Cracked heels, as the name indicates, are cracked skin at the heels which is generally caused by dry skin. Because there are actually cracks on the skin, they are sometimes also referred to as heels fissures. In most cases, the cracks make the appearance of heels ugly without any pain, hurt or discomfort. However, in some cases, the cracks may be quiet deep and can cause pain, aches or discomfort.
Some people also get infection and bleeding when the condition becomes severe. Women are more prone to cracked heels than men. According to a report published by the National Foot Health Assessment in 2012, in the USA alone women are 50 percent more likely to get the condition than men. The good news is the report noted there was a 4 percent decrease in the cracked skin on foot from 2009 to 2012.
Symptoms of Cracked Heels
- Fissures in the skin
- Rough appearance
- Burning sensation
- Mild to moderate pain
- Hurt and discomfort when walking
- Discomfort when standing
Over the Counter Lotions and Creams
There are many topical lotions and creams available for the treatment of cracked heels. We always recommend to use creams or lotions that consist of pure natural and herbal ingredients. Avoid creams or lotions containing harsh chemicals which harms the body in other ways.
H-cracked heels formula
This is a combination of herbal and natural plant oil manufactured by Healing Natural Oils (aka amoils) in the USA. The manufacturer clearly states that they do not use any kind of harsh chemicals in their product. It is all manufactured from all natural ingredients under strict GMPs to ensure the quality. It deeply moisturizes the cracked heel skin as well as any other areas on feet or hands. Here is the list of ingredients in h-cracked heels formula.
- Hazel seed oil
- Rosehip seed oil
- Avocado seed oil
- Wheatgerm oil
- Lavender flower oil
- Geranium oil
- Chamomile flower oil
- Tea tree leaf oil
For more info read this post on H-cracked heels natural homeopathic formula.
Kerasal Intensive Foot Repair
Kerasal is approved by the American Podiatric Medical association. The manufacturer claims that in their user study 99% people reported that Kerasal Intensive Foot Repair was effective and could see immediate results overnight. Looking at the ingredients, it consists of some chemicals such as salicylic acid and urea which may have other side effects.
Miracle of Aloe Heel Stick
This cream consists of some natural ingredients for the repair and removal of cracks on foot. Among the natural ingredients are: coconut oil, safflower oil, lavender oil and tea tree oil. However, it is not completely natural and contains many other chemical ingredients. Most users in their reviews have claimed that the stick is effective for the removal and fixing of cracks on the heels.
Fleixtol Heel Balm
This is another over the counter (OTC) remedy for dry heels. Again it contains some herbal oils as natural ingredients. However, it is not perfectly natural and contains some chemical ingredients. It is available on Amazon and most users have positive reviews for its effectiveness.
O’Keeffe’s Cream for Healthy Feet
This is another very popular product claiming to cure foot cracks effectively. Its main ingredients are water, paraffin, allantoin and glycerine. There is huge number of patient on Amazon with positive reviews for O’Keeffe’s Cream for Healthy Feet.
Kerasal Intensive Foot Repair
- Approved by APMA
- Immediate results
- Two packs for the price
- Not 100 % Natural
H-Cracked Heels Formula
- 100% Natural
- Herbal / Homeopathic
- No chemeicals
- 90 days money back guarantee
- Made in USA
- No additives
Miracle of Aloe Heel Stick
- Immediate results
- Not 100 % Natural
Causes of Cracked Heels
- Not covering your heels
This is perhaps the most common reason among all people, both healthy and unhealthy. If you walk barefoot or wear shoes with your ankle uncovered, you will mostly likely get cracked heels. The bare heels are exposed to dirt and dust which causes the skin to become extremely dry and hence creates thin cracks. If you repeatedly keep your heels exposed to dirt and dust from the ground, the cracks will go deeper.
- Standing for long
If your job or other activities involve long periods of standing you will probably get cracks in your heels. The reason is standing for excessive period of time puts a lot of pressure on heels causing fissures or cracks in the heels.
Standing for long period of time may also slow down the flow of blood from legs to upper parts of the body. A study published in the Human Factor reported that standing for longer periods are detrimental to health causing legs, ankles and back issues.
The study also concluded that prolonged standing could lead to short term as well as long term health problems.
