Cracked heels are one of the most frequent foot problems in adults and children. It’s an easy foot problem to spot; you’ll notice cracked and hard skin on your heel.
Typically, cracked heels cause minor discomfort in most people suffering from them. You may experience slight soreness what walking around, but the majority of cases don’t go further than this. However, there are instances where cracked heels have become so bad that they cause extreme pain for the sufferer. This usually happens when they’re left untreated, so they just get worse and worse.
If you’re suffering from this foot problem, then this guide is for you. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about cracked heels. This includes foot care tips to treat the problem, steps to prevent them, and much more.
What Are Cracked Heels?
Cracked heels are sometimes called heel fissures because of the cracks you get when suffering from this condition. The skin on the base of your heel becomes very dry, thick, and hard. Essentially, it forms into callouses around your heel.
The cracks occur when you walk around. As you put pressure on your heel, the layer of fat under it will expand. Due to the extreme dryness of the skin, it causes cracks to appear. In severe cases, the cracks may become infected, which is what tends to lead to pain.
What Causes Cracked Heels?
One of the problems with cracked heels is that they can be caused by a variety of different things. Some of these are easily avoidable because they’re habitual, while others are more medically based.
In this section, we’ll look at what might be causing your cracked heels. Run through all the possibilities and identify what you believe is the leading cause. After all, one of the secrets to remedying this situation is dealing with the main issue.
Having dry skin is the number one cause of cracked heels. Most people lack moisture in their heels because there simply aren’t many sweat glands in this area. This problem is made even worse when you wear sandals or other open footwear. When your skin gets too dry, it loses all of its elasticity. As such, when the fat pad below your heel expands, the skin won’t expand and stretch with it.
Similarly, aging skin decreases in elasticity. This is why we start getting wrinkles as we grow older. With your feet, the skin on your heels ends up getting drier and harder. Therefore, it creates the perfect climate for cracked heels to spawn.
Believe it or not, but your diet could be the cause of your cracked heels. Specifically, if you have various vitamin deficiencies, then you’re prone to this foot problem. If you’re deficient in vitamin B3, then you are likely to develop conditions where your skin gets cracked or scaly. Zinc is another thing you need to get a lot of as it helps promote healthy skin too. So, if you feel like your diet isn’t up to scratch, then it might be why you have this foot issue.
Your choice of footwear plays a significant role in the creation of cracked heels. Open-back footwear that exposes your heel can be an issue for two reasons. Firstly, as touched upon before, it dries out the skin. Secondly, it allows the fat under your heel to expand more as it can go sideways over the edge of the footwear. As a result, this can crack dry skin.
Furthermore, wearing footwear that doesn’t fit will also contribute to cracked heels. If your shoes are too tight, then your heels rub against the back of them when you walk. This increased friction will cause the skin to thicken up and get much harder. As such, you put yourself at risk of cracked heels.
Standing For Too Long
If you stand up for extended periods, then it puts increased pressure on your heels. The skin endures too much stress, so it creates a defence mechanism. To try and cope with all the pressure, the skin will harden and thicken. Therefore, your heels are now in the prime condition for cracks to occur when the fat below it expands.
Various medical issues might be the source of your discomfort here. Things like Athlete’s Foot, eczema, and other skin conditions may be the cause. But, it could also be down to obesity; this links back to the idea of putting too much pressure on your heels. If you’re obese, then the fat bad is being exposed to more pressure. As a result, it expands, which creates cracked heels.
If you’re using abrasive soaps or scrubs, then it might lead to cracked heels. You scrub away the skin, so it grows back dry and hard.
Sometimes, you could be genetically pre-disposed to dry or thick skin around your heels. This is a bitter pill to swallow. On the one hand, you don’t have to worry about any other underlying conditions. On the other hand, you know you have to deal with it for your whole life because it can’t really be prevented.
Once you understand what’s causing your cracked heels, you can proceed with some foot care tips to remedy the situation.
Cracked Heels Remedies
Thankfully, there are lots of remedies you can try to reverse the effects of cracked heels. All of these treatments can be carried out at home, and they’re all safe.
Use A Moisturizer/Balm To Soften The Skin
You’ll find a plethora of skin-softening products that will come in handy here. Of course, the main problem with cracked heels is that the skin has become so hard and dry. With a moisturizer, you can reverse this issue. Apply the cream or balm to your heel, and it will soften the skin, provide it with essential moisture, and improve the elasticity.
Ideally, you want a moisturizer that includes keratin as an active ingredient. Our skin naturally produces this substance to keep it healthy and flexible. By using a moisturizer with keratin, you naturally aid the healing process by giving your skin everything it needs to repair itself.
