We tend to neglect our feet so it’s no surprise that both men and women all over the world suffer from calluses, foot problems and especially cracked heels. You may not realize it, but in your lifetime you will walk 1000’s of miles.
Every time you take a step, your weight comes down on your heels, so it stands to reason that if you do not take good care of your feet and heels you are bound to have some serious wear and tear eventually.
Podiatrists call splits or cracks in the heels “fissures”. These are especially troublesome in hot, dry climates and when sandals are worn continuously. Older people are particularly troubled by heel fissures due to problems caring for the feet and many years of natural wear and tear.
Calluses on the heels and cracked heels can be very painful. If the crack is deep enough, your heels may bleed, and sensitive, deep skin structures may experience a great deal of pain. Fortunately, the causes of cracked heels are very controllable.
There are number of different reasons for developing cracked heels. Among them are:
- Skin conditions such as and hydrolysis, psoriasis and eczema
- Some types of medication cause general skin dryness
- A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids and/or zinc
- Being on your feet for extended periods of time
- Always wearing open back shoes
- Lack of vitamins and minerals
- Wearing unsuitable footwear
- Being overweight
- Having diabetes
- Dry climate
Your daily routine can also contribute to the development of fissures in the heels. If you are on your feet a great deal and don’t provide your feet with protection and proper care, you can expect the skin of your heels to dry, split and crack.
What Can You Do About Cracked Heels?
It is best to start treatment of cracked heels before symptoms begin. If you notice the skin of your heels itching, peeling or flaking you should get started hydrating and caring for your skin properly right away. By doing so you may be able to avoid the development of cracked heels.
If you already have cracked heels, don’t despair. There are many things that you can do to help alleviate this problem. Here is a collection of both organic and inorganic home remedies for you to try.
Soak Your Feet
Begin by making sure to keep your feet clean. If you have cracked, bleeding heels, give your feet a nice soak every day. You can purchase a foot spa, or you can simply use a basin. Here are basic instructions for good foot soak:
Use enough water of a comfortably warm temperature to cover your feet to the ankles in a foot spa or basin. Add a tablespoon of salt (this can be plain salt or Epsom salt). If you like, you can add some essential oils such as lavender for aromatherapy and relaxation and/or tea tree oil for its antiseptic and antifungal properties.
Approximately 20 drops of essential oils total should be an effective amount; however, you can adjust this as you wish.
4 Great Soak Recipes
#1 – Lemon Juice or Vinegar: Soaking your feet in pure lemon juice, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar is also a possibility one time weekly. The acidity helps break down dead, dry skin for easier removal. This is also an excellent treatment for athlete’s foot.
#2- Lemon, Rosewater & Glycerin: Lemon juice can be used in combination with other soothing, healing ingredients. You can create a healing foot soak for yourself by combining rosewater, glycerin, salt and lemon juice.
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of rosewater
- 1 teaspoon of pure glycerin
Soak and treat your feet as usual.
#3 – Honey: You can add honey to a foot soak for excellent moisturizing and nourishing properties. Honey has natural antibacterial qualities and is well-known for helping with burn healing and other types of healing. Add half a cup of honey to a basin of comfortably warm water and enjoy a 15 or 20 minutes soak.
There are many other pleasant and effective recipes available for callus fighting foot soaks. If you are just soaking your feet in a basin, you can feel free to experiment with any and all. If you are using an electric foot spa, be sure to check manufacturer’s instructions to make certain all of the ingredients you use are safe for the machine.
#4 – Turmeric and Neem Oil Foot Mask: Neem oil also called margosa with its anti-fungal properties can help prevent cracked heels from becoming infected.
- Mix a few drops of Neem oil with 3 teaspoons of turmeric powder to create a paste.
- Massage the paste into the cracked heels
- Leave the mixture on to soak in for approximately 30 minutes.
- Rinse the paste off using warm water and towel dry.
- Repeat the process daily until you no longer have cracked heels.
2 Recipes To Exfoliate Dry, Dead Skin
If your heels are not painfully cracked, you can exfoliate with a pumice stone at the end of your soak. Avoid using a blade on your calluses and hard skin on your feet because it is very easy to cut too deep and injure yourself very badly. You can also make scrubs to use as a gentler way of exfoliating dead, dry skin.
