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If you are all ready to show off your perfect summer outfit except for one detail, the cracks in your heels, don't reach for tennis shoes quite yet. Cracked heels can easily capture the attention that should be going to your beautiful summer sandals.

1. Fill a basin with warm water into which you have mixed a few drops of body wash

This is an easy step, but there are actually several ways you can go wrong. If you place your feet in hot water, rather than warm, not only is there a danger of burning your feet, the hot water will also make your heels peel and flake even more. And it's also important to avoid any kind of scented soap. The perfumes and essential oils that give soap a scent also dry out the skin.

2. Soak your feet for just five minutes

Your don't want the skin on your feet to wrinkle up like a prune. That invites cuts, scrapes, scratches, and infections. What you want to do is to soft dead skin on your heels.

3. Pat your feet dry and remove dead skin with a pumice stone

Don't rub so hard that you turn your skin red. A gentle pat with the towel is enough. Rub the pumice stone gently with the striations at the back of your heel, not against them. The idea is to remove dead skin, not live skin.

4. Slather on moisturizer

Even petroleum jelly will work. What you need to avoid is anything that irritates the skin. Exfoliant ingredients (glycolic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids, fruit acids, lactic acid, and the like) not only are not necessary, they can even make the underlying problem worse.

5. Trap the moisturizer on affected skin

For this step, you will need to wear socks. Choose a sock made from a fabric that breathes, so you do not encourage the growth of fungus on the rest of your foot. Cotton is better than nylon or rayon. Wool is scratchy and may be ruined by the moisturizer.

You may see dramatic improvement in the cracks in your heels in as little as one day. To keep them from coming back, however, you may need to repeat this treatment throughout the summer to keep your heels soft and attractive.

The people who have the most trouble with cracked heels usually have dry, sensitive skin. Anything you do that improves your skin health in general also improves cracked heels. Also, anything that dries out your skin will make cracked heels worse. Surprising problems can occur after taking an airline flight, arriving at a desert or beach destination, or working out without drinking water. Planning ahead to keep skin moisturized can keep cracked heels from cropping up at just the wrong moment.