According to Safe Workers, prolonged standing leads to coronary heart diseases, ankles sprains, back issues, corns, bunions, flat feet, heels spurs to name but a few.
- Long hot showers
Long hot showers strips the skin of essential oils and thus causing dryness. Quoting Woolrey-Lloyd, the Huffington Post writer, Dana Oliver, states that long hot showers depletes the skin of its natural oils making it dry and prone to cracks.
Richard Hoffman also confirms in his book “Ask the Pharmacist” that prolonged and hot showers can lead to dry skin especially feet and heels.
Similarly, Davina London in her book “Skin Cures from Your Kitchen Cupboard” writes that hot shower or bath for more than 15 minutes can strip the skin off the necessary and protective oil making it very dry.
It is therefore recommended to keep the shower short and the water temperature warm instead of hot.
- Using harsh soaps
Soaps are great for cleaning purposes but they damage the ph balance of the skin. Your skin should naturally be acidic in the range of 4 to 5 which retains the skin moisture. Using harsh soaps alter the ph of the skin by making it more alkaline which causes dryness, dermatitis and even eczema like conditions.
Stephen M. Schleicher MD in his book Skin Sense!: A Dermatologist’s Guide to Skin and Facial Care; Third Edition, notes that repeated exposure to soaps can induce skin chapping, cracking, dryness and itching. Using harsh soaps on heels may also lead to cracks.
- Wearing the wrong type of shoes
According to Spine Health Institute, 72 percent women in America wear high heels on a daily basis. High heels increase the pressure on the foot through downward force causing numerous health problems such as heel, spine, ankles, knees, chest, back, neck and posture problems.
The high pressure on heels creates think cracks initially which becomes wider and deeper with the passage of time.
Wearing the wrong type of shoes can also cause alignment problem such as pronation and supination.
In pronation the heel bones angles inwards making the foot flattened and causing cracks. In supination, the heel bone angles outwards placing strains on the ankles muscles, tendons and ligaments inducing tears in heels.
- Climate and dry skin
Dry summer or cold winter can cause heel fissures. The vapour content of water in outdoor air has significant effect on your skin including your heels.
Too much humidity or too less humidity both have negative effect on skin such as dryness, flakiness and patchiness. For instance, people travelling from Florida to Colorado experience dehydration of the skin because of the dry air.
If you are travelling to a cold climate or dry summer places, it is always best to carry a natural moisturising cream or lotion.
- Vitamin deficiency
According to Dr. Eric Berg DC, the only cause of cracked or fissured heels is vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) deficiency. Vitamin B3 or niacin deficiency creates not only gastrointestinal issues but also a lot of skin problems.
Dr Eric Berg DC enumerates sensitivity to light, cracked skin, rough skin, odour sensitivity, dizziness with sudden movement, irritability and black tongue to be some of the symptoms of vitamin B3 or niacin deficiency.
According to the University of Maryland the daily recommended allowance for Vitamin B (niacin) is 16 mg for adult men and 14 mg for women. If you are deficient in B3, include beet roots, salmon, peanuts and other niacin rich foods in your diet. You may also try adding B3 to your diet protocol from natural supplements.
- A lot of pressure
We have covered this under the section wearing the wrong type of shoes, however, it needs to be made clear that it can be any pressure on heels causing them to crack.
According to Dr Dan, it is like standing on tomato burst under pressure. Dr Dan further asserts that sever heel fissures can cause pain, bleeding, discomfort, fungus and other types of infections
9. Fungal infections
Fungi are microorganisms that cause contagious infection which can be passed from one person to another. Athlete’s foot, ringworm, jock itch, yeast etc. are some of the most common fungal infection. As fungal infections are contagious, they can spread from one part of the body to the other. If you have fungal infection in your foot, toes or nails, these can spread to your heels causing cracks or fissures.
People with over active thyroid and related issues develop skin problems. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body does not produce sufficient thyroid hormones.
Autoimmune diseases, pregnancy, thyroid surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are some of the causes of hypothyroidism. According to Dr. Amanda Oakley, hypothyroidism may cause dry skin, dry hair, brittle hair, brittle nails, dry nails and intolerance of cold.
Due to hypothyroidism and hormone imbalance, your skin may become soft, itchy, warm and flush easily leading to cracked heels.