Apply Petroleum Jelly
After you’ve used a moisturizer, you can also apply petroleum jelly to your skin. This is commonly found in shops under the name Vaseline. A thin layer will coat your heel and prevent water and moisture from escaping the skin. As such, it works with the previous moisturizer to avoid dry skin and keep your heels soft and smooth.
Exfoliate Your Skin
Exfoliating your skin is an effective way of removing the dry and cracked skin from your heel. From here, you allow the skin to repair itself correctly and respond better to all other treatments.
One key consideration is that you don’t exfoliate the skin while it’s dry. Soak your feet in a bath, so your heels naturally soften. While they’re soaked, use a pumice stone to exfoliate and remove the thick skin. Then, dry them and apply your moisturizer and petroleum jelly.
Use A Honey Foot Scrub
If you’re looking for a natural scrub to help cleanse your heels and provide moisture, then honey is a great place to start. It’s proven to have antibacterial properties, which helps fight against any infections that could occur if your cracks are deep and bleed. It soothes your skin, softens it, and helps the healing process. I suggest using honey to scrub your heels after a foot bath.
Apply A Bandage To Your Heel
In some cases, your cracked heels may get worse to the point where they really start to hurt and might bleed a little. Well, applying a gel or liquid bandage can help treat this problem. It gives your heels an additional layer of protection to stop them from getting worse. They won’t be severely affected by the back part of your shoes, and you prevent any germs from entering the cracks and causing painful infections. A liquid bandage reduces pain, which will help you heal faster as well.
Improve Your Diet
Improving your diet will do two things to help remedy cracked heels. Firstly, if you boost your intake of essential vitamins and minerals that help keep your skin healthy, then you can prevent dry skin. Try and ingest more vitamin E, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and zinc.
Secondly, if you eat healthily, then you can make strides towards losing weight. If you’re overweight, then you know you’re putting too much pressure on your heels, causing the cracks. So, addressing this issue will help you out.
Now, it’s unlikely that you’ll need medical help when you have cracked heels. But, if you try these treatments for a couple of weeks and see zero results, then consult a medical professional. Podiatrists are the feet experts, so go and see one if the issue persists.
Cracked Heels Prevention
Treating your cracked heels is only part of the overall solution. Alongside the remedies, you need to know how to prevent your heels from cracking again. This will ensure you don’t see any flare-ups, while also allowing the treatments to work quicker too.
So, what can you do?
Keep Your Heels Moisturized
If you suffer from dry skin, then you must make moisturizing part of your daily routine. A good idea is to apply some before you go to bed every night. Once you’ve done this, put on some 100% cotton socks to trap the moisturizer in. This will do wonders for the flexibility and elasticity of your skin!
Avoid Long Showers/Baths
Strangely, soaking your feet in water for too long will have the opposite effect that you’re after. Water actually causes natural oils in your feet to go away, which makes the skin feel dry. So, limit your washes to prevent this from happening.
Dry Your Feet Thoroughly After You Wash
Don’t let your feet stay damp or wet after you’ve cleaned them. This will only contribute to the dryness, which results in cracked heels. Pat them dry with a soft towel, then apply your moisturizer to ensure they remain nice and soft.
Wear Shoes That Fit
One of the easiest ways to prevent cracked heels is by wearing appropriate footwear. Stay away from footwear that exposes your heel as this drys it out. Ensure you buy shoes that provide excellent heel support to take the pressure off it. You could get special insoles that do this as well if you want to make your existing shoes fit better. Finally, make sure you buy shoes that actually fit and aren’t too tight.
Scrub Your Heels Regularly
Once or twice a week, you should exfoliate your skin and scrub away any dry or dead skin that’s beginning to harden. Don’t do this every single day as you’ll end up damaging the skin and doing more harm than good. But, lightly using a pumice stone or foot scrubber will do the trick nicely. Essentially, you will prevent thick skin from forming, which keeps the cracked heels at bay.
Make Sure You Wear Socks
Don’t walk around barefoot or wear shoes without any socks. This just puts extra pressure on your heels and exposes them. A barefoot that rubs against the inside of a shoe will be on a one-way ticket to cracked heelsville. Wear socks that have decent padding to relieve some of the pressure and keep your heels nice and soft.
Cracked Heels: A Summary
Anyone can suffer from cracked heels as a lot of the causes are down to things we might do. To treat the problem, you need to identify what causes it. Then, you can explore the different home remedies to heal your heels.
Generally speaking, the treatment process is based on the idea of softening your skin and preventing it from drying out. But, it’s crucial to follow preventative measures as well. The treatments will heal you, and the preventative ideas will stop cracked heels from coming back to haunt you.