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Why Can Cracked Heels Be a Problem All Year Round?

Cracked heels, also referred to as heel fissures, are a common foot condition causing discomfort or even pain.  The dry skin can be accompanied by thickened skin with even yellow or brown calluses around the heel edge.

Often, the only problem with cracked heels is their appearance. However, in some cases, the condition can be severe if the cracks become infected.

Cracked heels can be a problem in summer and in winter.  In fact dry heels (known as xerosis) is very common in the feet and heels because they are constantly under pressure both from wearing shoes and from walking.  Wearing high heels could make the problem worse.  Those cracked feet can be unsightly, painful and hard to get rid of. 

What causes cracked heels in summer?

The feet spend more time exposed and in sandals or flip flops.  Without  proper exfoliation and hydration, the rate of calluses or dry heel formation can accelerate.

Try to avoid walking barefoot, wearing sandals or flip flops in summer until your feet are 100% healthy.

What causes cracked heels in winter?

  • Winter weather is one of the most common culprits of dry skin that peels, tears and cracks. The heels are especially prone to chapped skin, because they are home to most of the sweat glands in your feet. Protect them from vital moisture loss by wearing aloe vera-infused socks or by massaging oils into feet before bed.  Liquid, gel, or spray bandages can also be used to cover the cracked skin. These may provide a protective layer over the cracks, help reduce pain, stop dirt and germs entering the wounds, and aid faster healing.
  • Skin conditions such eczema, psoriasis, diabetes and other dry skin conditions can cause skin to dry out, flake, peel and even crack down deep into the layers beneath the epidermis, drawing blood.  Heels, however, are particularly susceptible to added complications of these conditions.
  • Kidney disorders (where a buildup of waste products in your blood occurs) can cause dry skin, itching and flaking. Understandably, windy and cold winter weather only worsens this condition - and may cause heels to crack.

Other reasons for cracked heels

  • Dehydration, or not drinking enough water.
  • Taking very hot baths or showers or soaking in a hot bath for too long or too frequently and then not moisturizing your feet.
  • Using harsh, drying soaps on your feet or scrubbing feet dry.
  • An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can be another cause. The thyroid produces important hormones responsible for everything from hunger to sleep, and even healthy hair and skin. If you notice any of these symptoms, check with your doctor about a thyroid test: unwanted weight gain, mood swings, irregularity, muscle aches and pains, joint pain, fatigue, and painful PMS.
  • While dry skin can be normal, if notice that your skin is so dry that it’s prone to flaking and cracking, it may be a sign of a nutrient deficiency. Ultra-dry skin can be caused by dehydration and a deficiency in essential fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E or potassium.
  • As you age, you may notice especially dry skin, and even thicker skin on the feet, than you had when you were younger - increasing the risk of developing cracked heels.
  • Excessive weight gain can add pressure on the heels and cause the cracking of already extra-dry feet.
  • Those with diabetes are even more likely to sustain an infection from cracked heels. 
  • Cracked heels can also be the result of walking in the wrong type of footwear, or wearing a pair of shoes that are too small or improperly fitted. Sandals and other exposing shoes can also cause parts of the foot to slip off balance, further increasing the risk of cracked heels.
  • Genetics can also be a cause when family members pass this dry skin condition down to their children.
  • Don't forget about considering the subject of hygiene.  The skin is the largest organ of the body and does the important work of removing toxins via the pores.  Always keep your skin clean, dry and moisturized. 

What's the best way to treat cracked heels at home?

One way to help smoothing cracked heels is with a foot file, using it once or twice a week and remembering just to go in one direction.  If you go back and forth, there is the risk of ripping the skin even more.  Foot files can be manual or even battery operated.

Another suggestion is to use a foot scrub. Here is a recipe: Dissolve three tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl or basin of warm water and let your feet soak for up to twenty minutes.  Follow up with a gentle scrubbing of the feet with a paste of baking soda.  In addition, baking soda is a natural toenail fungus treatment. 

Try soaking the feet in warm water for roughly twenty minutes at night, follow with the application of plenty of natural moisturizers, and then finish off by putting on cotton socks for the rest of the night.

From time to time, use a pumice stone carefully to reduce any thickness of the hard skin in the heel area, this can decrease the risk of the hard skin cracking and splitting.

Also, even when your feet do heal, always remember to keep your feet well hydrated, especially in the heel area. Treat yourself to a moisturizing and soothing foot massage as this will also greatly help the healing process.

Manuka honey or coconut oil can help the skin retain moisture. The honey has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, helping to heal and cleanse wounds while moisturizing the skin. The honey can be used as a foot scrub after a soak or apply as a foot mask overnight. Coconut oil is often recommended for dry skin, eczema and psoriasis to help the skin retain moisture. With its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, the coconut oil could be helpful for your cracked heels especially if they are prone to bleeding or infections.

Use our own specific H-Cracked Heels Formula which will penetrate deep into the skin and help to moisturize while simultaneously reducing the dryness, cracking and pain associated with cracked feet and helping to regain smooth, crack-free, painless feet once more.

 

When you get out of the shower

Lock in the moisture that the skin on your heels has absorbed in the shower.  Our Simply Body Oil or our H-Cracked Heels Formula will do this for you.  If the shower is taken before bed, then wrap your feet in a pair of socks or specialist silicone gel wraps for the night.

Keep on treating heels consistently for the best results. 

Even when your feet do heal, always remember to keep them well hydrated, especially in the heel area. 

Keep on pampering those feet and especially your heels - summer and winter alike!

A final word of warning

If you have poor circulation, diabetes or another chronic condition that weakens your immunity, it might be wise to seek medical advice when treating cracked heels.