Also known as heel fissures by Podiatrists, cracked heels are a condition whereby the skin around the heel margin is split.
The cracks can be exasperated by calluses or very dry skin (anhidrosis), caused by under activity of the sympathetic nervous system as in, for example diabetics. This can lead to deep fissures that may be painful and become infected if they start to bleed.
The splits occur when the surrounding skin on the heel is not supple enough to cope with the stresses and pressures put upon its during walking or standing and this shearing action inevitably causes to skin to split leading to cracked heels.
Their severity, will depend on how dehydrated skin is and whether the sufferer is overweight or pregnant, diabetic, wearing the right kind of shoe and whether they are moisturising their feet regularly.
A lack of support around the heel margin by wearing open backed footwear such as mules or flip flops can also cause problems.
The best way to prevent cracked heels it is to keep the skin flexible by using a specially formulated heel balm or other emollient which contains a percentage of synthetic urea anywhere between 10% and 25%.
Remove any hard skin from the heel area using a foot file or better still, visit your Chiropodist/Podiatrist who will debride the heels using a scalpel or drill and give you the best advice on foot creams.
If the heels particularly bad (although not infected) it is known that wrapping the feet in cling film after applying a suitable emollient or moisturiser can be very beneficial.
The cling film holds in the moisturiser allowing it to penetrate deep into the surface of the skin over many hours without subsequent evaporation or removal by bed sheets. You can also use Vaseline and bed socks if the cracks are not too deep.
Be very careful if the cracks are particularly deep and begin to bleed as the fissures may become painfully infected with bacteria or fungus. Always seek the advice of your doctor or podiatrist if this happens.
There are several natural treatments you might want to try for cracked heels as listed below:
- soak your feet in a bowl of warm water infused with the juice of two lemons
- massage your feet with coconut oil and where bed socks overnight
- make a paste of avocado, coconut and banana and apply to the cracked heel for 15 min before rinsing off.
- Rub sesame oil into the affected area and leave it on over night
So if you are suffering with painful cracked heels just make sure you moisturise them regularly. It won't only keep them feeling nice and supple, it will also leave them smelling nice!.