Cracked Heels: At Home Remedies and Prevention
Dry skin that hardens and cracks (also known as fissures) is a common skin disorder. One survey found that 20 percent of adults in the US experience cracked skin on their feet. For most people, having cracked heels is more of a discomfort and a nuisance, however it can occasionally lead to more serious problems if left untreated. Read on to learn about the cause and the best home remedies for treating and preventing cracked heels.
What causes cracked heels?
Heels can crack when the skin around the rim of the heel becomes dry and thick, and increased pressure on the fat pad under the heel causes the skin to split. A number of factors can raise the risk of developing cracked heels, including obesity, wearing open-heel footwear such as sandals, and having cold, dry skin. Friction from the back of your shoes can make heel dryness and cracking worse. Wearing supportive, properly fitting, closed shoes with socks may ease symptoms. Losing excess weight also can relieve pressure on your heels and reduce cracking. MAYO CLINIC
Weather often contributes to the problem, too. Skin tends to be driest in the winter when humidity is low and the outdoor temperature is cold. The way homes are heated in the wintertime also has an effect. Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, central heating and space heaters all reduce indoor humidity, and that dries out skin.
Regularly exposing the skin on your feet to hot water during showers and baths dries skin, too, especially if it’s not moisturized within about 10 minutes after you get out of the bath or shower. Harsh soaps and detergents can damage the natural skin barrier and cause water loss from the skin, worsening the problem.
Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis may lead to cracked heels. After menopause, some women may be more prone to a condition known as “acquired keratoderma” — a skin disorder that can lead to cracked skin on the heels and other parts of the body. In those cases, topical estrogen ointments may be recommended to help heal the affected skin.
Remedies & Prevention
There are several steps you can take to treat and combat dry skin on your feet. The first step is to give them more attention every day especially during the dry winter months.
STEP BY STEP: How to Treat and Manage Dry Feet
- SOAK: Give your feet extra attention before bed by soak them at least twice a week in plain or soapy water for about 10-20 minutes. Pat them dry.
- REMOVE DEAD SKIN: Gentle rub your feet/heels with a gentle exfoliating scrub, loofah to help remove the dead skin. Dip your feet back in the water to rinse off the any remaining dead skin and pat dry.
- MOISTURIZE: For skin that is cracked and bleeding, apply a wax based balm to help heal the surface and protect it from moisture loss. For dry heels, apply a heavy cream.
- SEAL TO HEAL: Slip on a pair of thin cotton socks to lock in the moisture overnight.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT PRODUCTS: Natural Skin Care
CLEANSING: Commercial soaps and liquid body washes contain harsh chemical ingredients that remove surface oil from the skin and can further complicate the problem. You can reduce dry skin by using a gentle soap like our goats milk soaps (available in over 40 different fragrances). Take warm (not hot) baths and shower and moisturize your feet right after your dry off.
EXFOLIATION: Removing the dead skin from your feet is an important step in treating and maintaining healthy feet. Our Sugar Whipped Hand & Foot Scrub is formulated with super fine sugar and rich oils and butters that emulsifies into a creamy body wash and scrub that gently and effectively removes dry and dead skin cells. Our sugar whipped scrub allows your moisturizer to work ten times better.
MOISTURIZERS: To combat dry skin moisturize your feet as frequently as you can but especially before you go to bed. Then put on a pair of thin cotton socks to lock in the moisture overnight. We recommend using two different types of moisturizers:
FOR DRY FEET AND HEELS: Use a thick moisturizer like our Neem Cream or Whipped Shea Body Butter. These thick moisturizers contain rich oils and butters that work to hydrate and moisturize the surface of the skin. They eliminate itching and irritation while they heal and repair the surface.
FOR CRACKED OR BLEEDING HEELS: Use our Foot Lotion Repair Stick that is formulated with beeswax that creates a protective barrier on the surface of the skin. It not only prevents moisture loss, but it also allows the rich ingredients to heal and repair the surface quickly.
Don’t ignore dry, cracked heels, as over time you may develop deeper fissures, which increases your risk of infection. If self-care measures don’t help, talk with your doctor about other treatment options.
In some cases, dry, cracked skin could be a sign of a more significant health issue, such as diabetes or loss of nerve function. If you suspect an underlying medical condition, talk to your health care provider to see if you need further evaluation.
Written By: Mary Ellen Wank, Wellness Advocate and Founder of LATIV, Natural Skin Revival DISCLAIMERSeptember 27, 2019 6:36 am