The soles of our feet are the souls of our being - pun intended. After all, they withstand our weight and enable us to walk and move around. Yet, these amazing little body parts tend to be considerably neglected in our skincare regimes. The result is not just an unhygienic look but also pain and discomfort. Cracked heels are a common issue many people can suffer from, which finally makes them pay attention to their poor feet. But don’t worry, our feet ask for nothing more than just a little care and attention. This blog will give you a brief introduction to the causes of cracked heels and how to prevent them.
What Are Cracked Heels?
Cracked heels refer to a common skin condition that occurs on one’s heels due to excessively dry skin. It is also referred to as heel fissures. They are often accompanied by thicker skin and yellow or brown calluses along the heel's edge. Cracked heels not only tend to be a concern due to their shabby appearance but because they cause discomfort and pain. In severe cases, the cracked skin in your heels can get infected resulting in worse conditions. It may start bleeding or have an accumulation of pus.
The Causes of Cracked Heels
Noticing thick, dry, peeling skin on your heels can be the first signs of heel fissures. When you go about your day walking or standing up, the fat pad under your heel is pressured. Extra strain on the fat pad of your heels might develop cracks or heel fissures in the dry, thick skin.
Several everyday factors can cause the cracking of your heels. These include:
- Walking barefoot or wearing open footwear, which may lead to dryness and dirt accumulated on the heel
- Taking prolonged hot baths can damage the skin on the heel.
- Using harsh soaps on your feet
- Cold weather conditions or low humidity
- Standing for long periods puts pressure on the feet soles
- Poor footwear choices that may lead to shoe bites
- Not moisturizing your feet enough
Apart from these factors, several health conditions can also be the cause of cracked heels. These health conditions include:
- Athlete’s Foot, which refers to a fungal infection caused by sweaty feet
- Obesity, which might put extra pressure on the heels
- Diabetes, which causes poor blood circulation and high blood pressure. This can lead to dry skin.
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Hypothyroidism, which causes hormonal imbalances leading to dryness
- Eczema, psoriasis, palmoplantar keratoderma, heel spurs, and many other skin conditions can also be the cause behind cracked heels.
How to Prevent Cracked Heels
Cracked heels are common and happen to many people. They don’t usually end up being severe. However, for health and hygiene reasons, it would be wise to know preventive measures to avoid them. This could help you in maintaining beautiful and healthy feet.
Check Up on Your Feet
Many of us have the habit of neglecting our feet. It is only when blisters or cracks and dirt start to cause discomfort that we look back at them. It is therefore essential to consciously check your foot soles for dryness, dirt, blisters, and so on. Treating little problems right when they start to show can help you nip cracked heels in the bud.
Keep Your Toenails Cut and Feet Clean
Trim your toenails before they get thick and accumulate a lot of dirt. Often cracked skin occurs around and below the toenails. Infections and dirt can put crack-prone heels in a worse position. Make it a habit to soak your feet in lukewarm water and exfoliate the extra dry or thick skin. This can soften the first symptoms of cracked heels and help you maintain soft and beautiful feet.
Our foot soles do not produce sebum or grow hair. This makes them more prone to be dry. This is why it is essential to moisturize your feet, especially in winters. If the weather is particularly cold, moisturize your feet at least twice a day and wear socks. If it’s summer and your feet get too sweaty, make sure to keep them clean.
Always drink enough water to avoid dry skin. Water can help you not just prevent cracked heels but also have radiant and glowing skin all over your body.
Wear Heel-Supportive Footwear
If cracked heels are a regular problem for you, it may be time to invest in good footwear. Wear shoes or sandals that cover vulnerable areas in your foot soles. Additionally, avoid wearing too tight or too loose footwear, since they can both make your feet’ skin vulnerable.
Tips and Remedies to Treat Cracked Heels
Life can get busy and sometimes we forget to groom all parts of ourselves. This is precisely why cracked heels are such a common problem. Please note that if you suspect that your cracked heels are being caused by a medical condition, you must consult a medical professional.
However, in most cases, if you are worried about your cracked heels, we have good news for you. Most conditions of heel fissures can be easily remedied and treated at home. All you have to do is be more patient and careful. Here are some easy remedies for cracked heels:
There are various creams available in the market targeted to treat cracked heels. These creams or lotions have ingredients that are intended to exfoliate dead skin on your heels and moisturize them. Regular use (twice a day after washing feet) of these creams can be effective in gradual treatment. Look for products with urea, salicylic acid, AHAs, natural oils, or mineral oils. Emollients can be particularly effective in healing cracked heels caused by dry skin.
Soak Your Feet in Warm Water
A common pedicure technique used to take care of one’s feet is soaking and washing. This is equally effective in cases where your heels are cracked without infection. Follow these steps for an effective foot soak:
- Mix some soap or shampoo in a bucket of lukewarm water.
- Get comfortable with towels and loofas around you before soaking your feet in this water for 15-20 minutes.
- After a thorough soaking, scrub your feet softly with a loofah, towel, or foot scrubber. Make sure to get rid of dead skin. You will likely discover soft skin underneath.
- Don’t be too harsh on cracked areas because you might hurt yourself and your cracked heels might start blaming.
- After properly drying your feet with a towel, rub foot lotion all over your soles. Let the lotion or cream soak into your feet before exposing them to dirt or footwear.
- Make sure you moisturize enough after a foot soak. Though exfoliating, hot water and harsh soaps can cause dryness. It is important to balance out their effects after.
Coconut oil is a blessing for both skincare and haircare because of its essential and enriching properties. It is high in Vitamin E, natural proteins, and lauric acid - which can help repair damaged skin cells. Because it is an oil, it acts as a barrier on your skin that stops moisture from escaping your skin. It is recommended that you use coconut oil on your feet at night for best results since the grease could be inconvenient to work with during the daytime.
Honey is a natural humectant and a skincare favourite. An overnight honey foot mask can be a dream cure for your cracked heels. It attracts water to the surface of the skin and thus keeps it hydrated. Always wash your feet with warm water after using honey, and follow with a good moisturizer. Petroleum jelly or coconut oil is recommended. These can help the hydrating effect of honey in lasting longer.