The Fix for Cracked Heels
The Fix for Cracked Heels
With patience and the right plan, you can heal your cracked heels at home quite successfully.
Read on to see the care routine I use and recommend.
Cracked heels are a common problem that may develop into painful fissures or openings if left untreated. You may see dehydrated feet as a minor nuisance; however it can lead to further problems such as fungal infections and ulcerations.
What’s Causing Your Cracked Heels?
While one of the main causes of dry, cracking skin is the arid winter air, other factors can impact heels. Common problems that contribute to heel fissures include but are not limited to:
- Psoriasis or other skin-related conditions
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid disease
- Vitamin deficiency
Skin loses its ability to stretch with age, so cracks are more common as you get older. Diabetes can interrupt the body’s ability to produce oils, making the skin less supple and more susceptible to extreme dryness.
Disease and disorders such as athlete’s foot, psoriasis, eczema, and thyroid disease may cause cracked heels.
Excess weight can create extra pressure on the feet.
Prolonged standing in ill-fitting shoes can become a problem due to added pressure. Poorly structured feet can sometimes lead to abnormal gait that produces calluses to the heel.
Water, especially running water, can rob the skin of its natural oils and this can leave the skin dry and rough.
Deficiency of vitamins, minerals and zinc can lead to skin breakdown as well. (See Important Seniors’ Nutritional Supplements Reviewed)
Symptoms of Dry, Cracked Heels
One of the first signs of dry, cracked heels is formation of thick, discolored callus tissue that may cause pain with everyday pressure-related activities like walking or running.
If the callus goes untreated and continuous pressure is applied, then you may eventually notice small or even deep breaks that may cause bleeding to occur. If not properly cared for, this may cause an infection. The skin to the heels may begin to redden or become severely inflamed.
Diabetics must check their feet daily because these changes can go unnoticed due to a decreased ability to feel their feet. (See Caring for Diabetic Feet)
Dry, cracked heels are easily prevented by wearing adequate supportive shoes and with regular use of moisturizers. Ideally, the goal is to prevent cracks from first forming.
If you have developed dry, cracked heels, here’s a simple healing plan that works, which you can manage yourself:
Start With a Soak
Start your treatment with a warm soak to soften the skin, followed by a scrub with a Pumice stone, to remove some of the excess dead skin that is preventing proper healing. Try the Cuccio Earth Lava Pumice Stone. It is all-natural, inexpensive, and has excellent reviews.
I personally like this all-natural Therapeutic Foot Soak, which is a bestseller among foot soaks. It’s ultra soothing formula contains chamomile oil and tea tree oil for their healing, antibacterial and antifungal properties. I find it has a relaxing scent, is a pleasure to use, and I think its a great value.
Next, Use a Good Topical Cream
Topical creams are documented to be the best skin care treatment, so after your soak and scrub, dry your foot thoroughly and apply a cracked heel cream. Mild cases may have success with petroleum jelly, but a cream developed specifically for cracked heels will provide a more effective remedy for cracked skin.
I have two recommendations for cracked heel cream, both of which have my husband’s seal of approval. My husband, Mark suffers from chronic dry, cracked heels. He wears flip-flops most of the time, which is probably the largest contributing factor to his problem. These are the products which have worked best for him (when used consistently).
This newer product is a non-petroleum, lanolin-based balm. It is a simple formula and an inexpensive product which works well once the cracks have started to heal. I recommend switching to this product for the later stages of healing and for maintenance.
Finally, Cover and Protect
Finally, use a bandages or covering to allow moisturizing agents to work more effectively, prevent moisture loss, and act as a barrier against bacteria growth.
My husband and I both these heel protectors for day and overnight; they keep the cream on your heel (and not in your socks, on your floor, or in your bed!)
These protectors are not particularly cushioning, but they are excellent for using during your heel treatment, and they wont cause your feet to overheat when you wear them to bed; better than bandages and cooler than socks. These are unisex and will stretch to fit larger feet.
Do give it some time and be consistent in your efforts. Even the worst heels can be coaxed back to normal with enough patience.
If healing is particularly slow, have a podiatrist examine your heels; he or she may decide to remove specific callus tissue to help the healing process.
Please share your tips on dealing with dry, cracked heels in the comment section.
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