Cracked heels occur when the skin on the heel thickens creating fissures. Often referred to as fissures, it is a common problem and whenever the cracks run too deep, they can cause bleeding of the skin and in some instances, extreme pain. Fissures are linear regular cut wounds and mostly affect the epidermis though in some cases, they can run deep to the dermis. It is during such cases that they are known to cause pain. They can be as a result of excessive pressure on the pads of the heel which causes the skin to expand or due to lack omega-3 fatty acid.
Cracked heels do not pose any serious medical threat and whiled this is the case, it is advisable to address the condition as soon as noted in order to ensure it does not progress to the more extreme stages. The occurrence is common among people who are on their feet constantly and seniors. The latter is often as a result of decreased sebum and dry skin. Cracked heels can affect one heel or both.
Causes of Cracked Heels
Cracked heels can be as a result of different factors and while this is the case, the following are some of the most common ones.
- Continued exposure to water this is especially true when it comes to running water which robs the skin of the essential natural oils. This leaves the skin around the heels rough and dry. Also, standing for long hours in damp places like bathrooms can also trigger cracked heels.
- Prolonged standing on hard floors whether at home or work can also cause cracked heels.
- When the skin around the heel is thick or naturally dry and exposed to excessive activity.
- When one is overweight, the footpad is exerted to extreme pressure and this causes the skin to expand sideways. Since the skin lacks flexibility the heels crack as a result of the added pressure.
- Open sandals or shoes that allow fat on the heel pad to expand sideways thus increasing the level of pressure and causing cracked heels.
- Disorders and diseases such as thyroid disease, Eczema, Athletes foot, Psoriasis and Diabetes among other skin conditions that might trigger cracked heels.
There are other reasons that might lead to cracked heels though they are not as common and these include the following.
- Age-The skin loses its elasticity as one ages and this increases the possibility of cracked heels.
- Wearing shoes that are ill fitting, changing walking posture or standing for long hours.
- Unhygienic conditions or circumstances.
- Deficiency of zinc, vitamins and minerals.
Symptoms of Cracked Heels
There are certain symptoms which surface on your skin as an indication that there is an internal activity or external abuse that needs to be addressed. It is possible to look at the body and the manifestations it shows to note a disorder in time and thus, ensure it is effectively addressed. The following are some of the symptoms you need to be on the look out for in order to address cracked heels problems in time.
- Flaky or red patches: This is the first symptom of cracked heels and when ignore, it worsens with time. This is because dry skin is vulnerable and it opens the way to other skin infections and it is imperative to ensure that the situation is addressed immediately.
- Cracked and peeling skin: When the first symptom is not addressed in time, the skin around the heels cracks and peels off. This is a definite sign of the problem and action should be taken immediately. Do not attempt to pull the dry skin pieces off because this will only damage the skin further. In order to get rid of long pieces of dry skin, it is advisable to use small scissors to carefully and slowly clip dead skin away.
- Itchy skin: Once the upper layer of the skin dries, you will start experiencing a constant itch. This is because the skin found around and below the affected area causes itchiness and discomfort. In order to start any form of treatment for the cracked heels, you will have to get rid of the dead skin found on the upper skin layer.
- Discharge or bleeding from the cracks: This symptom is a clear indication that your cracked heels have advanced to a crucial stage. It is also an indication that the problem has progressed from the upper skin layer to the lower layers. If the cracks are deep, this is also an indication that the individual is at a higher risk of suffering from complicated fungus infection.
Cracked Heel Home Remedies
Feet care is important and yet, most people tend to ignore it and as a result, a large number end up experiencing extreme cracked heels complications. There several home remedies which come in handy in addressing cracked heels. These help by treating fungus which is the major cause of this condition. Home remedies are cost effective and efficient and while this is the case, it is important to note that at some point, you should book an appointment with a general physician in order to get professional help. This makes it possible to consult further on the causes, treatment and prevention of cracked heels. The following are some of the best home remedies for cracked heels.
Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies yourself! Here are some of the home remedies that you can try.
- Vegetable Oil-Apply hydrogenated vegetable oils or shortening on the heels. This should only be done after the feet are thoroughly washed and dried. After applying the preferred oil, wear thick socks and leave them on overnight. In a couple of days, you should be in a position to see some positive results.
- Ripe Banana– Using a ripe banana, make a thick pulp and apply it on the affected area. Leave this for ten minutes. Rinse clean and dry off. This is a simple yet effective cracked heels remedy and it can be used on a daily basis not only to treat the condition but also prevent it. To increase its effectiveness, you can add half a slice of avocado or half coconut to form a creamy thick paste. Coconuts and avocados have essential oils and soluble fat vitamins which help the skin to recover natural oils. Consequently, the paste will provide the skin with oils and vitamins that keep it well moisturized and soft avoiding cracks.
