Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Gopika Suresh (Journalist) on 07th Oct 2020
Cracked Heels Cracking Your Confidence? We Have Solutions
What are cracked heels?
As winter approaches, our skin and body begin to act differently. It is essential to look after the skin on your face and body as well as your feet. During this season, several people suffer from cracked heels.
The findings of a survey stated that twenty percent of adults experience cracked feet in the United States. It has the possibility of occurring in both children and adults. However, women are usually more affected than men. It can happen in both adults & children and seems to affect women more often than men.
For most people, cracked heels aren't too serious. It may cause some discomfort while walking barefoot; however, there is no need to be scared. But, in some people, cracks on the feet can be intense and cause a lot of pain. Keep reading to know why cracked heels form and how to prevent and treat them.
Non-medical causes of cracked heels
Having dry areas of thick skin called calluses is one of the first signs of cracked heels. They can be found around the rim of your feet. The pad of fat under your heels expands as you walk.
Some other factors contribute to cracked heels, such as standing for a long time. Taking long showers in hot water and walking around barefoot can sometimes cause dry heels as well. Make sure you wear your shoes that fit correctly. Cracked heels may be caused due to low humidity too. It is essential to moisturize your feet well; otherwise, they may dry out.
In some cases, dry skin may be caused due to elevated blood sugar levels and poor blood circulation. Most people who have diabetes face these issues. Other conditions, such as deficiency in vitamins, could also lead to cracked heels.
Vitamin deficiencies and cracked heels
It is a famous saying that your skin and hair is a reflection of your health. You may be using the best products, but if you don't provide your body essential nutrients and minerals, it will show signs. So, it is vital to consume the three given below vitamins in adequate amounts to ensure that you have well-nourished skin.
Vitamin E is a fantastic antioxidant that keeps your skin robust. According to a study, vitamin E, when consumed, can reduce aging on the skin. Moreover, it is linked to collagen production and lowering the drying effect age can have on one's skin. As we mentioned earlier, dry skin causes heels to crack; so you have a lower risk of that if you consume enough vitamin E.
Foods rich in vitamin E
Make sure you intake oils like sunflower oil and its seeds, nuts such as pine nuts and almonds, fruits like mango and avocado. Fish is a fantastic source of vitamin E as well, in specific, salmon.
Vitamin B-3 is often known as niacin and plays an important role. Without adequate amounts of it, the energy in the food you take will not be converted into energy for the body. It is also an antioxidant that fights the free radicals present in the body that could cause harm.
1) Pellagra and its symptoms
The deficiency of vitamin B-3 may give rise to pellagra in some people. It causes scaly and dry skin in part of the body, including the heels. Other symptoms of pellagra include
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain
Remember that pellagra first tends to affect those body parts that are subjected to sun damage. So, unless your heels are regularly exposed to sunlight, pellagra will not affect them first.
2) Foods rich in vitamin B-3
Some good sources of B-3 include:
- poultry such as chicken breast and turkey
- ground beef and beef liver
- seafood such as tuna, salmon, and anchovies
- brown rice
3) Symptoms that accompany cracked heels
Along with cracked heels, some may experience the following things.
- flaky skin
- pain, possibly severe
- red, inflamed skin
Vitamin C is often called -ascorbic acid. It, too, is an antioxidant that protects the skin. According to a study, vitamin C comprises collages that make up 75 percent of the skin's dermic portion. Most of us today are exposed to environmental damage, so vitamin C is an excellent protection form.
Research suggests that vitamin C tends to be lower in those who are aged or whose skin is sun-damaged. It helps the skin retain moisture on your heels too. Thus, it safeguards your heels.
Vitamin C Deficiency can lead to Scurvy:
1) Scurvy and its symptoms
If you have vitamin C deficiency (called scurvy), you will find several effects on your skin. Such as,
- easy getting bruised
- scaly, dry skin
- prolonged healing of wounds
- cracking, dry hair
- bleeding around hair follicles or on the skin
2) Foods rich in vitamin C
To suffer from vitamin C deficiency, you have to consume less than 10 milligrams of vitamin C per day. This must happen for weeks to months for a lack to show.
