With the arrival of the heat, most of us begin to show off our feet in flip flops or sandals. This exposes the state of our fingers, nails and soles of the feet. Although the most catastrophic thing is to reveal cracked heels.
Although it can be a headache for many, it is interesting to know the origin of cracked heels to minimize damage.
The first sign of cracked heels is areas of dry, thickened skin, known as calluses, around the edge of the heel. As we walk, the fat pad under the heel expands. This causes the corns to crack.
Other factors that can cause cracked heels can be:
- Standing for long hours
- Walking barefoot or with open sandals
- Take long, hot showers
- Using harsh soaps that can strip the skin of natural oils
- Shoes that don’t fit properly or don’t support the heels
- Dry skin due to weather, such as cold temperatures or low humidity
- If we don’t moisturize our feet regularly, they may dry out even faster.
High blood sugar and poor circulation as a result of diabetes are common causes of dry skin. Nerve damage can prevent us from knowing that our feet are dry, cracked and sore.
Other conditions that can cause dry skin and cracked heels include:
- vitamin deficiency
- fungal infection
- Atopic dermatitis
- palmoplantar keratoderma
There are several homemade and natural solutions to improve the appearance of cracked heels in summer.
Heel balms or thick moisturizers
The first treatment option for cracked heels is to use a heel balm. These balms contain ingredients to moisturize, soften and exfoliate dead skin. It is recommended to find products with urea, salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids or saccharide isomerate.
It is advisable to apply the balm to the heel in the morning to increase the elasticity of the skin before starting the day. And, if possible, moisturize the heel two to three times a day. Some heel balms may cause minor stinging or irritation. This is normal. We will consult a doctor if the cream continues to bother or causes serious reactions. Severe cases of cracked heels may require a prescription balm or steroid cream to help reduce inflammation and relieve itching.
Soak and exfoliate feet
The skin around cracked heels is usually thicker and drier than the rest of the skin. This skin tends to split when we apply pressure. Soaking and moisturizing your feet can help with this. To make a foot bath we can follow these steps:
- Keep feet in warm soapy water for up to 20 minutes.
- Use a pumice stone to remove thick, hard skin.
- Gently dry the feet.
- Apply a thick heel balm or moisturizer to the affected area.
- Apply Vaseline on the feet to retain moisture. We can put on socks to avoid spreading grease and staining clothes.
- We will avoid rubbing the feet when they are dry. This increases the risk of damaged skin.
We can also apply a liquid bandage on the cracks to seal the wound and prevent infection or more cracks. This product comes in a spray form, which means we can go about our day without worrying about the bandage coming off. Liquid bandage is a good option for treating deep cracks in the heel that may bleed.
We will apply a liquid bandage on clean and dry skin. As the crack heals, the lining is forced to the surface of the skin. We can buy this product without a prescription in a pharmacy or online.
Honey can work as a natural remedy for cracked heels. According to a study, honey has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Research shows that honey can help heal and clean wounds and moisturize the skin. We can use honey as a foot scrub after a soak, or apply it as a foot mask overnight.
Coconut oil is sometimes recommended for dry skin, eczema, and psoriasis. It can help the skin retain moisture. Using coconut oil after soaking your feet could also be a good option.
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of coconut oil can cause cracked heels if they are prone to bleeding or infection.
Other natural remedies
There are many other home remedies for cracked heels, although none have been proven to treat cracked heels specifically. Most of the ingredients focus on moisturizing and softening the skin.
Among them are:
- Vinegar, for a foot soak
- Olive or vegetable oil, to moisturize
- Shea butter, to moisturize
- Banana puree, to hydrate
- Paraffin wax, to seal in moisture
- Oatmeal mixed with oil, for exfoliation
Can it be prevented?
Without a doubt, the most important thing is hydration and footwear. If we are prone to cracked heels, we will try to find shoes that fit well and support the heels. Whenever possible, we will wear shoes with wide, sturdy heels that support and cushion the heels.
It is advised to avoid:
- Flip-flops and sandals, which can increase the risk of dry feet.
- Open-toe shoes, which usually don’t provide enough heel support
- Shoes with high, thin heels, which can cause the heel to expand sideways
- shoes too tight
Other ways to prevent cracked heels:
- Avoid standing in one position or sitting cross-legged for a long time.
- Apply a thick foot cream at night, then cover your feet with socks to lock in moisture.
- Inspect your feet daily, especially if you have diabetes or another condition that causes dry skin.
- Wear good quality clothing or padded socks.
- Use silicone heel cups to keep the heel hydrated and help prevent the heel pad from expanding.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Use a pumice stone after showering a few times a week to help prevent skin thickening. But we will avoid removing calluses if we have diabetes or neuropathy. Without realizing it, we can create a wound and increase the risk of infection.