Cracked heels, also known as fissured heels, can be a painful and embarrassing problem. They occur when the skin on your heels becomes dry and thick, thus leading to cracks that can be deep and painful.
Fortunately, there are several effective ways to heal cracked heels in less than a week. This article will guide you through the best home remedies, over-the-counter products, and professional treatments available.
Causes of Cracked Heels
Before delving into healing solutions, understanding the causes of cracked heels can help prevent future occurrences:
- Dry skin: This is the most common cause of cracked heels. Dryness can be caused by factors like using harsh soaps, hot water showers, cold weather, and not moisturizing regularly.
- Standing for long periods: This can put additional stress on the heels, leading to calluses and cracks.
- Wearing open-back shoes: Shoes that don’t cover the heels can expose them to the elements and make them more susceptible to dryness.
- Certain medical conditions: Some conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, and diabetes, can increase the risk of developing cracked heels.
Healing Cracked Heels: A Multi-Pronged Approach
Effectively healing cracked heels requires a combination of different approaches:
- Soaking: Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salts or a gentle soap for 10-15 minutes. In particular, this will soften the dead skin and make it easier to remove.
- Exfoliating: Use a pumice stone, foot file, or scrub to buff away the dead skin gently. Focus on the affected areas and be careful not to scrub too hard, as this can worsen the cracks.
- Moisturizer: Apply a thick moisturizer or foot cream to your heels twice or thrice daily. Use products that mainly contain ingredients like urea, lactic acid, or salicylic acid, as these can help to break down dead skin and heal cracks.
- Ointments: Occlusive ointments, such as petroleum jelly or Aquaphor, can help to lock in moisture and prevent dryness. Apply a generous amount to your heels and cover them with socks overnight.
3. Home Remedies:
- Banana: Mash a ripe banana and apply it to your heels for 20 minutes before rinsing it off. Bananas are rich in potassium and vitamins, which can help to soften and nourish the skin.
- Honey: Honey contains natural antibacterial and moisturizing effects. Apply a thin layer of honey to your heels and cover them with socks overnight.
- Oils: Coconut oil, olive oil, and almond oil can all be used to moisturize and heal cracked heels. Apply them generously and massage them into the feet.
4. Over-the-Counter Products:
- Salicylic acid creams: These help to exfoliate dead skin and promote healing.
- Urea creams: Urea is a humectant that draws moisture into the skin.
- Heel balms: These are specially formulated products that contain ingredients to soften the skin and heal cracks.
5. Professional Treatments:
- Foot peel: This is a chemical treatment that removes the top layer of dead skin from your feet.
- Microneedling: This involves using tiny needles to make microscopic punctures in your skin to stimulate collagen production and healing.
6. Lifestyle Changes:
- Wear shoes that fit correctly: Shoes that are too tight or loose can contribute to cracked heels.
- Avoid open-back shoes: Open-back shoes can expose your heels to the elements and make them more susceptible to dryness.
- Moisturize regularly: Make sure to moisturize your feet at least twice a day, especially after showering or bathing.
- Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated helps to keep your skin soft and supple.
- Avoid harsh soaps and hot water: These can strip your skin of your feet’ natural oils and make it more susceptible to dryness.
Tips for Preventing Future Cracked Heels
- Moisturize regularly: This is the most important step in preventing cracked heels.
- Wear socks: Socks help to protect your heels from the elements and keep them moist.
- Exfoliate regularly: This will help to remove dead skin and prevent it from building up.
- Choose the right shoes: Wear shoes that fit properly and provide adequate support.
- See a podiatrist: If you have severe cracked heels that are not responding to home treatment, see a podiatrist for professional advice.