Cracked heels are a sign of lack of attention to foot care rather than just overexposure or lack of moisturizing. Medically, cracked heels are also known as heel fissures. Fissures are regular linear cut wounds and mostly affect the surface level which comprises of the epidermis. Sometimes it may get deep into the dermis and become painful. Excessive pressure on the feet pads make the feet want to expand sideways. As the skin, surrounding the sides of the feet are dry they crack and cause cracked heels. Appearances of cracked heels also indicate zinc and omega-3 fatty acid deficiency.
Though cracks in the skin may arise anywhere in the body the most common is area is the rim of the heel and web of toes, which happen to be the most frequently or constantly used parts of our body. Dry skin or xerosis is one of the most common causes that lead to cracked heels .The other key reason being thick or callus skin around the rim of the heel. Most of the foot problems arise due to neglect and oversight with regard to feet care. Cracked feet, corns and other common feet ailments can be attended to and are easily avoidable.
Cracked heels are not a harmful in anyway except when the fissures or cracks are deep, and tend to become painful and the skin begins to bleed. This could lead to infection and is an avoidable situation mostly for those already suffering from chronic ailments such as diabetes or lowering immune system due to age or illness which may retard the treatment of cracked heels.
Cracked heels are a common occurrence for senior citizens or people who are constantly on their feet thus exerting pressure on the feet pad. It can affect either both the heels or one of the heel. But most commonly, cracked heels affect both the feet.
Symptoms for Cracked Heels
Most common symptoms of dry, cracked heels and feet
Signs and symptoms that surface on the skin are simple indicators of a faulty internal activity or an external abuse. If one observes the body and its manifestations minutely one can avoid disease and disorders by treating them before they take on a destructive path. Similarly, feet care calls for a little attention and when the feet finds it lacking they indicate the following signs to show the feet could do well with some care.
The most common symptoms of dry, cracked heels and feet include:
-Red or flaky patches
-Peeling and cracked skin
-Bleeding or discharge from cracks
Here is a compilation of the most common causes that lead to cracked heels:
-Naturally dry skin or thick dry skin (callus) around the heel that is more likely to crack is often due to excessive feet activity.
-Prolonged standing at work or home .Hard floors may also cause cracks in the feet.
-Being overweight may increase the pressure on the normal fat pad under the heel, causing it to expand sideways and if the skin lacks flexibility the pressure on the feet lead to cracked heels.
-Back-open sandals or shoes allow the fat under the heel to expand sideways and increases the possibility of cracks on the heels.
-Disease and Disorders-Athlete’s foot, Psoriasis, Eczema, Thyroid disease, Diabetes and some other skin conditions may also cause cracked heels.
Here is a list of some other reasons that may lead to cracked heels:
-Age - Thick dry scaly skin lose elasticity with age and thus cracks have higher incidence with age.
-Ill fitting shoes, standing for a long time or change in walking posture.
-Unhygienic circumstances or conditions
-Unhealthy, dry scaly skin due to climate or diseases
-Deficiency of vitamins, minerals and zinc
Remedies for Cracked Heels
Natural cures to care for your feet and heels
Feet care is not a disorder one can be clueless about. This is also one of the reasons why people almost always neglect it. Primarily, feet care begins with some care. Home remedies have some of the best cost effective and result oriented solutions one can try and experiment with. But it is important to note that when home remedies do not cure cracked heels it is wise to take an appointment with your general physician.
Here is a compilation of the best known remedies to treat cracked heels:
-Apply any shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oil after washing the feet clean on dry and cracked areas of the feet. After applying a thick coat of shortening on the feet, wear a pair of thick socks. Leaving this application overnight can surely provide positive results in few days.
-Apply the pulp of a ripe banana on the dry or cracked area of the heel. Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse it clean.
-Soak the feet in lemon juice for about 10minutes. Follow this therapy on a weekly basis until one finds a change.
-A daily regime of cleaning and moisturizing is a good cure for dry or cracked heels. At the end of the day soak the feet in warm soapy water for about 15 minutes. Rinse feet and pat dry. Make a healing mixture comprising of: one teaspoon Vaseline and the juice of one lemon. Rub this mixture onto the cracked heels and other required areas of the feet till it is thoroughly absorbed. This can be done daily until visible results are obtained.
-A regular application of a mixture of glycerin and rosewater is known to soothe and cure cracked heels.
-Another result oriented solution is to melt paraffin wax and mix it well with little mustard oil. Apply on the dry or cracked area of the heels. Rinse it off in the morning. A continuous application for 10 to15 days can achieve desirable results.
Diet for Cracked Heels
Consume a diet rich in calcium, iron, zinc and omega-3 fats
Cracked heels are caused by deficiency of vitamins, minerals, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids. Therefore it is essential to have a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and zinc. Omega-3 fatty acids are not naturally produced by the body, therefore it has to be ingested from food or supplements.
Here is list of essential foods that one can include in a regular meal and help curb deficiencies that may cause cracked heels:
-Vitamins (Vitamin E) rich foods include: vegetable oils, green vegetables, cereals, wheat germ, whole-grain products and nuts.
-Minerals (Calcium and Iron) rich foods include :
1) Calcium: milk, cheese, yogurt, goat’s milk, fortified soya milk, mineral water, ice cream, tinned fish, juices, cereals and broccoli are excellent sources of calcium. Dairy products such as milk and yogurt are also considered as one of the best sources of calcium.
2) Iron: Meat, chicken and fish are good sources of iron. Iron is also available in cereals, eggs, vegetables and beans; however it is not as easily absorbed into the body as the iron from meat, chicken and fish.
3) Zinc rich foods include: Oysters, chicken, crab, kidney beans, yogurt, brown rice, spaghetti.
4) Omega-3 fatty acids are largely found in: Purslane herb, cold water fish, and flaxseed oil or flax seeds.
Here are some simple suggestions towards caring for the feet effortlessly:
-Keep feet clean and dirt free
-Exercise the feet regularly
-Alternate hot and cold water for a feet bath to soothe the feet
-Moisturize and exfoliate the feet whenever possible
-Avoid walking bare feet as much as possible