Cracked Heels – How to Fix Them?
Cracked heels are one of the most common foot problems. According to a recent survey, 20% people in the US suffer cracked heels, and women are more susceptible to this condition than men.
While cracked heels themselves are not serious in general, they do look ugly on your feet, which may put you to embarrassment. Cracked heels can also cause minor discomfort whether you wear shoes or (especially) go barefoot. But there are some cases where cracked heels can cause extreme pain, and may be symptoms of an underlying medical condition. Cracked heels may also put your feet to a higher risk of fungal infections especially if they are accompanied by wounds and/or bleeding.
What causes cracked heels?
The skin on your heels tends to lose its softness, suppleness and elasticity. It begins to get dry and becomes thick, forming a “split” pattern which can occur even in the lightest and gentlest of pressures. The skin also becomes flaky. If left untreated, cracked heels may become inflamed and itchy. Worse, cracked heels may cause bleeding.
There are various factors that can cause cracked heels, such as:
1. Lack of moisture
This is the most widely known cause of cracked heels. As it loses moisture and elasticity, the skin on your heels tends to go dry and chapped.
2. Walking barefoot or wearing inappropriate footwear
Walking barefoot or walking with ill-fitting footwear offers only very little protection to your feet. This can lead to heel pain, and a sore heel is more prone to dryness, thickening and cracking of its skin.
Some people are more prone to cracked heels because of genetic predisposition. If your parents or ancestors have suffered cracked heels, it is likely that you will have them, too.
4. Prolonged periods of standing
Cracked heels can also be caused by standing for extended periods of time. This can put undue pressure to your heels, which in turn may result to dryness and cracking.
Our feet bear the weight of our body. The more you put on body weight, the more unnecessary pressure it creates to your heels and this may cause them to become dry and chapped.
6. Lack of hygiene
Failure to keep your feet clean regularly will put you at risk to fungal infections such as athlete’s foot or tinea, which can can cause unsightly cracked heels.
As people age, their skin loses its natural moisture and elasticity. The likelihood of having dry and cracked heels becomes higher as people grow older.
8. Underlying condition
Sometimes, cracked heels can be a symptom of an underlying disease or other medical condition such as diabetes, dermatitis, psoriasis, thyroid problems or nutritional deficiency.
You can prevent cracked heels from happening by considering the following tips:
1. Make sure that your heels and your entire feet are moisturized regularly.
2. Avoid wearing inappropriate footwear such as sandals or shoes with an open back.
3. Avoid wearing ill-fitting footwear.
4. Keep your feet clean regularly.
5. Inspect your feet regularly for any signs of cracked feet, particularly if you have diabetes or any other condition that causes cracked heels, or if you are aware that some of your family members have cracked heels too.
6. Wear shoe inserts on your heels.
7. Avoid standing for long periods.
8. Eat a balanced diet and take supplements.
9. Exercise regularly.
10. Drink plenty of water and fluids every day to stay hydrated.
11. While taking a bath of showering, use a pumice stone and scrub it gently against your heels. This will prevent your skin to become thick and hard. But if you suffer diabetes or any other condition, do not try to remove calluses as it can create open wounds or bleeding and therefore can put you at a higher risk of infection.
How to treat cracked heels
If you do have cracked heels, you may consider any of these tips to treat them:
1. Moisturize your heels and entire feet regularly. A good moisturizing lotion or cream will do. Apply them during the day and especially before bedtime.
GREAT TIP: After you apply lotion or cream to your heels, slip on a pair of socks especially before going to bed. Socks will help in “locking in” moisture overnight and will also keep any dirt or dust from sticking to the lotion or cream that you have applied on your feet. There are also moisturizing socks that you can slip on before bedtime.
2. If your heels are particularly flaky, first soak your feet in warm water and leave them long enough so that the flaky skin will become softer and thus easier to remove. Then gently remove the peeling skin by using a foot file.
3. If your cracked heels have begun to show some open wounds and/or signs of bleeding, clean your feet and then apply them with an antiseptic solution to prevent infection.
4. If the aforementioned treatments do not work, see a podiatrist. He or she will treat your feet with proper medications and then provide you with sound advice on how to deal with this condition accordingly. If you are having a medical condition that causes cracked heels, your podiatrist will administer special treatments to it.
Products that will help you deal with cracked heels
1. Foot file
Run by electricity, this foot file is tough on removing hardened, flaky and scaly skin but is also absolutely gentle on your feet.
This is quick and easy to use – those nasty cracks and flaky skin on your heels will be gone in just a matter of minutes, and your heels will become soft and smooth again. You can use this portable foot file any time, anywhere, when you need it!
You can also apply liquid bandages to your cracked heels. These special bandages prevent your heels from friction and further cracking, help in retaining moisture and prevent the likelihood of wounds, blistering or bleeding. But these liquid bandages are so thin and almost invisible that you won’t feel they’re on your feet!
These are no ordinary socks! This pair of socks is equipped with gel-filled inner lining which gradually releases essential oils, vitamins and aloe vera which work together as deep-moisturizing agents to your feet. Result is well-hydrated, soft and supple skin on your feet and heels. They are available in various sizes for men and women, and the good news is that these socks are hypoallergenic! Say goodbye to dry, cracked feet with these moisturizing socks!
This foot exfoliation scrub is made from all-natural ingredients such as powedered walnut shells, powdered loofah and plant glycerin that work together for a deep exfoliating action. This product will scrub off dead skin cells and restore your skin’s natural oils that nourish and soften your feet and heels. Perfect for all skin types.
Constantly bothered by cracked, split heels? Calluses? Dead skin cells? This foot exfoliation mask is incredibly easy to use. One of the best things about this foot exfoliation mask is that it effectively treats dry and cracked skin yet it is absolutely pain-free when you peel it off from your feet. Made with 17 botanical extracts, this mask ensures that your feet get the best treatment and care. Plus, it smells so nice too, so you’d love to use this foot exfoliation mask over again!
Balms are some of the most common treatments for cracked heels, and we might as well recommend one of the best foot and heel balms in the market, the Flexitol Heel Balm. This thick foot cream is excellent in exfoliating and moisturizing your dry, itchy, scaly, flaky and calloused feet and heels. It leaves your feet smooth and soft without the greasy and chemical-like feel. Little wonder, as this balm is made with some of the finest natural ingredients which include aloe vera, vitamin E, shea butter and tea tree oil. It is paraben-free and is also ideal for people who suffer gluten sensitivity.