With summer just around the corner, we can already picture ourselves walking around barefoot and feel the grass or sand against the sole of our feet. This is, after all, one of life’s greatest and simplest pleasures. A little pleasure that can easily be ruined by cracked heels.
Cracked heels are not only embarrassing for some, but may also be very painful. The problem usually begins unnoticed and can gradually worsen if timely and proper care and attention is not given. So why not pamper yourself a little and take care of those two feet of yours?
So, what are cracked feet? Medically also known as heel fissures, and generally caused by dry skin (xerosis), the condition leads to thickening and later splitting of skin around the heel. In most cases, cracked heels are considered to cause more of cosmetic awkwardness than any real medical concern. However, if left untreated, the fissures can become deeper, causing callouses that begin to pain when pressure is applied.
Why are my heels cracking?
You are likely to be more prone to cracked heels if you like moving around barefoot, especially in non-carpeted areas of your home. Long hours of standing and dry skin can also cause cracked heels due to increased pressure of the heel, causing skin to expand and break. Improper footwear that does not hold the fatty pad of the heel in place can also be the cause.
How can I prevent it?
As the saying goes; “Prevention is always better than a cure”. Moisturize the skin on your feet regularly, especially in dry weather and wash your feet regularly (use exfoliating scrubs to get the dirt off them). If you notice hardening of the feet, take preventive measures by soaking your feet in warm water to soften them and then use a hydrating cream. And lastly you can ensure that your diet has the required vitamins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids, essential for healthy skin.
How can I treat it?
Soak, scrub and moisturize
One of the best ways to heal cracked skin is to soak and suitably exfoliate your feet. We must remember that the skin around our heels tends to become drier and is more prone to develop callouses.
- Soak feet in a large tub of warm water for about 10 to 15 minutes. You may add a mild antiseptic or disinfectant solution to the water.
- Use a pumice stone or a scrub of your choice to remove dead skin.
- Apply Vaseline or a good moisturizer around the heel and all over on the foot.
Use foot socks with healing oils
This is best done before you go to sleep. Apply olive, almond or coconut oil to the heels of your feet and cover with a pair of protective cotton socks.
Home remedies for cracked feet
Some of the more common home remedies for cracked heels using easily available ingredients are:
- Lemon: Lemon can naturally help remove dead skin and prevent heels from cracking. To use lemon to soften and treat feet, you can add lemon juice to warm water and soak your feet in the solution for about 10 minutes. Pat, dry and apply moisturizer.
- Bananas: Mashed, overripe bananas are great for soothing and treating cracked heels. Make a paste of soft overripe banana and apply on the affected heel for at least 20 minutes.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera has immense healing properties and regular application can help reverse the damage to skin on our heels. Use Aloe Vera on its own, or combine with turmeric or basil leaves to make a paste. Leave on for 15 to twenty minutes and then rinse off.
Ayurvedic medicated oils
Ayurvedic treatment recommends the use of medicated oils to repair and treat cracked heels. Some of the common herbs and ingredients used in this ancient system of medicine include leaves, turmeric, sandalwood and Aloe Vera. Practitioners of Ayurveda also recommend having a diet suitable to restore the balance within the body.
To sum up, a little bit of time and attention can go a long way in maintaining clean and clear heels and feet, which can do wonders for your overall health and confidence.
By: Lilly Derrah, founder of ShoesTracker, a health blog dedicated to provide honest foot health advice and information.