Nothing is more aggravating and seemingly harder to heal than your dry and cracked heels. It can feel as if no amount of lotion will relieve the dryness, and the cracks just appear to run so deep. When your heels reach the point of supposedly no return, not to fret. There are ways to combat what seems to be a very stubborn part of the body, and the answers are much easier than you may have previously expected.
Causes of Cracked Heels
The appearance of dry and cracked heels can be a result of a number of problems. It affects nearly 20 percent of adults in the United States so the issue is more common than you may have realized. As unattractive and uncomfortable as they may be, you are not alone in having this condition occur to you. Heels can crack when the skin around the rim of your heel becomes dry and thick, and increased pressure on the fat pad under the heel causes the skin to split.
Medical Conditions – Eczema, psoriasis, or even obesity can be contributing factors to dry heels. Women after experiencing menopause have been susceptible to a condition by the name of “acquired keratoderma” which can cause cracking of the skin especially at the heels. Other ailments such as diabetes which results in poor circulation due to high blood sugar levels can be the culprit for your heels becoming dry and cracked.
Weather – During colder months such as wintertime, the lack of moisture in the air can be the culprit of dry skin on the heels. The absence of humidity in the air causes very dry conditions, thus allowing for the dryness in the heels to ensue. Likewise, the heat inside the home from such things as fireplaces and heaters will also remove the moisture from the air making it a warmer, moisture-free environment where dry skin thrives.
Wearing Open Footwear/Bare Feet – Caused by the friction of the shoes against your heel, this constant rubbing will cause dryness as will walking around in your bare feet or in shoes without proper support.
Hot Water Exposure – When showering or bathing, constant exposure to hot water will dry out the skin. Using abrasive soaps and cleansers will also exacerbate the issue further.
Standing – Being on your feet for long periods can also cause dry and cracked heels to occur. The constant pressure on the feel doesn’t allow for moisture or proper circulation to take place.
If you do not look to treat dry cracked heels at the onset, they can worsen to the point of infection, bleeding, and pain. Especially if it is caused by another medical condition, infection and swelling may become a more severe issue than the initial dryness, to begin with.
Remedies to cure and alleviate your dry, cracked heels are abundant. Unless infection has set in, every treatment will be one that is easily done without needing any medical assistance or aggressive medications. Repetition is critical in healing any pain or wounds, the more you keep up with treatment, the quicker it will happen.
Moisturize and Clean – The main focus on stopping your heels from becoming more cracked to the point of causing pain is to manage and prevent. Within 10 minutes of showering/bathing, lather the heels with a good moisturizing lotion. While bathing, use lukewarm water rather than hot because exposure to hot water only dries out the skin. A gentle soap is advised to ensure that the cracked heels stay clean from irritants which can lead to infection.
In the evening prior to bedtime, lather up the heels with a moisturizing lotion and put on a pair of breathable, natural fiber socks to seal in the moisture but allow for proper ventilation and circulation. Not just in the evening but as many times as you are able to during the course of the day, keep putting on lotion on those heels to help accelerate the healing process. Look for moisturizers that contain ultra-hydrating properties such as a lotion with hemp seed oil, which aids in absorption but also provides a natural source of rich nourishment.
Wear Better Footwear – If you are prone to having dry, cracked heels, it is time to set aside the sandals for a little while. That constant rubbing only causes more problems to the heels and the dryness continues to occur. Likewise, open-backed shoes do not provide enough heel support needed for proper healing. Heels that have the heel exposed can also cause it to expand and not be supported either. A gel insole may be necessary in the interim as your heel is in the recovery process should you have a severe case of cracked heels.
Avoid Being On Your Feet – To heal already cracked heels, standing for long periods of time is not going to fare well in the process. The pressure and weight on the heels do not allow for proper circulation and blood flow to the area. Take breaks if you know you must be up for a period of time.
Exfoliate – To prevent cracks, exfoliation is key. A good exfoliation process such as using a pumice stone will work to shave off all of the dead skin cells off of your foot to expose the fresh, new skin beneath it. After soaking your feet during a bath or shower, using a pumice stone or any other form of the exfoliating tool will work to remove the excess dry skin in an easier to remove fashion. Even if dryness and cracked heels have already set in, gently getting rid of the rough dead skin cells will aid in allowing healthier skin to surface. Be aware of over scrubbing when the heels are cracked as you may cause further injury or exposure to open wounds.
Heel Treatment – For an intense dose of moisturizing, there are products that are targeted at healing cracked heels such as a heel balm. The combination of known hydrating ingredients provides a much-needed dose of natural oils that work wonders at healing skin that has been affected by dryness. The healing process can happen fairly rapidly, as results can be seen in a matter of several days. This form of treatment is ideal in situations where the heels have already begun cracking and require a quick, accelerated treatment beyond just a moisturizing cream. Having one handy can really be a nice relief when preventative care falls by the wayside and you require that super-strong dose of relief.
Checking your feet often for signs of dryness before it gets to the degree of cracked heels can save you a world of extra work in the future to try and bring them back to the healthier state they were previously in. As often as you can, continually moisturize your heels, even when they don’t appear to be dry or cracked. If you know you are prone to this area having dryness, it is a must in preventative and reparative care to constantly keep the skin hydrated. Particularly in an area that does not get exposed to much and is regularly covered up.
During colder months, keeping your skin hydrated is already a practice that should be implemented as the cold dry weather can be brutal, no matter what part of the body. Stay hydrated as much as possible, as dry skin, even at the heel level is due to a lack of moisture in the body. Doing your part by ensuring your body will overall have the highest level of hydration from the inside will affect the outside as well.
Maintaining a healthy weight can also ensure that you do not put added pressure onto the heels which can not only cause the dry cracked heels issue to begin with but make it challenging to alleviate the pain as well. It goes without saying that being in your best physical form starting from the inside out will affect many parts of your body, from the very top to the very bottom of your heels.
If none of these home remedies seem to make any impact on your dry cracked heels, it may be time to consult a doctor to ensure that the issue isn’t a result of any other larger underlying issues.
Cracked heels can turn into a deeper open wound, leaving the skin exposed to having potential infections occur. All of the solutions listed above are easy to implement and can work to not only heal but prevent further pain to the heels. Your heels are likely an area that is often overlooked, that is until the pain, itching or discomfort ensues.
Making some small changes to your routine can easily make this potentially highly uncomfortable situation into a much more manageable one if you just remain consistent in your treatment. Thankfully, the body is awfully resilient and there is just so much knowledge and products on the market today which makes having any physical pain way more manageable than ever before.