There is nothing worse than that feeling of sandpapery feet grazing against your sheets when you’re all cosy in bed and yet not many people talk about it. Why is there such a taboo around feet? Not everyone likes to talk about the condition of their feet. Well let’s face it, most of us are embarrassed to share our feet stories in public, even with those closest to us. Instead, we keep them hidden away: out of sight, out of mind.
The best treatment for cracked heels is prevention
This means moisturising on the reg, weekly exfoliating, and choosing the right footwear. We often panic and only start to care for our feet when the warmer months approach, and we anticipate having them exposed. So, if you want to put your best foot forward and prevent cracked heels from occurring in the first place, make footcare a part of your daily routine even when it’s not sandal season.
Getting to the bottom of cracked heels
Cracked heels develop when the skin around your heels splits apart. They start as small tears, and if left untreated, can grow into deeper cracks - rough thickened skin around the rim of your heel is usually the first sign of it.
But why do our heels become cracked in the first place?
Dehydrated skin is one of the biggest causes of cracked heels. The foot, a naturally dry area, lacks in oil-producing glands, which are essential to keep your skin healthy, soft and protected. The skin on the soles of your feet is also much thicker than elsewhere on the body, which means our natural oils alone are not sufficient to prevent or treat soreness.
Cracked skin on the sole of your feet can be a result of a variety of factors, and often, a combination of these factors. The most common causes are:
- Age: As we age, our skin changes, it naturally loses elasticity and produces less natural oils over time, making cracks more likely. As we get older, and because of everyday factors, such as sun damage, pollutants, weather and free radicals, our skin becomes unable to retain moisture and becomes more fragile.
- Footwear: Hard and unsupportive footwear or wearing shoes that are ill-fitting can contribute to crack heels. Your skin can dry out because of constant friction from rubbing against your shoes. Cracked heels are more likely during the summer months due to backless shoes, which typically provides inadequate support, causing the fat pad under the heel to expand sideways. Heels in open-back shoes also have continued exposure to harsh environments.
- Lack of maintenance: Not incorporating footcare into your daily skincare routine that includes cleaning and moisturising. People often neglect to wash and apply a moisturiser to their feet, including their toes and toenails, even if they clean and moisturise the rest of their body.
- Pressure: Your feet, in particular your heels carry your weight around. Being on your feet for long periods of time, this weight and pressure can cause stress on the heel for extended periods, resulting in the skin expanding sideways.
- Diet: Deficiencies and the lack of nutrition, vitamins and minerals in your diet can adversely impact your heel health.
- Water: It is important for your skin health to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. However, direct contact with water, in particular hot water, for an extended period can strip your skin of its natural moisture.
- The Environment: Exposure to pollution, harsh and extreme weather conditions such as hot, dry weather, and even cold, dry weather can affect your skin’s moisture levels.
Sometimes, damaged skin on the feet can be a result of a more serious, underlying condition such as fungal infection, atopic dermatitis, or eczema, among others. In some cases, cracked skin on the heels could indicate a potential disease such as diabetes. If you’re experiencing an underlying condition, or persistent bleeding, it’s best to seek the proper treatment from a medical professional, as opposed attempting to get rid of the cracked skin yourself.
Give your feet some extra tender, love and care (TLC)
Our feet, in particular our heels, go through a lot, taking on all the pressures of our daily life. They provide us with tremendous support and so, deserve more attention and love than they get. Regular pedicures are not cost efficient and probably won’t do the trick as they don’t provide the daily care your feet need. Incorporate footcare into your daily self-care routine and treat your feet with KOBA’s founder, Therese’s coveted tips, tricks and remedies.
Step 1: Wash & Soak
Just like most other skincare routines, your first step should always be to cleanse. Wash your feet with a gentle, hydrating soap, like our Soak Me Up soap bar. Make sure to pat dry, avoiding rubbing the skin too hard with a towel. Soak your feet in warm water for five to ten minutes to prepare your feet for exfoliation to help loosen any dead surface skin cells, you can also add mineral-rich salts such as Westlab Epsom Salts to your soak. Don’t soak them for too long, as prolonged exposure to water can weaken the skin barrier, which leads to excessive loss of moisture.
Step 2: Exfoliate
Now that your feet are clean, it’s time to exfoliate. Avoid over exfoliating, we recommend once a week. Moreover, stay away from harsh exfoliating tools such as graters or razors, as while they may provide instant relief, they can be damaging to the skin over the long run. Instead, use an exfoliating glove or a loofah combined with a gentle exfoliator to scrub, in circular motions, while in the shower. You can also exfoliate with a pumice stone once a week. If you’re ticklish on your feet, try an at-home foot mask such as the Baby Foot Original Exfoliant Foot Peel or the Patchology Posh Peel.
Step 3: Moisturise
The most important step to combating cracked skin is moisturising. For best results apply KOBA’s Bottom Up foot cream in the morning after washing and again in the evening. This ultra-comforting cream soothes and smooths for energised feet throughout the day, using a rich hydrating and comforting formula, powered by safou oil. Our unique blend of ingredients work together to penetrate and quench the skin, regenerate its barrier function, improve its elasticity and naturally slow down the ageing process of the skin. A light, non-sticky texture, enhanced by a delicate fragrance is an escape for worn-out feet. KOBA skincare offers a range of skincare products, including a hand cream, a soap bar and a lip balm to get rid of chapped lips.
Step 4: Lock in moisture
Our most coveted hack to seal in moisture is slipping into a pair of clean, cotton socks while you sleep for an at home spa treatment. Wake up to feet as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Give our cream a couple of minutes to sink in before wearing socks or shoes.
From cracked heels to supple skin
There’s no love like self-love to regain your confidence and proudly show off those toes. Your feet deserve love and attention for all their hard work. Prevention is key; caring for your feet every day will help to avoid cracked heels from developing in the first place. When it comes to skin that is already cracked, consistency is important to combat and reverse the problem. Form a regular routine that is simple and easily falls into your day so that you can be consistent. Remember to wear shoes that fit properly to support and protect your feet. Try alternating shoe style and avoid walking barefoot at home if you have dry, hard and cracked skin.