According to a 2012 survey, about 20% of people in the United States suffer from cracked heels or heel fissures. It occurs equally among men, women, and children. The survey also revealed that women had a 50% higher likelihood of reporting the presence of cracked heels. Apart from the cracks on the feet’s skin, it’s also characterized by thickening of the skin and brown or yellow calluses on the edges of the heels.
It’s not usually a serious condition because, for most people, only the outermost layer of the skin is affected. However, cracked heels could cause discomfort while walking barefoot and if the fissures go much deeper, they could be very painful. Bleeding may even occur in some serious instances.
What Causes Cracked Heels?
Cracked heels appear when the skin of your heels splits because of dryness. When the skin is unable to retain moisture, it becomes fragile and cracks. The feet hold up your entire body weight so the pressure on dry heels easily causes fissures. Other factors that lead to cracked heels include:
During winter, the atmosphere both indoors and outdoors contains little humidity so your skin tends to be drier. That is why you are more likely to develop heel fissures on those cold winter days.
As you grow older, the skin loses its elasticity, gets thinner so it becomes easier for it to lose moisture and get dry. Therefore, cracked heels are common among older adults.
Medical conditions like eczema and psoriasis make the skin dry so if you have them, you are more likely to develop heel fissures.
Excess weight puts a lot of pressure on your heels. It makes the fat pad under your heels to expand sideways and the skin eventually cracks.
Open-back shoes let the fat pad of your heels expand sideways so the pressure leads to cracking of its skin. Walking barefoot or wearing uncomfortable shoes also causes the same situation because the heels don’t get proper support.
Harsh Treatment of Heels
If you exert too much force in scrubbing your heels or use harsh soaps, they crack. This is because the harsh treatment of heels strips them of natural oils and dries them.
Water strips the feet of its natural oils and leaves them dry. Stepping in damp places for long periods will leave you with dry and cracked feet.
Having a predisposition to thick skin, dry and callused heels puts you at a higher risk of getting cracked heels.
Is Cracked Heels a Vitamin Deficiency?
Yes. Cracked heels could be a sign that you lack some vitamins. If your body lacks some essential vitamins, it may cause your skin to be dry, flaky, dull, prematurely aged, and cracked.
To get healthy and nourished skin, you need to get the following essential vitamins in abundance:
It helps give you healthy skin because it has antioxidant properties that protect your skin cells and helps them last longer. It does this by protecting the collagen against the biological agents that age your skin such as dry skin.
Foods that are rich in Vitamin E include avocados, sunflower seeds, salmon, almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, wheat germ oil, and mangoes.
Like vitamin E, vitamin C is an antioxidant so it protects the skin from damage. It helps in the production of collagen which makes up the majority of the dermis. It also promotes the retention of moisture in your skin. Lack of enough vitamin C leads to skin dehydration so your heels become dry and crack.
Foods that are rich in vitamin C include kales, citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, guavas, green and red peppers, kiwifruits, and Brussels sprouts.
It’s also an antioxidant that helps in fighting free radicals that cause harm if they are in high concentration. The deficiency of vitamin B-3 leads to a disease called pellagra that causes dry and scaly skin on various areas of the body including the heels.
Foods that you need to eat in plenty to provide you with vitamin B-3 include lentils, poultry meat, seafood such as salmon and tuna, brown rice, beef liver, and ground beef.
How to Prevent Cracked Heels
You can take steps towards preventing the occurrence of heel fissures.
Wear Proper Shoes
Avoid wearing open-back shoes like sandals that don’t provide good heel support, shoes with thin and tall heels that make your heel expand sideways, and shoes that are too tight.
Wear closed shoes that have a wide and firm heel to provide your heels with nice support and shoes that fit you properly.
You can get extra support for your heels from good quality padded socks. Custom orthotics will also help in evening out your weight distribution.
Keep Your Feet Hydrated
You can ensure your feet retain moisture by applying foot creams and putting on socks before you go to sleep and after you take a bath and dry your feet.
You can also prevent your feet from losing their natural oils by limiting baths to 5-10 minutes. Avoid using harsh soaps that also strip oils from your skin.
You should also drink plenty of water to make sure your skin is hydrated.
Silicon heel cups are also a great way to not only help you retain moisture on your heels but also provide them with proper support.
Scrub Your Heels
Use a Pumice stone to scrub your heel’s skin a few times a week to get rid of thickened skin. However, if you’re diabetic or neuropathic, avoid this method because you may create wounds and cause infections.
How to Heal Deep-cracked Heels
When cracked heels are not treated early, deep cracks form. These fissures are prone to infections. Applying antibacterial medication will help prevent and heal those infections. You should also use a mild exfoliator or pumice stone to remove the calluses.
Another step to promote healing is to apply moisturizer twice a day. After moisturizing, apply petroleum jelly and put on socks before going to sleep to lock in the moisture.
Once the deep cracks have healed, keep up the routine to make sure the cracked heels don’t recur.
Home Remedies for Cracked Heels
The following are remedies you can use to treat your cracked heels at home:
Soak and Exfoliate
Soaking and exfoliating will help in treating cracked feet. You should follow the following steps:
- Soak your feet in soapy warm water for about 20 minutes
- For exfoliating, use a pumice stone or loofah to gently scrub off the dead skin and reveal smoother skin
- Dry your feet by gently patting with a towel
- Apply a moisturizer or heel balm
- To lock the moisture in, apply petroleum jelly and put on socks
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A liquid bandage is used to seal the wounds that result from cracks so as to prevent infection. This remedy is specifically effective when you have deep cracks that bleed and have an infection. It comes in a spray form so the inconvenience of a bandage falling off as you move about is eliminated. The liquid bandage should only be applied to dry and clean skin.
Superglue has been used in some cases to successfully seal heel cracks. However, some brands of superglue may contain toxic chemicals so consult your doctor before you try.
It has excellent moisturizing properties so applying it to the affected area after a foot soak could prove beneficial. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties so it will be useful if you have an infection.
When mixed with warm water, white vinegar can be used as a foot soak. After 20 minutes of soaking, use a pumice stone to scrub off dead cells. A paste of white vinegar, cocoa butter, and warm water can be rubbed on heels to slough off dead cells.
Its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties will help in healing infections if you have them. It’s also a great moisturizer so it will prevent dry skin which is what causes cracked heels.
Bananas contain vitamin A that helps moisturize the skin and rid it of dryness. Mash ripe bananas and apply it on the affected areas. After 20-25 minutes, wash it off with warm water.
H-CRACKED HEELS FORMULA
To get rid of cracked feet for good, you need to get yourself the H-Cracked Heels formula. It’s an effective solution because it treats cracked heels, moisturizes, and relieves the pain that comes with deep fissures. It’s a natural product free of the harsh chemicals that are present in other medications.
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