found the cure for this condition.

Causes of Dry, Cracked Heels

Your feet are the workhorses of your body. They bear your full weight on just a few square inches. That's why the skin on your feet is thicker than skin elsewhere on your body. Your feet are meant to be pliable in order to accommodate the variation in weight from resting your feet lightly on the ground, or pounding the pavement during an intense run. Skin requires moisture in the form of oil in order to stay pliable. When your feet become dry, callouses—dry, thickened skin cells—build up. Because callouses are made up of layers of dry, non-living skin, they are prone to cracking and splitting. Once a crack starts, it can continue until it rips into living skin.

Some people have naturally smooth, soft feet while others are cursed with dry, callous-prone skin. Although tough, dry feet often run in families, age, personal care, and environmental factors can increase the likelihood of developing unsightly, painful heels, foot pads, and toes. Because skin loses its elasticity with age, older people may experience more cracking. Even young people can develop cracked, dry feet from going barefoot or wearing open-heel shoes or sandals. Some medical conditions, such as psoriasis or other skin-related conditions, diabetes, kidney and thyroid disease can cause a loss of moisture in the feet. Being overweight places additional pressure on feet and can increase the chances that callouses will crack and become fissures. Fissures are deep cracks that go all the way to the blood supply under the callous. Fissures often bleed and may become infected. Lastly, living in dry areas with little humidity can contribute to the development of dry, calloused feet.

Fact:

Callouses don't respond to moisturizer; they are nothing more than dead skin and can't absorb moisture into the cell. To moisturize feet, you need to get down to living skin.

Treatment

Forget the high-priced heel creams. While feet need moisture to heal and prevent further damage, most drugstore emollients will do. The trick is to remove the offending callouses so the moisture can reach the live skin underneath then keep the callouses at bay. A three-pronged approach that includes soaking, filing, and moisturizing can help you get the relief you need.

  1. Start by soaking feet in a warm salt water bath for at least 20 minutes. Sea salt or Epsom salt contain nourishing minerals and can help soften callouses quicker. Add a few drops of essential oils, such as tea tree, peppermint or lavender to help clean and disinfect deep into the cracks. Peppermint oil helps cool hot, tired feet while lavender works to heal skin irritations. Tea tree is a great antibacterial and anti-fungal agent.
  2. Dry feet and file with a small to medium size foot file. The best ones look a bit like a cheese grater. These files catch the dead skin inside rather than allowing the debris to fly around the room or mound up on the floor. File off as much callous as you can but stop before you get to the pink skin. Warning: This may be extremely painful if your feet are cracked and bleeding. You may need to attempt this over several days or get someone to help you. Don't try to file callouses before you've soaked.
  3. After you've filed as much callous as you can, hydrate with a rich emollient moisturizer—but only if you do not have existing cracks. If you have bleeding cracks, do not apply a moisturizer at this point as it will sting and burn like crazy. Skip to the next step. If you are in maintenance mode and do not have open cracks, use a moisturizing sealant product with urea, an ingredient that traps moisture and softens skin. Several foot creams and balms, such as Flexitol Heel Balm and prescription Aluvea, contain urea. Working Hands is a balm that also provides deep moisture.
  4. After applying moisturizer, wrap feet in plastic wrap and cover with thick socks to allow maximum penetration for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  5. If cracks are deep and painful or you experience new cracks after filing, apply a dab of antibiotic ointment then wrap with plastic wrap and an ace bandage until the broken skin underneath the callous begins to heal. You may need to wear the bandage for a day or more and especially overnight. During the day, wrap the heel and cover with a sock and a tight-fitting shoe. At night, re-apply ointment and wear the bandage overnight. See your doctor if your pain does not go away, increases, or if redness or swelling occurs. If you are a diabetic or have poor circulation to your lower extremities, see your doctor before wrapping with bandages.
  6. Soak and file feet once a week, moisturizing at least once a day. You should begin to see softer, smoother heels and feet in just a few days.
  7. While wearing sandals and flip-flops are one of the many joys of warmer weather, the lack of support and an extra layer of moisture barrier that closed-heel shoes affords contributes to dry, cracked heels. Try alternating wearing a lightweight, closed-heel shoe at home and save the sandals and flip flops for other occasions.
  8. See your doctor if you experience fever, swelling or red streaks up your foot or leg. These symptoms could signal a serious infection.

The Best Offense

Moisturize your feet daily to prevent deep cracks and bleeding. Apply moisturizer—even just a dab of plain old Vaseline or some olive oil scented with pure lavender oil—under your socks each day to help keep feet softer and smoother.

One Exceptional Cream

While most creams won't moisturize dead, calloused skin, Aluvea can help slough off dead cells; however, it is available only by prescription. Ask your dermatologist about it. It's wonderful!

Microplane Foot File

Microplane Colossal Pedicure Rasp (Foot File)
Microplane Colossal Pedicure Rasp (Foot File)

This giant foot rasp will effectively remove thickened callouses from your feet. Best used when callouses are moist.

 

Gel Heel Socks

Bememo Soft Ventilate Gel Heel Socks Open Toe Socks for Dry Hard Cracked Skin Moisturizing Day Night Care Skin, 3 Pairs (Pink, Turquoise, Grey)
Bememo Soft Ventilate Gel Heel Socks Open Toe Socks for Dry Hard Cracked Skin Moisturizing Day Night Care Skin, 3 Pairs (Pink, Turquoise, Grey)

These are wonderful! The gel-infused heel protects and moisturizes your feet while the open toe lets your tootsies breathe. Wear these every night and never suffer again!

 

Versatile Heel Socks

You can even wear these with your pretty sandals and show off your pedicure!
You can even wear these with your pretty sandals and show off your pedicure!

Questions & Answers

    © 2015 Viola Horne

    New Guestbook Comments

    Submit a Comment

    • profile image

      Peter Weston 

      2 months ago

      I have just completed leg ulcer compression therapy. I now have to wear compression socket for the rest of my life. I do find however that the extra compression leads to greater cracking of the heel and extra attention need to be paid to prevent cellulitis infection from that source. I have found rubbing a piece of my aloe vera plant works wonders on the cracked area.

    • Viola Horne profile imageAUTHOR

      Viola Horne 

      5 years ago

      @delia-delia: I know how you feel! Colorado is extremely bad. I have to run humidifiers in several rooms to keep the cracking at bay. Thanks for the comment!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 

      5 years ago

      Great information...I have dry skin because of my thyroid condition, rather the lack of a thyroid. I can't hydrate my skin no matter what I have used, humid weather seems to be the only cure...now with winter and snow coming up, I dread my fingers cracking, it's painful.

    • profile image

      oiloflife 

      6 years ago

      Try olive oil based soaps!!!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, remedygrove.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://remedygrove.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)