- Soak– For 10 minutes, soak the feet in some lemon juice. For this therapy to work, it should be used weekly until some changes are noted. Lemon juice is recommended because it is mildly acidic and aids in dissolving dry and dead skin. In order to get the best results, you should soak your feet in the juice and use a soft brush or loofa to exfoliate the dead top layers gently thus getting rid of cracked heels.
- Clean and Moisturize– Establish a routine where you clean and moisturize daily in order to treat cracked heels. Everyday, soak your feet in soapy water for 15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Then mix one lemon juice and one Vaseline teaspoon and rub it on the affected area until it is absorbed. This is an easy routine to follow and it can be carried out daily right before you go to bed. For the purpose of trapping body heat and speeding up the rate with which results are obtained, it is advisable to wear some thick socks after applying the mixture. The skin can be exfoliated either before or after using the mixture. It comes in handy because it softens cracked and dry heels and this makes it possible to slough the dead skin off.
- Rosewater and Glycerin– You can mix rosewater and glycerin regularly and apply it on cracked heels. This soothes and cures the condition.
- Paraffin Wax– You can also melt some paraffin wax, mix it with mustard oil and use the mixture as a remedy for cracked heels. This should be applied at night and rinsed off in the morning. When used for 10 to 15 days continuously, the results are desirable.
- Exfoliate– Your feet should be exfoliated regularly and avoid using exfoliating scrubs that are harsh. Rather, opt for gentle natural scrub made from apple cider vinegar, rice flour and honey. These should be used to make a paste and if the cracks are deep, it is recommended you add olive oil.
- Creams and Oils– There are also numerous creams in the market that promise to deliver the best heel repair results. However, it is advisable to make your own cream and this can be done by mixing drops ot lemon or lavender oil and olive oil. These should be poured in a bottle and water added. Shake the solution well and apply it on the affected area.
- Turnip– If the beauty of your feet is suddenly compromised by the appearance of cracks, turnip could be all you need to resume normalcy. Peels and chop a single piece of turnip and then boil it. Mash the turnip and apply it on the cracked heels for not less than two hours. After the two hours, wash your feet and put on a pair of socks to cover them. Continue with this treatment every day for a week and then twice every week after they start heeling.
- Vinegar and olive oil- A mixture of olive oil and vinegar is one of the most effective home remedies for cracked heels. Take a jar and mix equal proportions of olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Apply this on your feet every night and cover your feet with socks for the solution to work more effectively. Always ensure you clean your feet before applying the mixture.
- Glycerin- Being a natural moisturizer, glycerin can quicken the healing of cracked heels. Make a solution with 1 part of glycerin, 1 part of lemon juice and 2 parts of rose water and store the mixture in a jar. You can use this excellent remedy occasionally as a remedy of dry feet, even during winter.
- Banana, honey and lemon juice- You could also treat cracked heels with a home made food pack comprising of a ripe banana, a teaspoon of honey and half a teaspoon lemon juice. All you need to do to get impressive results is to smear this mixture on the cracks on your heels and cover them before you sleep.
- Feet oil massage- A simple oil massage could be all you need to do away with cracked heels. If you are suffering from the condition, massaging your feet with coconut oil, sesame oil or any hydrogenated vegetable oil before sleep could cure the condition.
Diet for Cracked Heels
Cracked heels are as a result of deficiency in minerals, vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and zinc. As such, it is important to ensure that your diet is rich in minerals, zinc and vitamins. Since omega 3 fatty acid is not produced naturally by the body, it is important to ingest it in the form of supplements or from foods. The following are essential foods.
- Vitamins rich foods such as green vegetables, wheat germ, nuts and whole grain products.
- Minerals rich foods which include calcium, iron, foods rich in zinc and omega 3 fatty acids.
Prevention of Cracked Heels
You can prevent cracked feet by simply following through with the following.
- Keep the feet well moisturized by using lotion after a shower and before wearing socks or shoes.
- You have to exercise responsibility when buying shoes and invest in a well fitting pair. Also, do not wear open back shoes often.
- Scrub any buildup of callus on the heels every week. In this case, soak the feet in warm water and scrub the skin using pumice stone.
- If your walking style is the problem, invest in corrective shoes.
- Eat a proper diet in order to ensure that the skin does not dry off.
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