Good dietary sources of vitamin C include:
- red and green peppers
- Brussels sprouts
3) Complications from cracked heels
Although cracked heels are usually harmless, in some cases, they can cause serious complications such as
- a loss of feeling in your heel
- cellulitis, an infection
- diabetic foot ulcer
Symptoms of infection from cracked heels include swelling, redness, and warmth. If you see/notice any signs, call a doctor right away.
How to prevent cracked heels
You must know that footwear and your feet are connected. So along with looking for shoes that look good, make sure they are comfortable. Look for wide heels that you won't bring discomfort while wearing.
1. Home treatments for cracked heels
Heel balms or thick moisturizers
Make use of a heel balm to treat cracked heels first. They contain ingredients that soften, moisturize, and exfoliate dead skin on your heels. When picking a heel balm, look for the following components.
- salicylic acid
- alpha-hydroxy acids
- saccharide isomerate
Soak and exfoliate your feet
The skin on your cracked heels is much thicker than that of the rest of your body. So, it tends sometimes to split when pressure is applied. Moisturising and soaking may help you get relief from this. Here are some tips on how you could do that.
For a foot soak:
- Soak your feet in warm (lukewarm) and soapy water for about 20 minutes.
- Using a loofah, pumice stone, or a foot scrubber, try and remove the hard skin on your heels.
- Next, pat dry your feet.
- Apply a heel balm of your choice or a moisturizer on the affected areas.
- For some extra lock of moisture, apply petroleum jelly. Since it is greasy, you may wear socks, so it doesn't get messy.
Never scrub your feet when dry. It will increase the risk of damage to the already damaged skin on your heels.
You could also use moisture heel sleeves if you wish, which are similar to foot soaks. They are socks that are made of oil moisturizing oils that help nourish your heels.
You may also use liquid bandages to seal any wounds and prevent further cracking. It usually comes as a spray, so you don't have to worry about the product coming off. If you have deep cuts on your heels that bleed, liquid bandages may work well for you. Make sure to apply it on dry, clean skin.
If you are looking for a natural remedy to get rid of cracked heels, you must try out honey. In 2012, a study reported that honey is antibacterial and antimicrobial. Along with that, it moisturizes skin and cleans and heals wounds. After your foot soaks, you may use honey as a scrub, or you could apply it overnight.
Most experts recommend coconut oil for those suffering from dry skin, psoriasis, and eczema. It helps the skin to lock moisture. Like honey, using coconut oil after your foot soak can be an adequate remedy. It, too, has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that are good for your heels if they are prone to bleeding and infection.
Other natural remedies
There are thousands of home remedies that you could use on your feet. However, none of them are made explicitly for cracked heels. Instead, they work on moisturizing and nourishing your whole foot. A few others are :
- vinegar, while doing a foot soak
- olive or vegetable oil, as a moisturizer
- shea butter, as a moisturizer
- mashed bananas, to moisturize
- paraffin wax, to lock the moisture on your feet
- You could exfoliate your feet with oatmeal mixed with oil
Minimalist tips for treating cracked heels
- Make sure to apply heel balm to your heels every morning before you start your day. This improves elasticity.
- Remember to moisturize your feet twice to thrice a day.
- Try and wear shoes as much as possible, even when indoors. It will protect your heels.
You may notice that some heel balms could cause some irritation. However, this is normal. If you continue to face any severe reactions, consult a doctor. In some persons with intense cracked heels, prescription balms may be required (sometimes, even steroid creams) to reduce the itching and inflammation.
As a disclaimer, never treat cracked heels by yourself if caused due to a disease you suffer from. In such cases, you must not intervene, and consultation from a foot doctor is essential. Regardless of your medical history, if your heels show intense cracks and damage, you must get expert consultation.