Cracked heels, also known as heel fissures, are a common foot condition that can be both unsightly and uncomfortable. Easy to spot, cracked heels feel thick and appear callused. While often the problem stays a cosmetic issue, cracks that deepen can also cause bleeding, pain and infection.
So, who does the condition affect? According to the 2012 National Foot Health Assessment by the NPD Group for the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, 20 percent of adults who are 21 or older have experienced skin cracks on their feet. In addition, women reported experiencing the problem 50 percent more than men.
Moreover, medical issues like diabetes, psoriasis and eczema also put people at a higher risk of developing cracked heels.
People with diets suffering from a vitamin deficiency also face difficulties when it comes to skin health. After all, lacking proper fuel leaves the skin brittle and easy to crack.
To better understand what’s causing your heel cracks and the proper steps to take towards healing and prevention, check out these FootFitter cracked heels treatment tips.
What’s causing cracked heels?
Typically, simple dryness and a lack of proper moisture is to blame for the cracks on the back and bottom of your feet. If this is the culprit, simply including better skincare habits in your routine will help reduce the appearance of cracked skin and rough patches.
However, dryness isn’t always the only problem contributing to heel cracks.
Standing up puts the pressure of your body weight on the small pads of your feet. In their flattened state, your feet are less flexible and elastic. In particular, open-back or tight shoes amplify the problem and the stiffness often creates cracks.
Uncontrollable factors like age and genetics also contribute to damage along the bottoms and borders of the feet while causes like extra weight and colder climates can be altered or prevented.
How to heal deep cracked heels
However, if bettering your diet and applying a little extra lotion isn’t getting rid of your cracked heels, there are additional methods you can use to aid your at-home healing process.
It may seem counterintuitive to opt for a lukewarm shower over a long, hot bath when you’re facing dryness issues. After all, hot water can have a steamy exfoliating effect that would seem helpful in this situation. However, hot bath water can also be stripping and leave your feet dryer than before.
Yet, soaking your feet for a short period of time isn’t entirely a bad idea, as long as you keep the temperature and time regulated. Doing so before exfoliating can help soften the skin and loosen any dead skin cells contributing to the cracks.
Afterwards, to get rid of some of the excess skin, try using a gentle fragrance-free exfoliator wash on your feet. The soft alternative will have a moisturizing affect on your feet post-shower.
After the shower
After the shower, applying proper creams to your feet is necessary to diminish the appearance of cracked heels.
When you’re facing a moisture problem, using a thick cream that can deeply penetrate dry skin will help reduce imperfections and allow your feet to stretch and relax.
Brands like Aveeno and CeraVe offer good options for daily moisturizers to use on your feet once or twice daily.
If the problem is more severe than a little extra dryness, search for brands marketing “intensive healing” creams. These lotions typically target dry skin and are made with thickening ingredients that offer your feet a boost of hydration.
Other natural remedies
The first natural remedy is often overlooked: water. It may seem almost too straightforward but simply drinking some extra water will help hydrate your skin and fight off cracked heels.
With all the breathing, sweating and trips to the bathroom we take in a day, the Mayo Clinic suggests men consume 15 and a half cups of water a day while they claim women should drink at least 11 and a half.
Other common household ingredients like lemon juice, avocado, honey, oatmeal and coconut oil offer natural foot care treatments.
For example, lemon juice contains vitamin C and potassium, which have moisturizing qualities that encourage skin cell growth and help prevent future dry skin. Likewise, avocado and honey use sterolin and humectants to penetrate skin more deeply and help it retain moisture.
Lastly, oatmeal and coconut oil work well together to gently exfoliate and then rehydrate with fatty acids that reduce texture and soften skin.
Considering your shoe choices
Observing your shoe habits also provides insight into why you may be experiencing cracked heels. If you spend most days trekking across the beach or through the city in sandals, the “comfortable” option may actually be causing the extra wear and tear on your feet.
After all, sandals and other flat styles contribute to the widening effect that causes your feet to stiffen and become prone to cracking. Additionally, sandals tend to wear out the fastest and wearing an old pair that is dipping or jetting in some areas creates an uneven and damaging terrain for your feet.
In general, it’s best to opt for closed-toe shoes if you’re looking to avoid cracked heels. However, sandals and slippers aren’t the only culprits in your closet. High heels and dress shoes also bring their fair share of problems.
Stiff or tight shoes often lead to chaffing which leaves heels and the underside of the foot with a sandpapery or blistered texture.
Thankfully, tools are available to help keep closed-toe shoes from scraping your skin. When it comes to heels, adding heel grips to your shoe backing provides an extra layer of protection. In addition, using a shoe stretcher helps break in new dress shoes without the period of stiffness that can harm your feet.
How socks can help
Sleeping in socks infused with aloe will create somewhat of a moisture mask for your feet. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and the rejuvenation will likely combat the cracks taking up real estate on your feet.
Luckily, a quick trip to Walmart will help you score a pair in your size.
Trying activities like yoga for feet flexibility
Lastly, fighting cracked heels can be fun. Trying out activities like yoga that focus on body positioning and flexibility will help reduce stiffness in your feet. This preventive action ensures extra elasticity that will allow your feet to move more without becoming rough.
Beating the curse of cracked heels
Now that you better understand where your foot foes come from and tips to treat and turn them away, your cracked heels will simply be a problem of the past.