Q14: What can I do if I develop “cracks” in my soles?
Superficial cracks or fissures in the soles, particularly around the outer edges of the heels, seem to be fairly common for people who go barefoot on a regular basis, and it’s been observed in barefooters all over the globe, including people of remote indigenous tribes who have never worn shoes in their lives. Perhaps this is just a natural process of skin being sloughed off as newer tougher skin grows and replenishes itself underneath in order to accommodate rough surfaces; and may even serve a real useful purpose – additional padding and protection of the skin and tissues underneath. For most people, it’s not a real problem, unless they are concerned with the aesthetics or appearance of it.
Problems do arise, however, sometimes if the cracks start getting so deep that they become painful or even potentially bleed. It has been observed that certain weather conditions and/or surface conditions seem to cause more or deeper cracks, generally around the heels, e.g., spending a lot of time walking in very dry, dusty soil, or any conditions that would tend to dry out skin.
Experienced barefooters have learned to deal with heel cracks in various ways, such as applications of moisturizers or lubricants, including Vaseline, and sometimes the use of pumice stones in extreme cases. However, the most popular and seemingly effective method to alleviate and control cracks seems to be the use of specialized lotions either regularly or on an as needed basis. The one usually recommended most is a product called Flexitol Heel Balm, which is formulated specifically for heel cracks. Another product that’s also highly recommended is called Bag Balm, which was originally meant to use on the udders of cows to keep them supple and ward off infection, but works very well on dry or cracking human feet. Both products are available at most pharmacies or other places that sell skin care products.