Explaining Cracked Heels
Cracked heels, one of the most common problems faced by a large number of women, indicates lack of attention to foot care besides mere overexposure or lack of moisturizing. In medical terms, cracked heels are referred as heel fissures. Fissures can be defined as regular linear cut wounds that generally affect the surface which includes the epidermis. In spite of the seriousness, this is the most ignored problem. Besides making your feet look ugly, cracked heels are extremely painful and gets perpetual with lack of care.
Generally, the problem transpires during summer and spring. The problem is, however, light fade and not so clear during autumn and winter. Moreover, cracked heels indicate something more than a cosmetic problem, which can take a serious form if not treated with appropriate measures. On not being treated appropriately, the fissures might get deep thus making the skin bleed accompanied with extreme pain.
Causes of Cracked Heels
Cracked heels indicate a general problem related to feet which can result from rough and dry skin. However, there are also some other underlying factors responsible for cracked heels which includes highly severe dryness on skin as the main root cause of the problem. The most general causes leading to cracked heels include:
- Ill fitted footwear
- Diseases and disorders
- Climate or environmental effect
- Wrong ways of walking
The most common targets of cracked heels include conditions like extreme dryness on skin, flat foot and obesity. Some other causes leading to cracked condition of heels include:
Cracked heels are commonly noticed to occur in senior citizens or people who are on their feet continuously thus putting extra pressure on the feet pad. Besides, sebum production drops off with growing age. This is the reason that senior citizens are more susceptible to cracked and dry heels.
Standing for longer durations of time, especially on hard floors, can be a cause for fissures and cracks on feet. Regular pressure and friction can, sooner or later, lead to open sores and cracks which can even bleed in addition to causing pain. If you have to stand for long durations of time, it should be ensured that aptly fitted shoes with adequate cushioning are worn.
When we talk of cracked heels, fashion can also be the culprit. Thin-soled and open-heeled shoes form one of the leading causes of cracked heels. The underlying fact is that wearing open-heeled shoes leads to expansion of foot thus putting extra pressure on it and making it more prone to cracking. Besides, shoes with improper fitting can also leave you susceptible to aching, cracked, and bleeding heels. Therefore, always try to select shoes which fit properly to your foot type and give room for your feet’s breathing.
In people who are overweight, even the act of standing may put extra pressure on feet. To explain further, excessive weight increases the pressure on usual fat pad beneath the heel thus leading to sideways expansion. If, in any case the skin is not flexible and supple, the pressures to “crack” increases.
Skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis can also be responsible for making the heels excessively dry. Psoriasis can result in making the skin on heels to form thick scales that are prone to cracking while standing or walking around. Eczema, on the other hand, can also make the skin on heels to scratch or crust over.
Diseases and disorders leading to cracked heels
Cracked heels may not essentially indicate any serious health issue in itself. However, the heels may also get cracked due to some diseases and disorders. The most common ones include:
This implies the thyroid gland. An underactive thyroid leads to inactive sweat glands thus leading to dry skin and further causing the heels to get cracked. Besides, it affects the metabolism rate of the body. Moreover, in case of hypothyroidism, the body develops an incapability to perspire in casually thus leading to dry skin condition. Moving further, it develops the condition of cracked heels.
Psoriasis, although mild but a chronic skin disease, is not even noticed by a majority of people. The psoriasis disease affects the skin by stimulating the growth of skin cells thus leading to formation of callous at your heels. This thick and hardened skin can further lead to cracked heels. Besides, psoriasis also features the possibility of causing joint pains in extreme cases.
Diabetes is another medical factor responsible for cracked heels. The patients suffering from diabetes face peripheral neuropathy along with a tendency of excessive thirst. An improper care regime for feet can cause callous to form faster. Besides, these are more at the risk of cracks and infections. Generally, it takes longer than any normal wound to heal up. This is because of the high content of glucose contained in the blood stream.
Fungus may be another culprit for the cracked appearance of your heels. Any indication of the existence of fungi is rendered inoperative on the foot structure and unpleasant itching in between the toes. It is, therefore, advisable not to wear slippers or shoes to others for it is the most common means of infection of the fungus occurring on feet, and thus from there to the cracked heels.
This is a common skin condition that indicates fungus infection. This is usually due to lack of proper ventilation to the feet as well as poor hygiene. However, this generally affects the toe area. Besides, the cracks more probably crop up between toes rather than cracked heel.
Symptoms of cracked heels
Cracked heels are characterized by dark, yellowing skin on the heels of the feet, callused and hard growth of skin, cracked and peeling skin accompanied with flaky patches. Some other symptoms of cracked heels include itching in toe skin and a slow growth of the skin. the skin on the external edges grows slow and unwieldy.
Soon after, these symptoms take the form of mild discomfort and pain while wearing the shoes, followed by extreme pain on entry. It is, therefore, essentially important to avoid complications with cracked heels by finding an effective treatment as soon as the initial symptoms of cracked heels are noticed.
Treatment for Cracked Heels
Avoid using metal objects or chemical pads
Try to avoid the use of any kind of metal objects or chemical pads, like skin graters or scissors, or even blades to remove the dead skin. Even the best of your efforts will come up with an uneven surface, which will only give rise to more callus formation by forming micro-overload areas. Besides, you may also risk self-injury as well as infection. The best way of treating cracked heels is to consult a podiatrist.
