Many people suffer with callouses and cracked heels. As the skin thickens on the heels it is not as supple and the skin can split due to pressure on the feet when standing or walking. If left untreated minor cracks can develop into deep fissures that can bleed and be very painful, luckily this is easily remedied.
What causes dry cracked heels?
There are numerous issues that contribute to dry cracked heels and fissures in the feet. They include lack of moisture in the skin, harsh soaps and detergents, as well as deficiencies in magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, calcium and iron.
Some common issues that contribute to dry cracked heels include:
- ill-fitting shoes
- kidney disease
- cold winter weather
- standing all day
- excess weight
- thyroid disease
- hot baths and showers
- vitami deficiencies
Prevention and treatment options
Dry cracked heels can be easily prevented and treated at home with simple items you likely have in your pantry or medicine cabinet. Ultimately, the goal is prevention, through regular care.
- Foot soaking. Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes, a couple of times a week. This can help to soften callouses and dry heels before exfoliation.
- Dry feet thoroughly-After baths, showers or a foot soak, don’t forget to dry your feet completely, especially in between toes, as bacteria and fungus thrive in damp, warm places.
- Exfoliate feet –Exfoliate on a regular basis to remove dead skin and callouses. Pumice stones or ped eggs work great for this.
- Moisturize your feet daily. Lotion will help to give the skin the added moisture it needs to prevent cracking. This is especially important in the dry winter months when cracked heels are more likely to occur.
- Overnight creams-Before bedtime apply a layer of oil, lotion or salve to your feet, especially your heels and then put on a pair of clean socks. This allows your feet to be moisturized while you are sleeping. Be sure to wash and dry your feet thoroughly in the morning. Repeat this treatment for a few days until your feet have healed.
The easiest way to place socks on your feet after applying lotion is to roll the socks up completely to the toe seam, then place the sock on the top of your toes and slowly re-roll them over your foot.
Hydrate your body– Not drinking enough water and nutritional gaps in your diet can contribute to cracked heels. Make sure your body is well hydrated, that includes drinking pure filtered water and consuming high water foods such as cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, lettuces and greens.
Collagen– The main function of collagen is to sustain cartilage, tendons and skin. Adding collagen to your diet is an easy way to improve skin hydration and elasticity. It is easy to incorporate collagen powders into your diet as there are many powdered forms available online and in health food stores. Consider adding collagen powder to your smoothies, jello, gummies, sauces, etc.
Essential Fatty Acids– EFAs help to protect the skin’s outer layer. Foods that are rich in EFAs include oily fish such as salmon, sardines and freshwater trout, vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, olive and sesame, nuts and seeds especially high in EFAs include walnuts and flaxseeds as well as vegetables like avocado, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage.
Lipoic acid-Foods high in lipoic acid includes poultry, green leafy vegetables, liver, and tomatoes.
Fiber-Most of us simply isn’t consuming enough fiber. Fiber is important to help regulate your bowels and to help flush toxins from the body such as smoke and environmental pollutants that can contribute to dry skin.
Sea Salt Scrub
Use this simple recipe to create a sea salt scrub to help exfoliate your feet.
- 1 cup coarse sea salt
- 5 tablespoon coconut oil
- Three drops peppermint or lavender essential oil
- Mix all ingredients in a labeled jar and store in the cool area.
- Soak your feet in warm water for 10-15 minutes.
- Use a ped egg or pumice stone to remove thick callouses.
- Massage the salt scrub into your heels or other calloused area of your feet, using a gentle circular motion.
- Rinse off feet, dry them thoroughly and apply the herbal salve listed below or use your favorite lotion.
Make your own herbal oil or salve
Salves are incredibly versatile & easy to make. You can vary the herbs based on your personal preferences or on what you need the salve for.
- 1 cup of oil
- 1 to 2 ounces of dried herbs
- Add 1 cup of oil to a saucepan. (I use extra virgin olive oil). Add in approximately 1 to 2 ounces of dried herbs. (I like the combination of comfrey, calendula, plantain, and St. John’s wort).Place on the stovetop.
- Keep the burner at the lowest possible temperature for 3-5 hours, until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herbs.
- Line a strainer with cheesecloth or muslin and place over a bowl. Pour oil into the strainer. Squeeze or press the herbs to remove all of the oil.
At this point, you can keep this as infused herbal body oil or follow the additional steps to create a salve. If keeping as oil, be sure to place in labeled jar. Infused body oil will last approximately one year if stored properly in a cool dark place. You can also add Vitamin E oil as a preservative to extend the shelf life.
From herbal body oil to herbal salve
To convert your body oil to a salve takes minutes. You can customize your salve to a softer or more firm consistency by simply adjusting the beeswax. The basic formula for a salve is 1 ounce of beeswax for each cup of oil.
- 1 ounce of beeswax for each cup of oil.
- Place your infused oil in a saucepan and warm. Add 1 ounce of shaved beeswax to oil and allow the wax to melt.
- Remove the pan from the heat and dip a spoon into the oil mixture. Place the spoon in the fridge or freezer to test the consistency, just long enough to harden. Remove spoon and check your salve. If it’s too soft, add more beeswax. If it’s too hard to add more oil.
- Repeat the steps above until you achieve your desired consistency. Once the mixture is at your chosen consistency, pour into jars or containers and allow to harden.
Remember to label your creations and store in cool place.
In most cases following the prevention and treatment options will yield positive results within the week. If the cracks and dryness are not healing at that time consider adding some nutritional support. If these methods are not yielding positive results within a couple of weeks, you may want to visit a podiatrist.