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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.
Honey is a natural humectant that imparts moisture to the skin and locks it in to prolong the hydrating effect. Moreover, this viscous liquid is credited with 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. Shea butter
Yet another home cure for cracked heels that has gained considerable traction on the internet is shea butter.
This easily available ingredient is good for deeply moisturizing the rough, broken skin of your heels, but further studies are needed to establish its efficacy.
You have to stick with this remedy in the long-term for it to have its desired effect, rather than expecting drastic improvement with just a few applications.
How to use:
Apply a small amount of shea butter all over your cracked heels, and then rest your feet until the moisturizer seeps deep into the skin.
It is convenient to use this remedy before bedtime when you are naturally required to keep your feet off the ground throughout the night. Regular moisturizing with shea butter can help repair your rough, broken skin overtime.
Bananas are mostly hailed as a nutritious treat, but they have topical benefits as well. This best-selling fruit has been externally used for repairing cracked heels, thanks to its moisturizing effects.
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.
Although many users have benefitted from using this remedy regularly, there aren’t enough scientific studies to substantiate its healing effect.
4. Rice flour
Rice flour has been widely recommended as an exfoliating agent for cracked heels, with many general users reporting good results. The tiny granules of rice flour gently scrub away the dry, flaky skin without aggravating the fissures.
The removal of the dead, damaged layers thoroughly cleanses the skin by getting rid of deep-seated impurities and speeds up skin regeneration. Moreover, rice flour may also help impart lost minerals for healthier skin.
Given that exfoliation can often strip away your skin’s moisture and render it even drier than before, it’s best if you mix the rice flour with some hydrating liquid like honey.
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.
While this remedy has earned a lot of acclaim on internet forums and in the lay community, it lacks scientific support.
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 is a widely used ingredient in various skincare products that attests to its dermatological benefits. As far as cracked heels are concerned, you can use it both as gentle scrubs as well as a soothing lotion containing colloidal oatmeal extracts.
6. 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 inside a tub or a bucket, such that your feet can become completely submerged in it.
- 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.
- The removal of the rough and dry skin will instantly make your heels soft and smooth while accelerating the process of skin renewal.
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.
Delayed treatment can cause the fissures to deepen, leading to a lot of pain and even bleeding, which are beyond the scope of self-treatment. In such a case, you may require medical assistance to repair your punctured skin.
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. Wear padded socks
Use fitted padded socks with non-slip outsoles. Wear any orthotics or insoles prescribed by your doctor.
3. Immerse your feet in soapy water for a few minutes
Fill a bucket, basin, or foot spa with warm water, just enough to cover your feet up to the ankles. Check the temperature of the water to make sure it is not too hot but comfortably warm, and then 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.
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)
6. Use heel balms
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.
7. Moisturize your feet with petroleum jelly
Petroleum jelly is generally not used as a cosmetic moisturizer because of its intense greasiness. However, it is still 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)
8. 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.
9. Maintain a healthy weight
Excessive pressure on the heels due to an overweight body is one of the most common causes of cracked heels.
10. Stay hydrated
Consume ample amounts of liquids throughout the day to prevent dryness.
11. Use orthotic devices
When used properly, these devices allow even distribution of body weight, therefore relieving pressure on the heels. These orthotic devices include heel pads and insoles.
12. Dress the open cracks
This is necessary to avoid infection.
13. Consume a healthy diet
Often, persistent fissures result from a lack of nutrients in the body.
14. 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.
15. Visit a dermatologist or podiatrist
A doctor can advise you on the best way to take care of your cracked heels. The doctor will also identify the cause of the problem and help you prevent a recurrence.
The doctor may also suggest methods to improve circulation to the feet, which will expedite healing.
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. The doctor will remove skin debris and suggest treatments, such as gait adjustment or special shoes to relieve pressure on the heels.
What People Ask the Most 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.
It may also cause dry and dull skin along with signs of premature skin aging or lead to skin barrier issues.
Can vegetable oils be used for the treatment of cracked heels?
However, the effect of the topical application of the oil varies with its components, which may provide synergistic effects. (6)
Although preliminary studies show the usefulness of vegetable oils in some skin conditions, evidence in their use for cracked heels is lacking. (7)(8) They may be used for moisturizing the skin but do not offer a cure to the problem.
Cracked heels are most common in poorly looked-after feet but can also develop due to a variety of other reasons.
In any case, regular podiatric care is extremely important to keep your feet in the best of condition. If cracks do appear, treat them as soon as possible to keep them from getting worse.
The deeper the fissures, the greater the discomfort, and the longer they will take to heal. Moreover, deep cracks are also more likely to get infected, especially in people with diabetes.
Follow the guidelines and tips mentioned in this article to prevent and repair cracked heels in their early stages.