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Your entire body weight falls on your feet and can render them tired and worn out. Unfortunately, a lot of people neglect the condition of their feet until they develop severe problems that affect their daily movement and comfort.
Cracked heels are one such complaint wherein fissures appear at the base of your feet due to continued pressure and friction. These cracks tend to get deeper and more painful without timely treatment.
Popular Home Remedies for Cracked Heels
Here are a few topical remedies to repair cracked heels, but keep these points in mind before you try them:
- Always clean your feet before applying any remedy.
- The best time to apply a remedy is before bedtime since it remains on your feet throughout the night as you sleep.
- For any remedy to yield desired results, it is important to use it regularly. These remedies have delivered beneficial results for many users, but are not backed by scientific research.
1. Apply honey
Honey imparts moisture to the skin and locks it in to prolong the hydrating effect. Moreover, honey has wound-healing and antiseptic properties that can help treat your dry, cracked heels. (1)
How to use:
- Add two tablespoons of milk into a cup of warm honey, and stir the mixture together to form a paste.
- Cover your cracked heels with this paste and leave it on overnight.
- Rinse it off the next day.
- Apply this remedy every night for a month to reveal soft, repaired heels.
2. Moisturize with shea butter
Shea butter is good for deeply moisturizing the rough, broken skin of your heels, but further studies are needed to establish its efficacy.
How to use: Apply a small amount of shea butter all over your cracked heels, before bedtime, and allow the moisturizer to seep deep into the skin.
You have to stick with this remedy in the long-term for it to have its desired effect.
3. Use bananas
Bananas have been popularly used for repairing cracked heels, owing to its moisturizing effects. However, there aren’t enough scientific studies to substantiate its healing effect.
How to use:
- Simply peel and mash two ripe bananas to a paste and apply it on your heels.
- Let it sit for around 10 minutes and then wash your feet with lukewarm water.
- Multiple applications will make your heels softer and smoother.
4. Exfoliate with rice flour
The tiny granules of rice flour gently scrub away the dry, flaky skin and deep-seated impurities without aggravating the fissures. Moreover, rice flour may also help impart lost minerals for healthier skin.
While this remedy has earned a lot of acclaim on internet forums and in the lay community, it lacks scientific support.
How to use:
- Add a few drops of honey to some rice flour and mix them together to form a thick paste.
- Apply the paste on the affected area and gently massage it to shed the dead, flaky skin.
- Wash your feet with lukewarm water once you are done.
- Apply a generous amount of moisturizer all over your feet.
5. Use oatmeal
Colloidal oatmeal is a natural exfoliant that exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a suitable remedy for dry cracked heels. (2)
How to use: Colloidal oatmeal can be used as gentle scrubs as well as a soothing lotion containing colloidal oatmeal extracts.
6. Take a Listerine and vinegar foot bath
You can fix yourself a foot soak using Listerine and vinegar, both of which can help disinfect, soften and rejuvenate cracked heels.
- Add equal parts Listerine and vinegar to double the amount of warm water in a tub or a bucket.
- Soak your feet in the mixture for 10–15 minutes, to loosen the dead, flaky surface skin.
- Then, gently scrub away the softened skin using a foot file, pumice stone, or sponge.
While this form of foot therapy has helped many users in treating cracked heels, there is little to no scientific evidence to verify these claims.
Proper Foot Care to Treat and Prevent Cracked Heels
Several simple measures can be taken to keep your feet skin hydrated and thereby prevent cracked heels. The following self-care measures can help prevent and heal cracked heels:
1. Wear suitable shoes or boots
Shoes with solid heel counters at the rear help in protecting the heel. Open-heeled shoes should be avoided.
2. Use padded socks
Use fitted, padded, cotton socks with non-slip outsoles. Wear any orthotics or insoles prescribed by your doctor.
3. Immerse your feet in warm water for a few minutes
Fill a bucket, basin, or foot spa with warm water and dip your feet in it. This treatment softens the dry skin of the feet for easy exfoliation and also relieves the pain to a certain degree.
You can also add essential oils, Epsom salts, or mild cleansers to the foot bath for a soothing effect. Avoid using soaps as they can cause further dryness.
4. Scrub your feet
Use a pumice stone to exfoliate the dead skin on your heels regularly.
5. Moisturize regularly
It is vital to apply moisturizing creams to your heel, especially if you have dry skin. (3) Applying an oil-based moisturizer or heel balm twice a day, especially in the morning, helps maintain the skin elasticity on your heel and therefore prevent cracks.
6. Moisturize your feet with petroleum jelly
Petroleum jelly is one of the best hydrating agents that can penetrate through the thick and rough skin of your feet.
Petroleum jelly is 170 times more resistant to water vapor loss than olive oil, which makes it ideal for locking in the moisture of your feet skin. (4)
7. Avoid winter dryness
Avoid direct exposure to the cold with shoes and socks. Moisturize your heels and soles multiple times a day, especially before going out.
8. Maintain a healthy weight
Excessive pressure on the heels due to an overweight body is one of the most common causes of cracked heels.
9. Stay hydrated
Consume ample amounts of liquids throughout the day to prevent dryness.
10. Dress the open cracks
This is necessary to avoid infection. You may first apply a gel, spray, or liquid to help alleviate the pain and promote healing.
11. Consume a healthy diet
Often, persistent fissures result from a lack of nutrients in the body. Therefore, consuming a well-balanced diet consisting of vitamins A, B6, and C is essential for preventing cracks and healing them.
Moreover, consuming omega-3 fatty acids and zinc through foods such as salmon, soybean, flaxseeds, avocado, and tofu can be beneficial.
12. People with diabetes need to monitor their feet regularly
Consult your doctor or podiatrist the minute you notice any sign of foot injury or heel fissure for early treatment, or else it can turn severely infected.
13. Visit a dermatologist or podiatrist
A doctor can advise you on the best way to take care of your cracked heels and suggest methods to improve circulation to the feet, which will expedite healing.
The doctor will also identify the cause of the problem and help you prevent a recurrence.
Note: It is highly advised that people with diabetes or neuropathy should avoid the use of pumice stones, scissors, or razors on their feet to help prevent infections. Instead, they should visit a dermatologist or podiatrist if they experience dry or cracked heels.
Most-Asked Questions About Cracked Heels
Does a vitamin deficiency lead to cracked heels?
Micronutrients, such as minerals and vitamins, are integral parts of the skin structure and also play roles in several biological functions. (5)
A lack of macronutrients or micronutrients, including vitamins, can result in various dermatological conditions, including cracked heels.
Can vegetable oils be used for the treatment of cracked heels?
Coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil, or other hydrogenated vegetable oils have been found useful in the treatment of skin problems and restoration of cutaneous homeostasis. (6)
Cracked heels are most common in poorly looked-after feet but can also develop due to a variety of other reasons. The deeper the fissures, the greater the discomfort, and the longer they will take to heal.
Follow the guidelines and tips mentioned in this article to prevent and repair cracked heels in their early stages.