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What Causes Cracked Heels??

As if our hard-working feet don't hurt enough, some of us have to contend with cracked heels. Learn about the symptoms, risk factors, and diagnosis of cracked heels.

By Diana Rodriguez

Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

When the sensitive skin on the bottom of the feet and heels becomes too dry, it can split open, leaving painful cracks called fissures on your heels. Those cracks may not only make it painful to walk, but can also lead to serious infections.

Cracked Heels: How They Happen 

Cracks in the heels are generally caused by insufficient moisture. These cracks can become sore and may even bleed. Seriously dry feet can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Cold winter weather
  • Dehydration, or not drinking enough water
  • Not moisturizing your feet
  • Taking very hot baths or showers
  • Soaking in a hot bath for too long or too frequently
  • Using harsh, drying soaps on your feet
  • Scrubbing feet dry
  • Having diabetes

"Heel fissures and cracks occur when the skin loses its moisture content and dries out and cracks," says Alan K. Mauser, DPM, a podiatrist in Louisville, Ky.

When the feet become too dry, heel fissures can develop quite easily. "It's kind of like if you put plaster on a balloon and let it harden and blow up the balloon, the balloon will expand the plaster and crack. The heel pad wants to expand outward, but the skin is not pliable enough to expand with it, so it cracks," Dr. Mauser explains.

As the skin cracks, it may begin to bleed. These deep heel fissures can allow bacteria and viruses to enter the body, leading to infection and illness.

Cracked Heels: Risk Factors

The two biggest risk factors for cracked heels are diabetes and obesity, notes Mauser. Diabetics are likely to experience cracked heels because damage to nerves in the feet from uncontrolled blood sugars can cause dry skin. People with diabetes are even more likely to sustain an infection from cracked heels than non-diabetics. If you are diabetic, it is important to examine your feet frequently for signs of cracks or infection.

Obesity increases your chances of having cracked heels because there is even more weight on the heel pad, which causes it to expand out further. Dry skin is unable to handle the added pressure and cracks.

During the winter months, however, anyone can have dry, cracked heels. Regularly taking long, very hot baths and showers can also exacerbate this condition. Additionally, people who don't regularly moisturize their feet with a good, oil-based lotion or moisturizer are more likely to experience heel fissures. Not drinking enough water and poor nutrition are also risk factors for cracked heels.

Diagnosing Cracked Heels

If your heels are cracked and painful, and the condition doesn't improve with an over-the-counter foot lotion, visit a podiatrist to treat the problem. If your heel fissures are "severe enough, we'll make suggestions and help you through it," Mauser says. A podiatrist can treat any associated infection and also offer solutions to help your skin heal properly.

To prevent painful, cracked heels, eliminate risk factors by drinking plenty of water and avoiding excessively hot showers. With a good lotion and a little foot pampering, you'll be kicking up your well-moisturized heels in no time.



10 Basic Foot Care Tips

1. Keep a FlipNFile in your shower or bathroom. Wash your feet every day with soapy warm water. You don’t have to soak them; just give them a couple of minutes’ wash. Use a foot scrub for maximum benefits. Make sure you dry well between the toes to prevent infection, especially if you live in humid climates. With all that heat and humidity, moisture trapped between the toes provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and infection.

2. Cut your toe nails straight across. Don’t go down at the edges, or you run the risk of ingrown toenails.

3. Moisturise your feet regularly. FlipNFile recommends using a good quality cream such as sorbolene with Vitamin E. Coconut oil or Tea tree oil is also great, as it has anti-fungal as well as moisturising properties.

4. Remove dry dead skin with a FlipNFile. Tackle your heels, callouses, or any other patches of dry dead skin, with a FlipNFile. Use the purple side for tougher areas and the black side for smoothing or tamer areas.

5. Limit wearing of high heels where possible. If you wear heels to work every day, at least take a good pair of running shoes and change into them for the walk to and from the bus or train, or if you are stepping out at lunch time.

6. Shop for shoes in the afternoon. Our feet swell throughout the day, so what seems a perfect fit first thing in the morning will likely pinch your feet by nightfall. By trying on shoes in the afternoon, you can guarantee a comfortable fit.