#1 – Rice Scrub: You can create an excellent exfoliating scrub using ground rice. Simply grind up about 3 tablespoons of rice in your blender and pour it out into a small bowl. Add a little bit of honey and little bit of apple cider vinegar to create a paste. You can also add almond oil like this, olive oil or coconut oil if your heels are in need of intensive moisturizing. Apply this paste directly to your dry, cracked heels, massage it in and put your feet up for 10-15 minutes to allow it to work on your dry skin. Rinse with cool water.
#2 – Oatmeal Scrub: Another good exfoliating foot mask can be made using ground oatmeal and jojoba oil. Grind up a tablespoon of oatmeal in your blender, pour it into a bowl and add jojoba oil to create a thick paste. Massage this into the damaged skin on your feet, and put your feet up for half an hour. When the time is up, rinse your feet with cool water.
Remember to do these exfoliating treatments at the end of your soak. Follow up with after soak care.
After Soak Care
After soaking your feet, be sure to dry them well with coarse terry toweling and apply a good moisturizer.
There are many good over-the-counter choices in foot moisturizers, heel balms and foot care creams. Look for products that contain a high percentage of synthetic urea. This ingredient is very effective in helping resolve dry skin problems.
Some types of foot balms that are intended especially for calloused, cracked heels include as much as 50% synthetic urea.
Generally speaking, if you establish a good habit of soaking your feet regularly, removing excess dry skin with the pumice stone and moisturizing once or twice a day you should be able to avoid cracked heels or resolve your problem in good time.
Specialized Home Remedies For Cracked Heels
To speed up the process of curing your cracked heels there are a number of special treatments you can try. Here is a collection of homemade moisturizers, salves, scrubs and masks you can experiment with. Some formulas are all natural and some contain petroleum products (petroleum jelly and/or paraffin).
Many people believe that petroleum jelly is the ultimate moisturizer for dry, cracked skin. Others are averse to using petroleum products on the skin. If you do not want to use petroleum products, you can substitute a natural oil such as olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil.
Create Your Own Deep Penetrating Foot Cream
Coconut oil is a fabulous all-around beauty treatment, and it makes a very good hard skin softener. You can create your own version of expensive wax based non-aqueous foot cream using coconut oil and a couple of other easily obtained ingredients. Here’s the recipe:
- 100 grams coconut oil
- 3 teaspoons camphor
- 3 tablespoons paraffin wax (melted)
Combine these ingredients well and apply the resulting cream to the dry skin of your feet at bedtime. Put on a pair of cotton socks that you don’t mind ruining and go to bed. You’ll find your hard skin much softer in the morning. It’s best to do this when you can take your time upon arising to soak your feet, use a pumice stone and moisturize.
Try A Paraffin Treatment
If you have very painful, cracked heels you may wish to give yourself a paraffin wax treatment. Paraffin wax is a petroleum product, so you will probably want to avoid using it frequently; however creating a treatment containing paraffin wax, coconut oil or mustard oil is an excellent way to address severe cracked heels. To do this, follow package instructions for melting paraffin wax and add coconut oil or mustard oil to your liking. Generally speaking, 6 drops of oil to a teaspoon of the carrier material (in this case paraffin) is a good ratio. Apply the mixture directly to cracked heels and don a pair of socks at bedtime.
Masks For Your Feet
You can create masks for your feet just as you can for your face, and the recipes are surprisingly similar. Bananas, avocado, strawberries and natural oils all play important roles in creating nourishing heel masks. You can use a mask before or after soaking. If you use it before soaking, be sure to rinse your feet and dry them before applying the mask. If you use your mask after soaking, be sure to follow up with thorough after soak treatment.
Here are 2 Good Recipes:
#1 – Mashed Banana: Use a mashed, ripe banana as a heel mask. This is very easy. Simply mash a very ripe banana and spread the pulp over your cracked heels.
Put your feet up for 10 minutes and allow the mashed banana to dry. Rinse it off with warm water. To give your banana foot mask extra “oomph”, add some ripe avocado. Both banana and avocado have strong moisturizing properties.
#2 – Strawberries, Salt & Oil: A combination of strawberries, salt and almond or olive oil is also a very good treatment for cracked heels. You will need very ripe, soft strawberries to create this mixture.