11. Atopic dermatitis
It is a condition in which the skin becomes dry and itchy. It is often referred to as eczema. Atopic dermatitis or eczema which affects hands, fingers and heels is known as dyshidrotic eczema.
According to Mayo clinic, atopic dermatitis is more common among children. However, it may occur at any age. It tends to be a chronic condition with periodical flare ups.
According to the British Association of Dermatologists, atopic dermatitis refers to a variety of conditions including asthma, hay fever, food allergy and eczema. The word eczema comes from Greek which literally means to boil and is used to describe a condition where the skin becomes itchy, red, inflammatory and dry.
Obesity refers to a condition where the body accumulates excessive fat. A person suffering from obesity is very overweight and is referred to as obese.
According to Obesity Society, 69 percent Americans are either overweight or obese. NHS UK warns that obesity can cause serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart diseases, breast cancer, bowel cancer, stroke, depression and self-low esteem.
With obesity your body weight increases and puts extra pressure on the heel pad which creates fissures or cracks in the soles.
People with type 2 diabetes have more risk of developing cracked heels and infections because of the nerve damage in feet. The uncontrollable blood sugar levels causes a condition called peripheral neuropathy which damages the nerves.
If you are type 2 diabetes, it is important to take good care of your foot health to avoid cracks, ulcers and infections.
According to the Journal of Endocrinology, patients with type 2 diabetes should be educated to take care of their feet, toes, nails and cracked heels to avoid further complications.
14. Hereditary or Genetic
According to Podiatincs.com some people may easily get cracks in their skin due to genetic skin type.
Other Causes of Cracked Heels
- Nutritional deficiency
- Juvenile plantar dermatitis
- Being Overweight
22 Home Remedies for Cracked Heels
Like many other ailments, there several home remedies or natural treatments available for the cure of cracked heels. If you have ever wondered how to repair cracks on your feet in the comfort of your own home then read on.
- Try any Readymade OTC
A home remedy is generally a treatment that you can use in the comfort of your own home without any medical prescription. Use of an over the counter cream or lotion is the easiest way to do so as you do not have to go through preparing the remedy yourself. Creams, lotions or oils which are 100 percent natural such as H-heels cracks formula are a great way to try them at home.
- Use Coconut Oil
As mentioned earlier some people may get cracks on their heels and feet due to thyroid issues. Coconut oil activates metabolism of those who have underactive or overactive thyroid issues.
Coconut oil has anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties. It improves immune system and destroys pathogenic bacteria.
It penetrates deep into the dry skin providing natural moisturisation with outstanding heeling effect. Just rub a little bit of organic coconut oil 2 times a day on your heels, feet, hands, face, arms etc. to get great results.
- Scrub the Dead Skin Away
Sometimes just the dead cells on the surface of the skin makes the heel appear rough. Simply scrub the dead skin away and your heels will improve in appearance.
It is better to exfoliate your skin by applying an exfoliating substance like sugar before you scrub the dead skin away. After your scrub away the dead skin, apply coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil or a combination of these for making your skin smooth.
Honey has anti-bacterial properties. Honey is also full of nutrients and antioxidants. The best honey is raw, organic, unheated and unprocessed local honey.
Honey keeps the skin moisturised and kill pathogenic bacteria. For cracked heels, mix some raw organic honey with whole milk and a tablespoon of lemon juice. This is a super effective concoction for the treatment of dry and cracked skin on feet, heels, hands and other body parts.
Manuka honey is the best type of honey with very high anti-bacterial properties.
- Vegetable Oil
Soak your feet in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. Gently scrub the dead skin away. Apply any vegetable oil of your choice.
Wear socks made of cotton. Repeat every day for two weeks. Make sure you keep the cotton socks on while going out.
- Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum jelly such as Vaseline creates a protective barrier to keep the skin away from dryness. Petroleum jelly is cheap and easily available.
It is easy to store and easy to apply. Just wash your feet and apply a little bit of the jelly on your heels and massage for a minute or two.
Is petroleum jelly safe? There is some controversy about the safety of using petroleum jelly.
The famous Vaseline brand think it is completely safe as the product is highly processed and refined and all the bad stuff has been removed. Some quarters still believe that it contains carcinogenic elements that may cause cancer.
