Are Cracked Heels Painful & Dangerous? (Part-II)

Last week the author detailed the causes of painful cracked heels. Now let us see the prevention, management medical treatment, and home remedies.

Prevention: Some tips and certain lifestyle changes can help prevent heel fissures.  It is not advisable to wear open-heeled shoes and expose heels by wearing slingbacks or sandals which dry the heels’ skin out. Better not to walk barefoot on rough surfaces often. Walking outside on pavement or uneven stone flooring can lead to heel damage and dryness. Try to wear shoes when you’re outside and nonskid socks or house slippers with a back when you’re indoors.

Using harsh soaps, soaking the feet in very hot water, or scrubbing excessively at the feet can contribute to further dryness and cracking. Don’t be too hard on the feet. Moisturize feet regularly, moisturizing especially in the mornings and evenings will help keep feet soft healthy, and smooth.

Wear protective heel cups in shoes. Heel cups can help reduce stress on heels that can lead to heel fissures. You can purchase these at most drugstores or sports stores. Exfoliate (wash or rub with a granular substance to remove dead skin cells.) regularly on the heels. Use a gentle foot scrub, or pumice stone (a very light and porous volcanic piece of rock) to prevent the building of excessive dead skin cells. This has a protective effect on heels and prevents fissures. Heel fissures result from a lack of moisture, If not treated this condition can snowball into more serious symptoms. Regularly moisturize and examine for cracks and attend suitably. To prevent cracked heels

Your footwear matters. If you’re prone to cracked heels, try to find shoes that fit properly and support heels. Whenever possible, wear shoes with a sturdy, wide heel that supports and cushions heels.

You may be able to relieve cracking heels with home remedies, including balms and exfoliation, but if cracks are severe and if there is diabetes you need to take the advice of a doctor.

To prevent cracked heels, footwear matters so try to find shoes that fit properly and support heels. Shoes must be well-built with a wide heel that sustains and cushions the heels comfortably.

Home Remedies: The first line of treatment for cracked heels is using a heel balm. These balms contain ingredients such as urea, salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids, and saccharide isomerate to moisturize, soften, and exfoliate dead skin. One has to apply heel balm in the morning to increase skin elasticity before starting the day. Wear shoes that protect heels and moisturize heels two to three times a day. Some heel balms may cause minor stinging or irritation. This is normal. If the balm continues to bother or cause severe reactions, please consult your family physician. Severe cases of cracked heels may require a prescription strength balm or steroid cream to help reduce inflammation and relieve itching.

The skin around cracked heels is often thicker and drier than the rest of the skin, so it tends to split when pressure is applied. For a smoothening effect, it is advised to keep feet in lukewarm, soapy water for up to 15-20 minutes. Gently slap your feet dry and apply petroleum jelly over the feet to lock in moisture. Put on socks to avoid spreading any grease around. Scrubbing the feet when they are dry can increase the risk of damaging skin. Moisturizing Heel Sleeves can be tried. These have a similar effect to foot soaks. Some of these sleeves are like socks that contain therapeutic oils and vitamins to help treat dry skin. Liquid bandage can be applied on cracks to seal the wound and prevent infections or further cracking. This product comes as a spray. Liquid bandage is a good option for treating deep heel cracks that may bleed, but it is to be applied to clean, dry skin. As the crack heals, the coating is forced to the skin’s surface. Some people report success using superglue to close skin cracks.

In a case study observed in 1999 ten people used two to three drops of superglue along each crack held the crack together for 60 seconds and allowed it to seal. About a week later, they reported the cracks were closed and pain-free. But commercial superglue can be toxic so consult a doctor before trying this.

According to a 2012 review article honey may work as a natural remedy for cracked heels which has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Research shows that honey can help heal and cleanse wounds, and moisturize the skin. Honey can be used as a foot scrub after a soak, or apply it as a foot mask overnight (to be continued).