The bare essentials

Whether you love to walk barefoot, in sandals, or live in a dryer climate than the coast, one’s heels (and often our elbows) tend to suffer!

I am sure everyone has, at one stage or another, had cracked heels!  This is because our feet are exposed more to the elements from wearing sandals or walking barefoot.  Don’t be fooled – wearing the wrong shoes, or same pair of shoes every day, can also play a role. 

Why does it happen?  In a nutshell; when the skin is either exposed to the elements or to pressure from walking, the skin around the heels thicken and harden as a protective measure.  The harder and thicker the skin becomes, the bigger chance you have of developing corns or calluses.

The cushions under the toes can also thicken and harden to protect itself; so make sure to take care of that part of the feet too.  This often happens when you are wearing the wrong shoes, very high heels, or the same pair of shoes each day.

Indeed, children have to wear school shoes every day.  But it is always a good idea to tell them to walk barefoot at home or swop the shoes for another pair. The same tip an be given to adults.  During the lovely warm, summer days, it is advisable to walk barefoot as much as possible. 

If not allergic or sensitive to grass, it is a good idea to walk in the garden barefoot as well.  Not only will it massage the feet and stimulate blood flow and circulation, but it will also ground you again and give you a massage.  During winter it is a good idea to keep your feet, just like the rest of your body, well-moisturized. Using a good cream / heal balm, as well as drinking plenty of water and other fluids, will keep your skin hydrated. The dryer your skin, the more hydration you need – both internally as well as externally.

There are various products on the market that treats dry, cracked heels.  One can also use natural, homemade products.  Here are a few products to use:

1. Vegetable Oil

A variety of vegetable oils can be used to treat and prevent cracked heels. Olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil or any other hydrogenated vegetable oil will work. For best results, use this remedy before going to bed to allow ample time for the oil to fully penetrate your skin.

2. Rice Flour

Exfoliating the skin on your feet and heels will help remove dead skin, thus preventing cracking and dryness. Rice flour can be used a part of a homemade exfoliating scrub.

3. Indian Lilac

Indian lilac, also known as margosa leaves or neem, is an effective remedy for your cracked feet, especially when they become itchy and infected. Neem soothes a dry, irritated skin and fights off infection too, thanks to its fungicidal properties. If you’ve never used it before, try a small area first.

4. Lemons

The acidic property in lemons can be very effective in softening rough skin that leads to cracking. You can either used sliced lemons or just the juice. When using sliced lemons, you can keep them in place by wearing socks overnight. Otherwise, massaging lemon juice into the heels after exfoliating it with a pumice stone, can also do the trick.

5. Rosewater and Glycerine

The combination of glycerine and rose water makes an effective home treatment for cracked heels. Glycerine softens the skin, which is why it is widely used in cosmetics. Rose water adds vitamins A, B3, C, D, and E as well as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

6. Paraffin Wax

If the condition of the cracks on your heels is really bad and causing a lot of pain, a paraffin wax treatment can provide quick relief. It works as a natural emollient to soften your skin.

7. Epsom Salt

If you have cracked heels, it’s important to take extra care to keep your heels well moisturized. You can do this simply with an Epsom salt or a sea salt foot soak. It will also help improve circulation, is a great way of getting rid of toxins in the body and also balances the body’s pH-levels. Combining the salt with a few drops of lavender oil also helps to relax the feet and get rid of tension / stiffness.

8. Bananas

Ripe bananas are one of the cheapest home remedies for cracked and dry heels, thanks to their moisturizing properties. You can make a paste by mashing a banana and leaving the paste on for 10 – 15 minutes, or you can use the banana peels.

9. Honey

Honey has moisturizing and antibacterial properties, making it an excellent treatment for dry and cracked heels. Many hand-, foot- and body lotions add honey and/or coconut milk to their products. Both are good products that helps to lock the moisture in.

10. Petroleum Jelly

You can use petroleum jelly on dry, rough skin to prevent cracked heels and leave your feet soft and well moisturized, as well as on other parts of the body that are exposed to the elements (elbows and lips, for example).

Moisturizing every time after a bath or shower is another good idea.  While the skin is still warm, the moisturizer will be absorbed faster. 

Lastly, don’t underestimate good old fashion Vaseline! There are so many different brands to choose from today. The best tip is to look for a product that is rich, but not oily, has added vitamin E, glycerine, and/or argan oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, or any other ingredient in, that will give your skin an extra boost during winter.

It is also a good idea to put cotton socks on after your feet has been exfoliated and moisturized.  The socks will help with the absorption of the moisturizer, while at the same time keeping your heels soft.

As I mentioned earlier – make sure to drink plenty of water! A dry, flaky / cracked skin is often a sign that you need to up your water intake, as well as adding more Omega 3 & 6-oils to your diet.

Our feet are the one part of the body that we sometimes neglect, but the part of the body that does a lot of work!  So; whether you go for a pedicure or treat yourself to a homemade recipe, keeping your heels soft will keep calluses and corns at bay!

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