7. Change your socks daily. We can perspire up to ¾ to 1 cup of sweat a day – solely (excuse the pun) through our feet! And please, wear socks in sports shoes. Let your sock be the sponge, not your shoe, otherwise the bacteria living on your sweat will create “stinky shoes”.

8. Rotate your footwear. You don’t have to be Imelda Marcos – whatever constitutes 80% of your week, have at least a couple of pairs on rotation. Use them on alternate days, and leave the pair you aren’t wearing in front of a window, or somewhere they can dry out.

9. Preventing infection. Avoid fungus or plantar warts by wearing flip flops or thongs in communal areas – think swimming pools, amenities blocks when camping, motels, etc.

10. Finally, your feet should be comfortable. If you are experiencing foot pain and discomfort regularly, this is not normal or just a sign of ageing. Ignoring foot pain could result in a chronic long term problem. See a podiatrist.

Does Coconut Oil Work for Cellulitis?

Swelling and red rashes on the skin are no fun, and it could be a bacterial infection called cellulitis, according to PubMed Health. You may also experience a warmth on the skin, sensitivity to touch and fever. While there are a number of natural remedies for cellulitis, coconut oil is said to be highly effective in treating the condition. Coconut oil has certain bacteria-fighting properties that help eliminate the condition. There are also other things you can do along with coconut oil to expedite the healing process.

(Image: maewjpho/iStock/Getty Images)

Possible Causes

Cellulitis is usually caused by one of two common types of bacteria: streptococcus and staphylococcus, according to PubMed Health. One form of bacteria caused by cellulitis is staphylococcus aureus, which is increasingly becoming more antibiotic-resistant. The antibiotics can actually exacerbate the condition, which may make coconut oil a more desirable treatment. The 2013 issue of "BioMed Research International" reports that coconut oil shows strong antibacterial activity against staphylococcus aureus. The most common location for cellulitis is on the lower leg. This condition can develop when you have a disrupted condition on your skin, including scrapes and cuts. The bacteria then infect the region, causing cellulitis. If you are obese, eat poorly and fail to exercise regularly you may also be prone to this condition. Certain hormonal conditions can also cause outbreaks.

Coconut Oil's Active Ingredients

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a saturated fat with healing properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin or glycerol monolaurate, which then helps fight different types of bacteria and viruses. Coconut oil also contains capric and caprylic acid which, along with lauric acid, are known for fighting many types of human ailments: herpes, influenza and HIV or human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, according to Organic Facts.

Coconut Oil Cellulitis Treatment

The best form of coconut oil for treating cellulitis is virgin coconut oil. The saturated fats contained in virgin coconut oil make it an ideal soothing aid for the small blisters and swelling caused by cellulitis. Find a licensed message therapist to administer treatments if you have cellulitis in a place that's hard to reach like the back. They know how to apply the oil so it better seeps into the folds of your skin and pores. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that you avoid massage if you have an active infection, otherwise a lymph drainage massage may help prevent future eruptions.

Things to Consider

Cellulitis can lead to further complications such as deformities, heart problems, fatigue, nervousness, depression, nerve pain and insomnia. Therefore, it is always best to see your doctor before commencing any treatments. Ask your doctor which diet is best for your condition. Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended for cellulitis, as they contain enzymes for fighting infection. You should also drink plenty of water and get lots of exercise. Moreover, exfoliate your skin with a soft brush after bathing. This helps promote blood flow, which sends nutrients to the infected areas.





A pumice stone is a volcanic rock It is typically light in colour. A long time all natural remedy or solution to problem heels for as long as we can all remember. My mum had one of these, my dad had one of these. I’m sure you know someone who has had or uses one. For tame feet that need little effort to maintain. A pumice stone is a nice natural solution to maintain your hands or feet. However if you have a more stubborn heels or calloused hands which is prone to cracking or thicker skin build-up, namely callouses, a FlipNFile is more effective than any other product on the market. 

SCIENTIFIC facts about Pumice.

Pumice is created when super-heated, highly pressurized rock is violently ejected from a volcano. The unusual foamy configuration of pumice happens because of simultaneous rapid cooling and rapid depressurization. The depressurization creates bubbles by lowering the solubility of gases (including water and CO2) that are dissolved in the lava, causing the gases to rapidly exsolve (like the bubbles of CO2 that appear when a carbonated drink is opened). The simultaneous cooling and depressurization freezes the bubbles in a matrix.




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