Cracked heels, known medically as heel fissures, can certainly be unsightly. While they are a very common skin condition, in advanced stages they can cause a large amount of pain, making walking or standing very difficult. If the fissures are deep enough, bleeding can occur and infection is possible. For diabetics, people with poor circulation or compromised immune systems, this can be a very serious situation.
Heels crack because the skin on the feet is too dry to support the pressure of the body’s weight. Some primary causes are: weather extremes (both heat and cold cause dry skin), dehydration from inadequate water consumption, walking barefoot outside on rough surfaces like wooden decks or asphalt, standing in damp areas for long periods of time and wearing open-backed sandals. Often medical conditions like hypothyroidism can lead to cracked skin on the feet.
Fortunately, there are some very easy and inexpensive ways to treat your troubled feet. The chances are good that you already have most of the ingredients for these top home remedies for cracked heels in your home right now.
Honey is an excellent treatment for cracked heels because it is a humectant that seals in moisture. Honey also has antibacterial properties that help prevent infection in deep cracks. Slather a half-cup of slightly warmed honey over both feet and allow it to suck moisture into your skin, repairing the cracks and softening the dry heels. Massage your feet and rinse with warm water after 30 minutes. Sleep with it on your feet for extra moisturizing.
Coconut oil is one of the best oils for skin care. It is both an exfoliator and a hydrating, miracle moisturizer that retains water on the skin’s surface. Coconut oil can also penetrate the skin and help to strengthen the tissues underneath. Apply a spoonful of oil to both feet. It is very concentrated so you do not need much. Applying before bed and wrapping the feet in plastic and clean socks overnight will allow the oil to fully penetrate the skin.
Lemon juice contains acetic acid which makes it a great exfoliator and very effective in sloughing off dead skin cells. You can squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon into a warm water foot bath or directly rub each heel with a half lemon, massaging and exfoliating as you go.
Super Foot Soaks
There are few things more relaxing than a warm foot soak. Pampering your cracked heels with healing household staples can be as easy as opening your kitchen or bathroom cupboards. Three commonly found items that make excellent bath potions and offer easy and inexpensive cracked heels solutions are:
- Epsom salt
As Livestrong reminds us, Epsom salts are miracle minerals. A warm bath with a cup or two of salt relieves muscle pain and stiffness, detoxifies the body, and softens the skin.
- Baking soda
Sodium bicarbonate is a great skin-softening agent. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to moderately hot water and soak dry skin away.
- White Vinegar
Like lemon juice, white vinegar has acetic acid in it, a gentle skin exfoliator. Start with a half-cup of white vinegar to test tolerance, noticing any irritation or pain if your fissures are deep and discontinuing use.
Dry your feet completely after every soak and remove dead skin with a pumice stone. Apply a moisturizer, put on your socks, and put your deserving feet up for the night!
While these home remedies have proven to be effective with some, others may not experience the benefits or long term relief from their cracked heels symptoms. Ultimately, finding a good moisturizer that focuses on skin barrier optimization will be your best defense against combating dry, cracked heels. Be mindful of labels and avoid products that utilize: sulfates, gluten, oats, fragrances, dyes and certain oils such as: avocado, olive and sunflower.