Cracked heels are a common cosmetic concern. The skin around the heels is drier and thicker than in other areas of the body. It gets worse during the winter months and results in the development of cracked heels. Soaking and moisturizing seem to be the simplest and best natural home remedy that works for most people. Here is how you can do this.
- Soak your feet in soapy water for 20 minutes.
- Use a pumice stone/loofah/foot scrubber to gently scrub and remove the dead cells (hard, thick skin) over the cracked heels.
- Wipe the feet and apply a heavy moisturizer, such as petroleum jelly, over the heels as soon as you towel the heels dry.
- Wear socks to lock-in the moisture in the heels.
Continue moisturizing the heels at least twice a day. Look for thick moisturizers. Examples include products containing one or two of the following ingredients:
- Petroleum jelly
Some skin-softening agents, such as salicylic acid, urea, and alpha-hydroxy acids help in removing the dead cells as well.
Some home remedies for cracked heels are not scientifically established. However, it does not harm much if using for cracked heels. These include:
- Shea butter
- Mashed bananas
- Coconut oil
- Castor oil
- Olive oil
- Paraffin wax
- Kokum butter (Garcinia Indica extract)
What causes cracked heels?
Cracked heels, medically called “heel fissures,” are a common foot condition in the United States. It affects 20 out of every 100 adults (aged 21 years and above) in the United States at some point in their lives. The condition occurs more commonly in women than in men.
For some individuals, cracked heels may also be painful when the fissures go deep into the skin.
Cracked heels happen due to the excessive drying of the skin over the heels. Increased pressure on the padded fat below the skin causes the skin to split and results in cracked heels. The problem most commonly occurs during winters when the weather is cold and dry. Decreased humidity in rooms due to the use of heaters and fireplaces contributes to the problem by causing the skin to become drier.
The factors that increase your risk of cracked heels include:
- Wearing open-heel footwear, such as sandals (cause the sideways to expand)
- Prolonged standing, especially on hard floors
Cracked heels can occur as a sign/consequence of other skin disorders, such as:
- Fungal infections
- Acquired keratoderma (menopause makes you prone to develop this condition)
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O'Sullivan G, Fotinos C, St Anna L. Clinical Inquiry: What treatments relieve painful heel cracks? J Fam Pract. October 2012;61(10):622-3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23106066/
Torborg L. Mayo Clinic Q and A: Take Steps at Home to Manage Dry, Cracked Heels. Mayoclinic. December 25, 2018. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-take-steps-at-home-to-manage-dry-cracked-heels/#
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