Ways to Fix Cracked Heels
What is a Cracked Heel?
Cracked Heels, also known as Heel Fissures, is a condition where the heel of your feet starts drying up and starts cracking. Heel Fissures can happen to anyone from adults to kids, from men to women though they are said to occur more in women than they do in men.
Cracked Heels are a common foot problem, and according to the researchers, around 20 per cent of the adult Americans experience this problem.
Is Cracked Heel an Issue?
Cracked Heels is usually not an issue, but it can cause discomfort when walking barefoot, and if not appropriately treated, the cuts can become deep and start causing pain and can sometimes even bleed when you are walking. The real problem begins when the skin gets infected. Once the skin is infected, the condition can become severe.
In case if you experience any swelling, redness, soreness, or severe pain, immediately see your doctor for consultation.
What Causes Cracked Heels?
Cracked heels can occur for several reasons, from lacking moisture to exposed skin due to exposed footwear. Some of the symptoms of cracked heels include dry skin thickening around heels, cracked skin, or heel pain, then knowing what is causing the condition can prevent you from happening it all together in the future.
Dry skin is usually the cause of Cracked Heels. When weight and pressure are applied to the fat pad under the heels, the skin starts expanding sideways, causing you to have cracked heels.
Other causes of Cracked Heels include you standing for long periods, living in a dry climate, consistently walking barefoot, always wearing sandals or shoes that are open from the back, poor-fitting shoes, or obesity.
How to fix Cracked Heels?
The main reason of having Cracked Heels is Dry Skin, which usually occurs due to less moisturise in the skin. To fix Cracked Heels, you should start moisturising your heels. To do that you can moisturise your skin once or maybe even twice or thrice a day with a cream, lotion or a moisturiser. Mild cases of Cracked Heels can be solved with a moisturiser or with the use of pumice stone. Gently rub the pumice stone on the cracked heel and applying moisturiser can heal the cracks, but make sure you don’t overuse the pumice stone.
Below are some of the steps on how you can moisturise your skin to fix cracked heels:
- Using Emollient or humectant moisturiser. Emollient is used to prevent skin from losing water. It fills in the gaps between the skin flakes and makes your skin feel soft, smooth, and flexible. Humectants, on the other hand, penetrate the outer skin layer and maintain moisture in the skin by attracting water from the air. In dry conditions, a humectant can absorb water from the inner layers instead of the atmosphere, causing water loss overall in the skin.
- Applying Occlusive Moisturiser. Occlusive Moisturisers prevent moisture from evaporating from the skin by forming a thin layer on the skin after the skin has absorbed the humectant or the emollient. One of the best examples of Occlusive Moisturiser is Petroleum Jelly though they can be greasy and messy.
- Wearing 100 percent cotton socks to bed. Wearing 100 percent cotton socks to bed helps prevent the moisture from evaporating and gives the skin time to heal. It also prevents bed sheets from getting stained.
- Applying a keratolytic to thickened skin. Keratolytic are agents which are used to thin the thickened cells. They cause the outer layer to loosen up and help remove dead cells from the skin. This allows the skin to keep in the moisture. Some of the examples of keratolytic include urea, salicylic acid, and alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic and glycolic acids.
- Gently rubbing the skin with the pumice stone. Rubbing Pumice Stone against the moisturised skin can reduce the thickness of the hard skin. People with diabetes should not use Pumice Stone and instead consult their dermatologists.
- Using a liquid bandage. Gel, Liquid, or Spray Bandages can cover the cracked skin, forming a layer and preventing dirt and germs from entering. It can also aid in faster healing and help reduce pain.
In case of severely cracked heels, the doctor may perform the following medical treatments:
- Removal of dead skin
- Application of medical glue to seal cracks
- Help the patient change the way they walk
- Recommended heel cups, shoe inserts, heel pads
- Prescribe antibiotic in case of infection
- Cover the heel with bandages or dressings
- Prescribe removal agents or stronger softening
How to Prevent Cracked Heels?
Given below are the steps that you can use to prevent cracked heels from happening:
- Instead of using hot water, start using warm water. Avoiding showers and baths can make the cracked skin even worse.
- Start limiting your time in the shower to prevent moisture loss
- Apply either a cream, lotion, or a moisturiser immediately after taking a shower or a bath. American Academy of Dermatology suggests that ointments work better compared to a cream or a lotion after the bath. A moisturiser or a balm containing the following will work better in soothing the dry skin: lactic acid, urea, glycerin, lanolin, petrolatum, and mineral oil.
- While it is essential to keep dry skin neat, clean and healthy and prevent it from getting any infections, it is also essential to use a mild soap. Harsh soaps can dry skin even more than they already are. A gentle cleanser helps your feet retain the moisture. Skin products containing alcohol, fragrance, retinoids, or alpha-hydroxy are considered too harsh for your skin and can cause the skin to lose the natural oils.
- You should start wearing shoes with closed heels which provides cushioning to the heels. Shoes with thin soles, ill-fitting, or are open-heeled cause more damage to the skin. By wearing socks and having soles in the shoes you can protect the sensitive part of your feet and the tissues in your heels.
Cracked Heels are not a cause of worry as a whole and will not cause you pain if you prevent them from growing. But Cracked Heels can become a hassle, especially when walking barefoot. No matter which age group you belong to, cracked heels can happen any time and taking care of your feet is a must.
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