In an article published in the Journal of Urology, it was concluded that petroleum jelly was highly effective and inexpensive treatment without any side effects.
7. Bees Wax
A study published in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine found ethat beeswax, honey and olive oil combined had a very positive effect against fungal skin conditions.
The study also concluded that the mixture was useful in other skin conditions like dermatitis and psoriasis vulgaris.
Another report published in the International Journal of Toxicology noted that beeswax was non-irritant and completely safe to be used in skin conditions and related products.
Glycerine is obtained from animal or plants fats. It is a natural humectant which means that it attracts moisture to the skin. Avoid using the synthetic or animal version.
Plant based natural glycerine is the best form of natural humectant. Apply it twice a day to your cracked heels. Make sure you cover you heels with pure cotton socks after application.
- Sesame Oil
Sesame oil contains linoleic acid which makes the oil anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. The oil also contains several minerals such as manganese, magnesium, copper and calcium.
The anti-oxidant rich sesame oil has great benefits for dry skin especially cracks on the heels. It contains an anti-oxidant called sesamol which helps repair the damages cells in the cracked skin.
- Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is natural mineral compound of magnesium and sulphate. The minerals in the salt helps the skin stay hydrated as well as flush out the accumulated toxins. Mix a handful of salt in lukewarm water and put your feet for around 5 to 10 minutes. Let the feet dry and apply some extra virgin olive oil. Repeat every day until you see improvement in the cracked heels.
- Better Fitting Shoes and Socks
It is extremely important to wear better fitting shoes for your foot health. Shoes that are too tight or too loose adversely affect foot health.
According to the American Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons, tight shoes can lead to certain conditions such as hammer toes, ingrown toenails, toes crossing over each other, blisters and other complications.
Similarly shoes that are too large can exert pressure on the wrong area and lead to deformities in the feet. Always wear the size that fits you with soft cotton socks.
- Eat Natural Multi Vitamin
It is always better to take a holistic approach to maintain excellent health. Vitamins and mineral deficiencies can lead to cracked heels. According to Dr Eric Berg, cracked heels are the result of vitamins like B3, C, D and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Try a balanced diet with a variety of foods containing fresh fruit, vegetable, proteins and healthy fats. If you think you are deficient in vitamins and minerals, consider taking a good brand of natural multivitamin.
- Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is one of the best natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial oil. It is very strong and should not be applied on its own.
Mix a few drops of tea tree oil in olive or coconut oil and then apply. Mixing it with other oils will also reduce its strong odor.
- Olive Oil
Carol Firenze mentions in her book “The Passionate Olive: 101 Things to do With Olive Oil” that olive oil has exceptional ability to deeply penetrate, lock the moisture and keep the dry skin supple. Olive oil keeps the outer layer of the skin cells firmer to prevent cracks in the heels.
It should be noted that not all olive is good. Remember to buy only extra virgin olive oil that is cold pressed, unrefined, unheated, unprocessed and that comes in glass bottle.
- Almond Oil
Joni Loughran in “Natural Skin Care: Alternative and Traditional Techniques” notes that Almond oil contain vitamins, vitamin E, B1, B2, B3, B6, B7, manganese, magnesium, potassium and copper.
It is especially rich in vitamin E which is great to treat itchy, inflammatory, dry, flaky and sensitive skin. Apply almond oil daily twice a day to achieve maximum results. It should be noted that almond oil has shorter shelf life and hence should be refrigerated or used before it expires.
- Combination Oil
As we have seen that olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, sesame oil and others have beneficial effect on the skin. It is a good idea to mix them all in order to reap the full benefits of various nutrients and anti-oxidants of all these oils.
- Lemon juice
It is one of the easiest and most accessible home remedy for the treatment of cracked heels and other skin conditions. It is rich in vitamin C which helps to fix damaged cells. Just squeeze out a lemon to obtain fresh juice and apply it to the affected area. Always best to mix with one of the oils mentioned in this post.
- Apple cider vinegar
Add two tablespoon of acv to lukewarm water and soak your feet in for 5 to 10 minutes. Tape them dry with a clean towel and apply some olive oil afterwards. Make sure you use the ACV that is raw, unfiltered, unpasteurised, unprocessed and organic. One of the best brands in our opinion is Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.