Avoid picking or peeling on thickened and callus skin on heels
Peeling or picking on thick and callus skin on heels may tear across layers thus resulting in uneven patches which perform the role of a haven for bacteria and further leading to worse conditions. Also, avoid attempting bathroom surgery on heel callus or cracked heels. If, in any case, cracks begin to bleed, it is advisable to use adhesive dressings or gauze to reduce pressure on heels until the time as you can consult a podiatrist.
Treat fungal infection immediately
If the problem is a result of fungal infection, try to use foot care products that contain tea tree as it is helpful in treating and preventing fungal infection. Moreover, many recent studies have proved that tea tree contains anti-viral, anti—fungal, and antiseptic properties. However, more severe infection will call for stronger topical medication.
Use a daily foot strength antiperspirant
If your skin conditions indicate your feet to be damp or moist always, it is required to apply daily foot strength antiperspirant on the soles of feet in the morning. This would be helpful in drying sufficiently thus making the dry abrasion work. However, the use of antiperspirant should be avoided if the cracks already exist. Inexorable perspiration levels show good response to medical strength antiperspirants existing on consultation with the podiatrist.
Use an effective foot cream
The urea contained in the heel balm is an essential ingredient responsible for weakening the keratin bond thus allowing the moisturizers to penetrate below the keratin levels, keeping the skin supple. Foot creams that do not include keratolytic ingredient like urea will not penetrate the outer skin heel in a satisfactory manner.
Keep skin sinuous
Any kind of gradual or generalized build up of hard skin (like resulting from walking barefoot outdoors) can be reduced with the help of regular light abrasion like with the use of a fine grit foot file or a pumice stone) housed with a regular use of a heel balm that contains urea. Try to moisturize at the day end. The reason behind this is that applying the balm in the morning could result in excessive perspiration of feet while wearing shoes.
Avoid using extremely hot water while showering or bathing
Using excessively hot water while showering or bathing can result in perspiration of feet during the process thus resulting in loss of essential moisture from the underlying layers of skin.
Treating cracked heels through Home Remedies
In addition to the aforesaid treatment options for cracked heels, there are also certain home remedies that can help with cracked and dry heels. The most common ones include;
- Apply a mixture of glycerin and rosewater on the affected area on a regular basis. This would help in soothing the heels as well as provide a fast healing.
- Apply any hydrogenated or curbing vegetable oil after washing the feet clean. This should be applied on the dry and cracked areas of the feet. After a thick coat of the oil has been applied, cover them with a pair of thick socks. Leaving this application throughout the night can undoubtedly provide assenting results in few days.
- Another home remedy to treat the cracked areas of heels includes soaking the feet in lukewarm water with a little amount of soap added to it. This would help by making the hard and tight skin on heels and soles soft.
- The heels can also be massaged with coconut oil before you go to bed at night. In the morning, scrub it thoroughly and rinse off.
- Another helpful option includes applying the pulp of a ripe banana on the cracked or dry area of heels. This application is required to be left for 10 minutes and rinse clean thereafter.
- Another effective home remedy includes application of a mixture of a teaspoon of lemon juice and Vaseline. Apply the mixture on dry and cracked areas of your heels. This remedy will prove highly beneficial.
- The dead and cracked skin on heels can be removed by rubbing pumice stone.
- Soak your feet in lemon juice for as long as 10 minutes. Following this therapy on a weekly basis until change is observed.
- Also, applying just petroleum jelly or a regular body lotion can also help cracked heels
- Applying wet paraffin wax and mixing it meticulously with a little amount of mustard oil can be applied at night and doused off in the morning.
How to Care for Cracked Heels
Besides effective treatment, proper care is also needed for cracked and dried heels to cure them and make them look better. Some important tips for care of cracked heels are mentioned below for your acquaintance. These comprise:
- Keeping the soles clean.
- Try to wear shoes which are designed to cover the whole foot, especially while moving in sandy and dirty or dusty places.
- It is advisable to wear sleepers at home for floor also contains dust particles.
- Dip your feet in warm water for approximately 10 minutes and scrub them thereafter with pumice stone. This would help in removing dead skin cells as well as keep the skin on your feet soft and healthy.
- Dry the heels well. Any kind of moisture left in cracks might prove injurious.
- Incorporate application of a good moisturizer or foot cream in your daily routine and wear a soft pair of socks. The best time to follow this procedure is before is before going to bed. The underlying fact is that the feet will be at rest and will stay away from dust thus giving time heels to get healed up.
- In winters, try to wear socks regularly as the skin gets dry thus being more susceptible to get cracked.
- Avoid wearing ill-fitted and biting shoes.
- Consult a doctor as soon as possible if the problem is a result of a disease like diabetes.
- Increase water intake and try to avoid alcohol and caffeine for these are responsible for making the skin dry thus making the conditions worse.
- Prefer wearing heel pads or heel cups if you are overweight. This would prevent the heels form expanding sideways and thus get cracked.
Tips and precautions
Although cracked heels can be treated easily through the above treatment options and home remedies, the condition of cracked heels can be avoided by following the below mentioned tips and precautions. These include;
- Avoid wearing open heeled and thin sole shoes.
- After coming home from a long day out, soak the feet alternatively in hot and cold water. You can also add some amount of salt to this water.
- Wear shoes which feature good shock absorbing soles.
To conclude with, cracked heels is a common problem which is not as difficult to be treated as it seems to be. It can be treated and also prevented by following an effective crae and hygiene regime.