Crush half a dozen very ripe strawberries with a couple of tablespoons of olive or almond oil. Add a teaspoon of sea salt or table salt. Massage the mixture into to your cracked heels and put your feet up for 15 minutes. Rinse, dry and moisturize as usual.
Natural Moisturizers For Your Feet
Many all-natural oils are excellent moisturizers for your feet and all over. Among them are:
- Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- Coconut oil
- Almond oil
- Sesame oil
- Jojoba oil
These are all very nourishing and healthful oils that make excellent carrier oils for more concentrated and beneficial ingredients such as:
- Argan oil for extra healing
- Tea Tree oil for antiseptic properties
- Vitamin E oil for extra skin nourishment
- Lavender oil for antifungal and soothing properties
No matter what type or combination of oil you choose, be sure to massage it into the skin deeply. Massage stimulates good circulation, and that promotes healthy skin.
Vegetable oil is a good, semi-natural alternative to petroleum jelly. It can make a good overnight moisturizer for your feet; however, realize that it is not entirely natural because commercial vegetable oil is heavily processed. If you want a pure, natural, organic oil for your feet should choose one of the oils listed above.
Home-Made Healing Foot Salves & Ointments
Super concentrated salves can be used for focused attention to the damaged areas on your heels. You may recognize this first recipe as the base for a foot soak. It also makes a nice ointment.
Rosewater, Lemon & Glycerin Ointment
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of rosewater
- 1 teaspoon of pure glycerin
Use this mixture undiluted as an overnight heel crack treatment. Apply it directly to your dry, cracked heels at bedtime. Be sure to cover with old socks to help the mixture stay in place and prevent damage to your bedding. Take time in the morning to soak your feet, use a pumice stone and moisturize as usual.
One home remedy that has proven effective is a mixture of petroleum jelly and lemon juice. This works because the acidity of lemon juice helps break down the dry skin and the petroleum jelly helps soften it. If you don’t want to use petroleum jelly, use a natural oil instead. Apply this mixture directly to heel cracks at bedtime. Cover with socks and care for your feet as directed above upon arising.
How To Use Overnight Treatments & Moisturizers
No matter what type of moisturizer, salve and/or ointment you apply to your feet before bedtime, be sure to put on a pair of socks made of a natural fabrics such as wool or cotton. Understand that the socks will soon become ruined by this treatment, so don’t use socks that you care about.
While some information will advise you to put plastic bags or saran wrap around your feet, this is something you definitely should not do. Wrapping your feet in saran wrap or putting plastic bags over them is an excellent way to give yourself athlete’s foot.
Generally speaking, avoid putting any kind of synthetic material against your skin. Instead, opt for natural fabrics such as wool or cotton that help the moisturizer soak in and allow your skin to breathe.
TIP: Keep a collection of mismatched socks to use with your super-concentrated overnight foot treatments and moisturizers. They will help your treatment stay in place and protect your bedding. You can use them one or two times and then discard them.
Establish Good Health Habits For Healthy Feet
While many people may think of cracked heels as simply being ugly, the fact is they are not only ugly they are dangerous. When cracks in your heels become very deep, they can be excruciatingly painful. Additionally they can become badly infected and cause serious complications.
That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of this problem, ideally before it becomes a problem. Even if your feet are currently perfect and lovely, be sure to develop a good habit of moisturizing them morning and evening. Having a foot soak at least couple of times a week followed by home pedicure is an excellent idea.
Assemble a good collection of pedicure equipment that includes a pumice stone, a massager and nail clippers that are sharp enough to remove excess nails quickly and easily. Avoid cutting calluses on your feet. This can be quite dangerous and cause lots of problems.
Remember that it’s also necessary to eat in a way that nourishes your skin. It’s all good and well to slather moisturizing and nourishing things on your feet; however, if your diet is lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron and calcium you will be fighting an uphill battle. Be sure to eat a properly balanced diet and take a good quality multivitamin every day.
Good personal care habits and a properly balanced diet will surely overcome most cases of cracked heels given time. If your problem is especially painful or persists despite all your good efforts, you should see your podiatrist. A podiatrist can give you a good foot treatment, remove excess dead skin and set you on the right path to excellent foot care.