- Oatmeal and Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil is herbal oil which resembles the body’s natural sebum. Due to this natural quality, it balances the skin ph and keep it moisturised. Jojoba oil contains essential fatty acids, vitamin E and other antioxidants. Joni Loughran in her book “Natural Skin Care: Alternative and Traditional Techniques” writes that oats contain beta glucan which penetrates the skin and deeply moisturises it.
- Rice Flour
Exfoliating your feet makes its skin moist and hydrated. Not exfoliating makes it dry, flaky and cracked. Mix rice flour with honey, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and apply the paste to your heels and wrap them overnight.
Although, the benefits of rice flour for skin health has not been scientifically proven, rice flour contains several nutrients such as manganese, magnesium, B1, B3, selenium and copper which may help exfoliate the skin.
Additionally when combined with honey and lemon, the paste has antimicrobial properties because of honey and cell repair properties due to the high vitamin c content in lemon.
- Shea Butter
Shea Butter is an effective moisturizer and helps eliminate several skin problems. According to W.G. Goreja, no other oil has the same moisturizing effect on the skin as shea butter.
Jamie Matthews in the book titled “Shea Body Butter Recipes for Beginners: Unlock the True Power of Shea Butter” writes that other oils have a healing effect of 1 % whereas shea butter healing effect on the skin ranges from 5% to 17%.
Jamie Matthews further writes that over the counter traditional lotions and cream contain parabens which causes female cancers such as breast and ovarian cancers. Shea butter contains antioxidants, vitamin E, vitamin A and vitamin C which keeps the skin hydrated, soft and protects the cells from damage. The vitamin C content in shea butter also helps to repair the already damaged skin cells.
- Baking Soda
Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda soak in lukewarm water is said to be effective in treating dry skin. Scrub the dead skin by using a pumice stone after the soak. Apply coconut oil or Vaseline to seal the cracks.
How to Prevent Cracked Heels from Coming Back?
All the remedies mentioned above work. Depending upon your individual choice, you may choose one or a combination of them to treat your cracked heels.
However, the biggest problem is that cracked heels keep coming back. Treating them fast or temporarily is not the actual solution.
How to treat cracked heels permanently and prevent the cracks from coming back?
One thing before everything!
Yes. ONE THINHG!
That is keep them covered. No matter what you do if you wear shoes that expose your heels, these will crack. So either wear shoes that cover your heels or even better wear cotton socks or socks specifically designed for cracked heels.
Also, try to fix the problem from inside too. Like Dr Eric Burg says that no matter whatever you do if you are deficient in certain vitamins especially B3, you will get cracked heels.
So to keep them from coming back and treat them healthy on permanent basis, follow these three steps.
First, use any of the above home remedies or natural OTC like h-cracked heels formula.
Second, make sure you are not deficient in vitamins and minerals. Consider taking a natural multi-vitamin formula such as….
Last and the most important! Keep your heels covered.
If you have tried self-treatment without any success, or you have certain medical conditions (such as diabetes), it is always better to consult your doctor regarding your cracked heels. If you are in the UK, see your GP for possible NHS treatment. If you have a health insurance and you feel to get medical treatment, check with your health insurance company.
A doctor specialising in foot surgeries and treatments is known as podiatric physician or podiatrist.
In case of extremely flakiness or sever dead skin, the doctor may remove the dead skin professionally. A podiatrist may also prescribe stronger gel or agents to soften the skin or even prescribe antibiotics orally or topically in case of severe infection. Another medical treatment is in the form of applying medical glue to seal wide cracks.
In some cases a podiatrist may recommend shoes inserts, pads, or heel cups. Some people may also get cracks due to a problem in their walking. Podiatrist can help in the patient in walking the right way to avoid the problem.
- Cracked heels is a common problem among men and women
- If you have a health condition like diabetes, obesity, thyroid problems and others, it is best to see your doctor to address the root cause.
- If you have no medical condition, cracked heels may be due to bare feet, uncovered heels, vitamin deficiency, hot showers, long standing, inappropriate shoes, climate condition and so on.
- Cracked heels without a medical condition can be treated using over the counter creams or lotions, home remedies, herbal treatments, essential oils, scrubbing, soaks, and covering heels.
- In order to prevent cracked heels from coming back, always wear shoes that cover your heels or put on cotton socks before your go out.