Autumn 2015 True Natural Health Magazine – Your Questions Answered
By Roger French
QUESTION: Could you please give me advice on how to heal cracked heels. Seems to be a particular problem for women in their 30s?
Cracked heels are a very common problem. The cracks can be quite sore at times, and in extreme cases can result in bleeding and even infection.
Cracked heels and other foot cracks are usually caused by a combination of pressure and dry, non-pliable skin. Standing and walking cause pressure.
Here are home remedies for cracked heels that can be tried.
Overnight absorption. There are a number of vegetable oils that can be used to treat cracked heels. They include olive oil, sesame oil, almond oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, cocoa butter, shea butter or any other pure vegetable oil. Olive, sesame, almond oil and coconut oil are said to be very effective.
At bedtime scrub the feet with a pumice stone then wash thoroughly. The oil is then spread liberally over the heels and soles, and kept covered all night by a pair of clean, thick cotton socks. This will allow adequate time for the oil to be absorbed and make the heels considerably softer. Repeat a few times until the cracked skin has healed.
Regularly massaging with oil. For deep cracks, simply massage oil into the skin of the feet on a regular basis. Be sure not to use harmful cosmetic products, just use pure natural oils, good ones being olive, sesame, almond or coconut oils. Leave the oil on the feet as long as possible.
Rice Flour Scrub
Rice flour can be used to exfoliate dead skin from the feet. Place in a bowl a few teaspoons of honey and apple cider vinegar with coarsely ground rice flour and mix well to make a thick paste. For deep cracks, add a tablespoon of olive oil or almond oil. First soak the feet in warm water for 10 – 20 minutes, then gently massage them with the rice flour paste. Can be left on overnight and washed off in the morning. This remedy has been found to be effective for cracked feet.
Banana Foot Pack
Ripe banana also makes a good home remedy. Mash ripe bananas to a lump-free paste and spread over the areas of cracked skin. Allow to remain on for about 20 minutes or overnight if convenient. Again, cotton socks could be used to protect the paste before washing off. Repeat as often as necessary or on a regular basis.
Neem, or Indian lilac, acts as a natural fungicide and is very effective for cracked heels. Pound a handful of leaves to a fine paste, then mix in three teaspoons of turmeric powder. Spread over the cracks and leave for about 30 minutes. Wash off and dry the feet. Hopefully, this won’t sting too much.
This could sting a lot, so is used to reduce rough skin before it begins to crack. Either apply lemon juice neat or else add to warm water and soak the feet in it for up to 15 minutes. Make sure that the water is not very hot as this could cause the skin to dry out even more. Scrub the feet with a pumice stone and pat dry. Repeat daily as required.
Vaseline and Lemon Juice
This uses Vaseline to dilute and retain the lemon juice. In the evening, soften the feet by soaking in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes, then dry. Mix one teaspoon of Vaseline with a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice and rub over the cracked areas for long enough to get it absorbed. Preferably leave on overnight, protected by a sock, and wash off next morning. Repeat nightly. It’s possible that a week will achieve crack-free feet.
Honey – especially if it’s manuka honey – is a powerful antibacterial with great moisturising properties. Pour one cup of pure honey into half a bucket of warm water, stir and soak the feet in it for about 20 minutes. Scrub the skin gently and dry.
Stir jojoba or olive oil into one tablespoon of powdered oatmeal until it’s a thick paste. Spread over the cracked skin and rinse off after about 30 minutes. Repeat regularly.
Raw papaya or pawpaw is a great remedy for many skin ailmants. Papaya and pawpaw contain an enzyme, papain, that helps to digest proteins. Mash papaya to a fine slurry and spread it over the cracked skin.
If things are desperate and there is worrying pain, paraffin wax might provide relatively prompt relief. Heat a mixture of paraffin wax and mustard oil or coconut oil until the wax has melted. After it has cooled sufficiently, spread it over the cracked skin. This is another treatment can be applied at bedtime and washed off in the morning.
Plenty of Vitamin E
If you suffer cracked feet, it is especially important eat wholesome foods and to avoid junk foods. In particular, make sure of obtaining plenty of vitamin E. Some of the foods rich in Vitamin E are wheat germ oil, unrefined oils, almonds, hazel nuts, Brazil nuts, millet, brown rice, butter and whole egg.
Ensure Adequate Water
Be sure to drink adequate water so that the skin is well hydrated.
WHAT THE PROFESSIONALS SAY
A podiatry practice, Podantics Podiatry, gives the professionals’ summary of how to heal cracked heels (http://www.podantics.com.au/heel-callus-cracked-heels.html)
They say, not surprisingly, that “The quickest way to baby smooth heels is to visit your podiatrist who can safely remove the dead skin.” The podiatrist can also give the right advice on how to keep your heels in great condition.
Podantics Podiatry have their own tips for treatments that can be done at home. Their first is to apply a heel balm or oil-based moisturiser twice daily. The heel balm makes the skin more elastic and less likely to crack during the day’s walking.
Their second tip – for less severe cases – is to make the skin less thick so that it won’t crack so easily. ‘File’ away at the skin with a pumice stone or foot file, which is like a large emery board. In more severe cases, a podiatrist can remove the thick layer of the heel callus.
Thirdly, wear closed-in shoes and good socks when you can.
Fourthly, if cracks are very painful and bleeding, a podiatrist can explain how to use a rigid sports tape to keep the cracks closed to enable them to heal.