Thanks to our summertime penchant for open-backed sandals and flip-flops, cracked heels are a very common problem around this time of year, according to the NHS.
Indeed, a new survey found that 71 per cent of women regularly suffer, while only 34 per cent of men are happy with the condition of their feet.
The research by Flexitol also found dry skin affected the feet of 44 per cent of people, while hard skin was a problem for 40 per cent.
Cracked heels can be sore and unsightly, and may even lead to bleeding and dangerous bacteria entering your body as cellulitis.
However, with 30 per cent of people more aware of the condition of their feet in the summer – compared with just five per cent in winter – now would be a good time to pay attention to them.
Emma Supple, a podiatrist, said: “Feet are hardworking – or at least they should be! Sitting on a couch all day will keep them pristine, but by staying healthy and moving around they naturally attract dirt and grime that can cause hard skin and cracked heels.
“These are commonly caused by a loss of ‘elasticity’ in the skin when dryness sets in, or when the skin thickens and cracks or breaks under pressure, which can occur through everyday activities such as walking and exercise.”
She recommends a number of ways to treat dry, cracked heels.
“Firstly, check out your style of walking. Some people are what I term as ‘heel beaters’ this describes the mechanism of being heavy of your heels regardless of height and weight,” she explained.
“Stretch out your heel cords – aka the Achilles tendon. This helps with enabling the heel to get to ground contact without hitting the ground hard.
“Keep skin well moisturised, nourished and supple – a daily application of a good urea-based foot balm is a good habit. This aids your skin in fixing its own problems.
“However, letting your skin on your feet get damaged and placed under pressure is what causes the pain. Plus, nasty infections can arise when fissures become enlarged and deep.”
Emma also suggests you should add scrubbing feet, moisturising them and choosing the right shoes into your daily routine.
However, she warned: “Over-use of the metal ‘cheese grater’ style foot files can create more hard skin and which I would not recommend.
“This is because the action of rubbing skin can create friction and heat which in turn can create more protective hard skin as a direct result. So be gentle.”
Additionally, 20 per cent of people were found in the survey to wear shoes that didn’t fit properly.
She added: “Wearing thin-soled, unsupportive shoes creates stresses on the foot that increases the creation of hard skin. Also, choosing mules or sling back shoes can create a ‘slapping’ of the feet onto the shoes that can also create dry, hard skin.”
Source: Express.Co.UK | Not affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide