The journey of a thousand miles, they say, begins with a step. But what if you’re unable to put out that step due to painful heels? If your heels hurt regularly, the ideal thing to do is to find out why. But to ease the pain in the meantime, you may need an ointment or a cracked heel cream.
In this buying guide, we will show you how a cracked heel cream works to fix that. We will also share guidelines that would enable you to choose the right one based on your needs.
What Is a Cracked Heel Cream?
A cracked heel cream is a type of foot cream that functions specifically to treat cracks on your feet. It can effectively moisturize your feet, giving them the much needed moisture they lack. It also forms a sort of barrier on the skin that stops moisture from escaping.
How Do Cracked Heels Come About?
When walking and standing, our heels function as cushions that regulate and balance the shock we would tend to experience. The heels stretch and expand in order to accommodate the tension they receive.
However if you suffer from dry feet, the heels would not be able to stretch as they should. Over time, the pressure would cause fissures to appear and cracks develop. And as they worsen, they could appear white, giving an unpleasant overall look to the heels.
Causes of Cracked Heels
The following could cause dry feet…
Extreme Degrees of Temperature
Apart from our daily movement, environmental factors also contribute to the development of cracked heels.
Over-exposure to extreme degrees during hot summers and cold winters as well as hot baths should be avoided. Staying in these extreme temperatures can affect the feet adversely, causing them to dry out. When that dryness occurs, cracked heels are bound to appear.
In addition, when it comes to hot baths, be wary of the kind of soap you use.
Certain medical issues also pose a threat to healthy heels. A good example is diabetes. The excess glucose level in the blood of someone who suffers from diabetes can lead to what is called peripheral neuropathy.
When this occurs, the nerves in the feet get damaged and the circulation of blood is restricted. This could lead to cracked heels.
Cancer treatments could also contribute to the appearance of cracked heels.
Lack of necessary nutrients in our diet could bring about the occurrence of cracks in the heels. Excessive unhealthy and junk food affect our feet more than we could ever imagine.
Another factor that causes cracked heel is old age. As we age, our skin including those on our feet loses its elastic ability. So when stretched it does not easily return to its initial state but sags.
The skin on our feet is naturally thick and since it isn’t elastic, it begins to crack when stretched with age.
Generally, lack of dehydration majorly will cause your heel to crack. Once the water content in your body isn’t adequately sustaining your regular activities, the skin begins to dry up.
Ingredients to Look for in a Cracked Heel Cream
The general effectiveness of a cracked heel cream is mostly the result of the combination of its ingredients.
However, there are certain ingredients that require special recognition. Below are some of them…
Allantoin is a humectant that moisturizes your feet, giving it moisture it naturally lacks and requires. It is a very effective healing ingredient when it comes to treating cracks in the heels.
This is another ingredient that functions as a humectant and is capable of stopping moisture from escaping the skin.
Jojoba oil is an emollient. An emollient is an ingredient that can soften and make the scales of the skin (especially dry skin) soft. It also traps in moisture in the skin keeping it well moisturized.
It has the ability to copy the properties and functions of sebum (the natural oil produced by our skin). What’s more, it regulates the production of oil on the skin.
Tea Tree Oil
This oil is one that works wonders in a cracked heel cream. Tea tree oil has the ability to combat infections that are caused by fungi. In addition, it also fights bacteria on your feet that could cause serious issues. Basically, tea tree oil serves as a healer in a foot heel cream.
Salicylic acid functions as an exfoliator that is known to lessen hyperkeratosis. Hyperkeratosis is an abnormal situation whereby one’s skin is thickened than it normally should be.
Apart from that function, salicylic acid helps in reducing pains and cracks. Most cracked heel creams have a concentration of about 6%. Anything above that can be extreme except the condition is really extreme as well.
But take care: it could cause a sting when applied to broken skin that has their dermal layer uncovered.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
These groups of acids are found in natural products such as fruits, milk and sugarcane. They are excellent exfoliators. Just like salicylic acid, AHAs treat hyperkeratosis as well. Examples of alpha hydroxy acids include citric acid, lactic acid and glycolic acid.
Shea butter functions as an antioxidant, as well as a hydrating and anti-aging ingredient. It is important to have such an ingredient because as we age, our feet tend to get dry.
This would lead to cracked heels in the long run if not properly attended to. So shea butter helps your skin retain its elastic properties which enables it stretch when pressured.
Urea hydrates, heals and battles fungi infection. It helps the skin handle certain skin conditions such as keratosis, eczema, burns, psoriasis, rashes and acne.
In most cracked heel creams, the concentration of urea is 10%. Nevertheless, for severe cases of cracked heels, you could opt for a concentration of about 25%. It was recorded and reported that a 25% concentration of urea healed the skin and reduced pain and dryness in as little as 4 weeks.
Caution is required when using urea. This is because it could cause some sort of pain and stinging effect on the skin if there are cuts or cracks.
An emollient in its own right, lanolin works to eliminate calluses. Callus is a skin area on the feet that has become overly thick as a result of pressure. Treating calluses is important because it may lead to cracked heels as well.
Factors to Consider when Buying a Cracked Heel Cream
The quantity of the cracked heel cream is almost as important as its quality. In making this consideration, you should confirm the recommended application of the cracked heel cream.
Some creams call for lavish usage while others might just need a tiny amount to work. Choose a cracked heel cream that will work effectively and last as well.
A good cracked heel cream does not have to be overly expensive for it to rid you of cracks on your heels. However, we’ve found out as well that unlike general foot creams, cracked heel creams could be a bit pricey. In making this consideration, your budget should guide you.
Degree of the Crack
The level of your cracked heel determines the kind of cracked heel cream suitable to deal with it. If the crack has exposed the dermal level, it is best choose a product that won’t be harsh. This will prevent you from aggravating the pain you might already be feeling.
General Tips to Preventing and Reducing Cracked Heels
Reduce Pressure on the Heels
Reducing the pressure on the heels will either prevent or reduce cracked heels. You could reduce your standing and walking time if possible.
Apart from that, the kind of shoes you wear is a factor that contributes to the appearance of cracked heels. Always go for shoes that have heel cups as they usually will cushion and support your heels.
Reduce the use of flip-flops as much as you can. If you must wear them, they shouldn’t be worn for long-distance walking.
Reduce Exposure of the Feet to the Elements
The elements also affect the skin especially the feet. Sun, wind and dust can cause the feet to dry up, which is the beginner’s step towards a cracked heel. You can prevent this exposure by using shoes that cover up the feet.
Another thing you can do to prevent over-exposure is wearing socks. These cover your feet and will prevent unnecessary friction between your feet and the shoe.
Increase Water Intake
We mentioned earlier that dehydration is a major cause of cracked heels. As a counter measure, drinking enough water will go a long way to prevent as well as reduce those cracks in your heels.
Employ a Heel File
The accumulation of dead skin cells which are the major constituents of calluses become so dry eventually and result into cracked heels.
Therefore, before you use a cracked heel cream it is advisable you use a heel file to remove dead skin cells. This will make the skin more permeable to the cracked heel cream that will be used later on.
See a Podiatrist if a Cracked Heel Cream Doesn’t Work
A cracked heel cream would definitely help alleviate and cause visible healing of cracked heels. Yet some cracked heels cases won’t get solved with the use of a cracked heel cream. In such extreme cases, the best thing to do is to see a podiatrist and get the specialized care and treatment you need.