Everyone would have dealt with the unsightly issue of cracked heels at least once in their life time.
Other than not being very appealing to the eye, cracked heels can also get so extreme that they can actually cause discomfort. Let us see what we can do to help find relief from cracked heels.
Cracked heels are a sign of lack of attention to foot care rather than just overexposure or lack of moisturizing. Medically, cracked heels are also known as heel fissures. Fissures are regular linear cut wounds at the surface level. Sometimes it may get deep into the dermis and become painful.
Dry skin or xerosis is one of the most common causes that lead to cracked heels .The other key reason being thick or callus skin around the rim of the heel. Cracked heels are a common occurrence for senior citizens or people who are constantly on their feet thus exerting pressure on the feet pad.
- Red or Flaky Patches: This is often one of the first symptoms of dry cracked heels and if it is ignored, the condition may worsen in time. Dry skin is also vulnerable to dry skin infections and so it is important to treat the condition right away.
- Peeling and Cracked Skin: Peeling and cracked skin is a definite sign of dry cracked heels and immediate measures must be taken to remedy the condition.
- Itchy Skin: Itchy skin is caused by the abnormal shrinking of the upper layers of dry skin. This excessive shrinking causes the stretching of the skin below and around the affected areas and this results in general discomfort and itchiness.
- Bleeding or Discharge from Cracks: Bleeding or discharge from cracks in your heels is a very serious problem as it indicates that the cracks not only affect the upper layers of the skin but also the lower layers of tissue. Deep cracks in the heels will also increase an individual’s risk of suffering from a skin infection in this area. Wearing closed shoes without socks while you have dry and cracked heels will only serve to further increase one’s risk of suffering from a dry and cracked heels.
Most Common Causes that Lead to Cracked Heels
- Naturally dry skin or thick dry skin (callus) around the heel that is more likely to crack is often due to excessive feet activity.
- Prolonged standing at work or home .Hard floors may also cause cracks in the feet.
- Being overweight may increase the pressure on the normal fat pad under the heel, causing it to expand sideways and if the skin lacks flexibility the pressure on the feet lead to cracked heels.
- Back-open sandals or shoes allow the fat under the heel to expand sideways and increases the possibility of cracks on the heels.
- Disorders like athlete’s foot, psoriasis, eczema, thyroid disease, diabetes and some other skin conditions may also cause cracked heels.
- Continuous exposure to water. Water, especially running water, can rob the skin of its natural oils and this can leave the skin dry and rough. Standing for prolonged periods in a damp area such as a bathroom can cause dry and cracked heels.
- Deficiency of vitamins, minerals and zinc.
Remedies for Cracked Heels
- Apply any shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oil after washing the feet clean on dry and cracked areas of the feet. After applying a thick coat of shortening on the feet, wear a pair of thick socks. Leaving this application overnight can surely provide positive results in few days.
- Apply the pulp of a ripe banana on the dry or cracked area of the heel. Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse it clean. This is a simple dry cracked heels home remedy and it can be used on a daily basis to prevent and treat dry and cracked heels. You can also add half an avocado or the flesh of half a coconut to a blender along with the banana to form a thick and creamy paste.
- Soak the feet in lemon juice for about 10minutes. Follow this therapy on a weekly basis until one finds a change. Lemon juice is a very mild natural acid and helps to dissolve dead and dry skin so that it can be easily removed.
- A daily regime of cleaning and moisturizing is a good cure for dry or cracked heels. At the end of the day soak the feet in warm soapy water for about 15 minutes. Rinse feet and pat dry. Make a healing mixture comprising of one teaspoon Vaseline and the juice of one lemon. Rub this mixture onto the cracked heels and other required areas of the feet till it is thoroughly absorbed.
- A regular application of a mixture of glycerin and rosewater is known to soothe and cure cracked heels.
- Massage your heels with sesame oil before going to bed. This is supposedly the best remedy for cracked heels.
- Take 1/4th bucket of water and squeeze one lemon in it, soak your feet in this and wash it with pumice stone and soap. Do this twice a week.
- Massage your feet with coconut oil every night. With the dawn, scrub and rinse off.
- Mix turmeric, tulsi and camphor in equal parts along with aloe vera gel and apply the paste on the heels. Just plain aloe vera gel is great for cracked heels.
- Mix sugar with some oil, (olive, coconut, jojoba oil, just any oil) and scrub your feet with it. It is the sweetest cure for cracked heels.
- Honey is great to moisturize your feet and has great antibacterial properties. Mix one cup of honey to half a bucket of warm water. Soak your feet for about 15-20 minutes. Scrub off gently for soft and supple feet.
Here is a list of essential foods that one can include in a regular meal and help curb deficiencies that may cause cracked heels.
- Vitamins (vitamin E) rich foods include vegetable oils, green vegetables, cereals, wheat germ, whole-grain products and nuts.
- Calcium: Milk, cheese, yogurt, goat’s milk, fortified soya milk, mineral water, ice cream, tinned fish, juices, cereals and broccoli are excellent sources of calcium. Dairy products such as milk and yogurt are also considered as one of the best sources of calcium.
- Iron: Meat, chicken and fish are good sources of iron. Iron is also available in cereals, eggs, vegetables and beans; however it is not as easily absorbed into the body as the iron from meat, chicken and fish.
- Zinc rich foods Include oysters, chicken, crab, kidney beans, yogurt, brown rice, spaghetti.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are largely found in purslane herb, cold water fish, and flaxseed oil or flax seeds.
More Tips to Avoid Cracked Heels
- Wear the exact size of footwear. No thin soles and backed shoes please.
- Moisturize your feet, specifically the heels.
- Keep your feet clean. Scrub and exfoliate them regularly.
- Omega 3 and zinc deficiencies cause cracked heels, so make sure you don’t have these deficiencies.
- Wash your feet every time you come home.
- Use good creams and products for your feet too.
- Keep your skin hydrated. Drink lots of water.
- Wash your feet carefully, every time you come from outside.
- Once you have cleaned your feet, apply a foot cream or petroleum jelly.
- Once you are done applying the cream, wear cotton socks while you sleep, so that the skin absorbs the moisture and the cracks of the heels heal faster.
- Try walking on the grass barefoot early every morning. This exercise rejuvenates the feet and improves the eyesight.
- A healthy feet is the sign of a healthy personality. Keep your feet smiling and healthy.