Tips on how to fix dry cracked heels quickly at home
BY JACK HOLMES September 8 2017
Many of us find ourselves on our feet throughout the day, which is why preserving good foot health is important. Cracked heels which are also known as heel fissures are a common foot problem, that is faced by many of us especially during the warm weather months when we enjoy wearing sandals and flip flops. This can occur in both adults and children and seems to affect women more often than men. If you’ve got cracked heels, you may notice dry and flaking skin and deep cracks in the skin. As cracked skin rubs against footwear, even walking can become uncomfortable. Though it may be a nuisance for most people, if the cracks are deep, they can be painful and in severe cases can become infected. So it’s important to know how to deal with dry, cracked heels quickly and effectively. If the problem persists, if you have open cuts on your feet or if you are diabetic see your physician.
First let’s take a look on what causes cracked heels
- Not moisturizing your feet regularly – If you don’t moisturize your feet regularly, they may dry out even faster.
- Taking overly long, hot baths or showers
- Using harsh, drying soaps – Using harsh soaps that can strip your skin of natural oils.
- Harsh weather conditions – Dry skin due to climate, such as cold temperatures or low humidity.
- Wearing shoes with thin soles or open backs
- Wearing high heels, which do not fit properly – Shoes that don’t fit properly or support your heels.
- standing for long hours
- walking around barefoot, or with open-back sandals
Medical causes may include:
- vitamin deficiency
- fungal infection
- atopic dermatitis
- juvenile plantar dermatosis
- palmoplantar keratoderma, causes abnormal skin thickening on the soles and palms
The common causes for dry skin are high blood sugar and poor circulation resulting from diabetes. Nerve damage may also prevent you from knowing that your feet are dry, cracked, and painful.
In addition to having cracked heels, there are other symptoms that can accompany cracked heels? They are:
- flaky skin
- pain, possibly severe
- red, inflamed skin
In severe cases, you may even develop complications with a cracked heel, especially if it’s caused by a medical condition. Complications can include:
- a loss of feeling in your heel
- cellulitis, an infection
- diabetic foot ulcer
Symptoms of infection include pain, warmth, redness, and swelling. Call your doctor right away if you think you have an infection.
Now let’s see how to treat cracked heels
1. Use moisturizers such as Heel balms, creams and etc.
The first line of treatment for cracked heels is using a heel balm or rich, heavy moisturizing creams or even oils to rub into your dry feet. It’s preferable to pick moisturizers that are greasy, it’s good for those dry, cracked heels. These thick moisturizers contain ingredients to moisturize, soften, and exfoliate dead skin. These moisturizers can be found over the counter at a drugstore or online.
- Apply the balm or cream or gel in the morning to increase skin elasticity before you start your day. Apply after a bath or shower, when the skin is soft for the best absorption.
- For better results moisturize your heel two to three times a day.
Some heel balms may cause minor stinging or irritation. You don’t need to worry about it, it’s normal but if it continues to bother you or causes severe reactions consult your doctor. Severe cases of cracked heels may require a prescription-strength balm or steroid cream to help reduce inflammation and relieve itching.
After applying moisturizers, if your heels are still cracked and painful, and the condition doesn’t improve visit a podiatrist to treat the problem. If your heel fissures are severe enough they’ll make suggestions and help you through it. A podiatrist can treat any infection that is associated with your condition and also offers solutions to help your skin heal properly.
Always remember to consult a dermatologist for advice and causes of your skin conditions.
2. Soak and exfoliate your feet
It’s important to keep cracked heels clean and dry. The skin around your cracked heels is often thicker and drier than the rest of your skin. And it tends to split when pressure is applied. Soaking and moisturizing your feet can help you with this. You can make your own foot soak such as Salt Water Soak, Apple Cider Vinegar Soak, Baking Soda and Lemon Soak and more at the comfort at your home.
When it comes to moisturizing. If you are using soap to moisture your feet you must know that using harsh soaps that are heavily fragranced or contain strong chemicals can keep drying out those feet more. Use a gentle, fragrance-free or unscented, non-irritating, mild cleanser that won’t strip more moisture out of your feet.
Avoid scrubbing when they are dry. Although gently using a foot file to remove hard skin on the heel can sometimes be beneficial, scrubbing your feet when they’re dry increases your risk for damaged skin. And vigorous scrubbing may even dry the feet out more. Restore moisture to the heels after removing the hard skin by applying a moisturizer.
3. Use liquid bandage to cracks to seal the wound and prevent infections or further cracking.
4. You can also use natural remedies such as honey, coconut oil, vinegar, olive or vegetable oil, to moisturize, shea butter to moisturize, mashed bananas to moisturize, paraffin wax to seal in moisture, oatmeal mixed with oil for exfoliation.
Ways to prevent cracked heels
1. To prevent painful, cracked heels, eliminate the risk factors by drinking plenty of water and avoiding excessively hot showers.
It is essential to drink plenty of water. When you don’t drink enough water, it does not only make your mouth and throat feel dry and crackly, the same goes for your Skin too. Drink lots of water to help your skin to be rehydrated as you heal those cracked heels.
Instead of taking a toasty-hot bath or shower, keep the water a little cooler. Very hot water will dry out your skin. If you can, try not to bathe every day and certainly not more than once a day. Water inside the body hydrates your body, but the water outside the body doesn’t act the same way as it does inside your body. It washes away oils and sucks the moisture out. So when you do bathe, keep it short. The more time you spend in the tub, the more moisture you’re losing in your feet.
2. Your footwear matters. wear shoes that can protect your heel. If you’re vulnerable to cracked heels, try to find shoes that fit you properly and support your heels. Whenever it is possible, try to wear shoes with a sturdy, wide heel that supports and cushions your heels.
Things you should avoid:
- Avoid flip-flops and sandals that can increase the risk of your feet drying out.
- Avoid open-back shoes that generally don’t provide enough heel support.
- Avoid shoes with a tall, skinny heel, which can cause your heel to expand sideways.
- And avoid shoes that are too tight.
Other ways to prevent cracked heels:
- Avoid standing in one position or sitting with your legs crossed for too long.
- At night before you sleep slather on thick foot cream and then cover your feet with socks to lock in moisture.
- Don’t forget to inspect your feet daily, especially if you have diabetes or another condition that causes dry skin.
- Wear custom shoe inserts, also known as foot orthosis to cushion your heel and even out weight distribution.
- Wear good quality or clinically-tested padded socks.
- Use silicone heel cups to keep the heel moisturized and to help prevent the heel pad from expanding.
- After showering use a pumice stone a few times a week to help prevent thickening skin. But if you have diabetes or neuropathy avoid removing the calluses yourself. You may accidentally create a wound and increase your risk of infection.