12/05/2022 / Beauty, Skin and Hair

Cracked Heels: Overview, Causes, Prevention, Natural & home Remedies

Cracked heels refer to a situation in which there is an occurrence of crack/fissure in the skin of the heel which is abnormally hard and dry. These mainly occur in the cracked ankle skin or cracked soles of feet

Cracked Heels: Overview, Causes, Prevention, Natural & home Remedies
Aastha MahapatraAastha Mahapatra

Aastha Mahapatra

M.Pharm, Research Associate

Table of Content

Introduction

Cracked heel is a common problem that occurs due to the presence of fissure /crack in the heels due to abnormally hard and dry skin. In terms of British English cracked heels are also called scratches. It is also termed as mud fever in some cases. It is a common condition which is not harmful and can be treated. Some untreated cracked heels are termed as painful heel cracks as these cracks get deepened due to receiving no proper foot crack treatment. Some of these cracked heels run very deep and cause unwanted pain. Some normal cracked heels cause pain when the person is walking barefoot. This condition of cracked heels may be unsightly but these do not cause any serious harm. Although, on occasion if not treated properly these heels may cause skin infection called cellulitis. This blog will give a descriptive insight about the cause, method of prevention and natural remedies that help in the healing of cracked heels. 

Causes of cracked heels

The starting point of cracked heels is when the skin around the ankle starts to become dry, thick and hard. The fat pad around the heel may cause the dry and thick skin to form cracks or heel fissures.

Heel fissures can be more likely to develop due to:

Causes of cracked heels
  • Wearing of open heel footwears like open flats, sliders or sandals. 

  • Taking extremely hot baths or showers that may lead to the breaking of ankle skin.

  • Having a cold and dry skin which might crack easily on exposure to rough external environment.

  • Using extremely harsh soaps on the ankle skin. 

  • Having a job or situation where you have to stand for long periods is also a reason to have heel fissures.

Some medical conditions that might be the reason for cracked heels are:

Causes of cracked heels
  • Obesity: Having this condition means being extremely overweight which falls on the skin of the ankle leading to its cracking. 

  • Diabetes: People with diabetes commonly have heel fissures because this disease leads to damaging of the nerve of the feet. As a result, the feet are not able to sweat and provide moisture to themselves. This leads to dry skin and cracked heels.

  • Eczema: Conditions like eczema and psoriasis may lead to heel fissures. This condition is not only for cracked heels but also for cracks in other parts of the body.

  • Hypothyroidism: The condition in which the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones is called hypothyroidism. Due to less secretion of the hormone, there is an occurrence of heel fissure.

  • Juvenile plantar dermatosis, is a skin condition in young children.

  • Having flat heels is also a reason to develop heel fissures.

  • Sjogren’s syndrome: It is a condition in which the body does not produce enough moisture.

  • A fungal infection called athlete’s foot is also a reason for the occurrence of cracked heels.

  • Bone protrusions in the bottom of the heel called heel spurs are also the reasons for the occurrence of cracked heels.

How to prevent the occurrence of cracked heels?

Cracked heels are not a serious issue if treated properly on time. Here are some methods/ precautionary measures in order to prevent the occurrence of cracked heels at all:

  • Proper and continuous use of heel balms and thick moisturizers. This will help in regular and continued healing of painful heel cracks. These balms have content that moisturize, exfoliate and soften the skin. Some of these ingredients in the balm are urea, salicylic acid , saccharide isomerate and alpha-hydroxy acid.

  • On application to cracked heels the balm may cause minute stinging and irritation. 

  • In case of severe cracked heels prescription-based balms may be required along with steroid cream which help reduce inflammation and relieve itching. 

  • Soaking and exfoliation of your feet: Foot soaking and proper exfoliation along with a good amount of moisturization can help the heel fissure cure. 

  • Easiest method to treat cracked heels is to apply petroleum jelly in order to lock in the moisture.

  • Liquid bandage can be applied to the cracks in order to seal the crack from further worsening. 

  • Honey:  Honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which helps in the healing of dry heels in order to prevent painful heel cracks.

  • Coconut oil: It is mainly recommended for dry skin eczema and psoriasis. 

Natural and home remedies for cracked heels

This section of the blog discusses some natural cure or home remedies about how to heal cracked heels/dry heel/heel fissures.

Natural and home remedies for dry
  • Soaking of feet once a week : A simple foot soak done once a week followed by rich moisturization keeps the feet nourished. 

  • Coconut oil for cracked feet is the oldest and the most used natural remedy. This method helps in healing of dry cracked feet with cuts.

  • In order to remove the dead skin cells which might be the cause of cracked heels a pumice stone can be used. This is not done regularly but is mandatory occasionally for healing of cracked heels.

  • Use petroleum jelly: This helps in reducing the cracks of the heels and helps to heal. This is the easiest way to cure cracked heels. A regular use of petroleum jelly may even prevent the occurrence of cracked heels. 

  • Shea butter can be used as it has the natural pH as skin and can be easily absorbed. This ingredient can be found in most of the skin healing creams. 

  • Treating the vitamin deficiencies that cause cracked heels. Lack of vitamins B , C , E and some minerals lead to formation of cracked heels. Taking supplements for these vitamins may help in reduction of the occurrence of cracked heels.

  • Wear proper footwear that covers the heels.

  • Use urea swathed creams. 

  • Get used to daily moisturization of the feet.

Take-home point 

  • Cracked heels is not a big deal and can be sorted by following the preventative measures. 

  • There should be regimen daily in order to take care of the cracks present on the dry heels.

  • Proper moisturization and foot wear is the key to crack free heels.


FAQ on Cracked Heels

1. Do we get worse cracked heels even in cold weather?

Ans. Yes, cracked heels or dry heels tend to get worse in the winter season than in the summer season. It is because of low humidity and the dry climate of the season in this season regular use of coconut oil for cracked heels is recommended. 

2. Is Vaseline good for cracked heels?

Ans. Yes, it is the go-to remedy for cracked heels. Dry heels need to be moisturized properly and Vaseline does just that. It is also a good source of foot crack treatment.

3. Whom should I see if I get worse heel cracks or heel fissures?

Ans. You should visit a chiropodist in case of any kind of foot treatment.

4. When should I see a chiropodist for cracked heels?

Ans. You should see a chiropodist or foot specialist for cracked heels when the callouses get really thick and cannot be self-managed by moisturization or foot filing. 

5. What are the best moisturizers for cracked heels?

Ans. The urea-based moisturizers are the best for cracked heels. Urea is an organic compound that works in retaining the humidity and keratin content of the skin. In case of cracked ankle skin and cracked soles of feet it is the go-to remedy. The moisturizers in use should have at least 10-20% of urea content in order to act as heel crack cure cream.

6. What are the cracked heels a sign of?

Ans. Cracked heels are a sign of skin dehydration and excess tensile stress on the heels. Sometimes these cracks can get worse and turn into dry cracked feet with cuts. In simple words when the loads on the heel increases the skin is not able to withstand this pressure and will start tearing. This will occur more if the skin is calloused and dry. 

7. What is the fastest way to treat cracked heels?

Ans. Moisturizing the cracked heels at least twice a day is the fastest method to treat the cracked heels. Thick moisturizers and skin softening agents can be used for this purpose. Some creams that remove the dead skin cells can also be used.

8. Can cracked heels be cured?

Ans. Yes, if followed a proper regimen and taken care properly these cracked heels can be cured.

9. What does having cracked heels say about your health?

Ans. Cracked heels is a normal condition and in most of the cases it does not say anything about any underlying disorder


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