DELLECracked heels are a sign of lack of attention and care for the foot rather than just overexposure to the harmattan or lack of moisturizing.  A cracked heel is also known as heel fissure.

Fissures are linear cut wounds which mostly affect the surface level that comprises the epidermis.   It may get deep into the dermis and become painful.

Excessive pressure on the feet pad makes the feet expand sideways, as the skin surrounding the sides of the feet get dried which causes cracked heels.

Though cracks in the skin may arise anywhere in the body, the most common areas are the rim of the heel and web of toes.  This happens to the most frequently or constantly used parts of our body.

Dry skin or xerosis is one of the most common causes that lead to cracked heels. The other key cause is thick or cellus skin around the rim of the heels.

Most of the foot problems arise due to neglect and oversight with regard to foot care by affected persons.

Speaking to Professor Edmund Nminyem Delle, an internationally renowned Dermatologist, and Chief Executive Officer of Rabito Clinic, he said cracked heels also indicated zinc and omega –3 fatty acid deficiency.

Prof. Delle who is also an adjunct Professor of Dermatology, University for Development Studies (UDS) School of Medicine and Health, said, cracked feet and other common feet ailments could be attended to and easily avoided if care was given to it urgently.

“Cracked heels are not  harmful in anyway except when the fissures or cracks are deep, and tend to become painful and the skin begins to bleed which could lead to infection that is mostly for those who are already suffering from chronic diseases due to age and illness which retard the treatment of cracked heels, he added.

Prof. Delle said affected persons may seek help to cure their dry cracked heels by using relief measures that include home remedy treatment options which help treat fungus.

“Home remedies have some of the best cost effective and result oriented solutions,” he explained.

He urged those affected, to use any shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oil after washing the feet or wear a pair of thick socks overnight which could provide positive results in some few days.

 

Lemon Juice

Soak the feet in lemon juice for about 10 minutes on a weekly basis until one finds a change. Lemon juice is a very mild natural acid which helps to dissolve dead and dry skin.  It is best to soak your feet in lemon juice solution and then lightly scrub it with a loofa or soft foot brush to exfoliate the top layers of dead skin that cause dry, cracked heels.

 

Shea Butter

Apply shea butter every morning and evening after soaking or cleaning the heel with warm water till you notice some improvement.

 

Soapy water

A daily regime of cleaning and moisturizing is a good cure for dry or cracked heels. At the end of the day, soak the feet in warm soapy water for about 15 minutes. Rinse feet and pat dry. Make a healing mixture comprising of: one teaspoon Vaseline and the juice of one lemon. Rub this mixture into the cracked heels and other areas of the feet till it is thoroughly absorbed.

This can be done daily until visible results are obtained. It is best to apply this mixture before you go to bed. You can then put on a pair of thick woolen socks to protect your bed sheet from getting stained. Furthermore, the woolen socks will help to trap body heat and this will increase the effectiveness of the mixture as more of it will be absorbed by the skin.

You can exfoliate the skin before and after using this mixture. The oils in the mixture will help to soften dry and cracked heels and easily slough off the dead skin the next morning.

 

Paraffin Wax

Another result oriented solution is to melt paraffin wax and mix it well with a little mustard oil. Apply on the dry or cracked area of the heels. Rinse it off in the morning. A continuous application for 10 to15 days can achieve desirable results.

Exfoliate

To get rid of dry skin on the heels, exfoliate your feet on a regular basis.

Avoid harsh cosmetic exfoliating scrubs.  Instead, make your own gentle and natural scrub with honey, apple cider vinegar, and rice flour. First, grind a handful of rice into fine but coarse flour; add a few spoons of raw honey to the mixture with enough apple cider vinegar to obtain a thick paste. If the cracks are very deep, you can add a spoonful of olive oil or sweet almond oil to the paste.

Soak feet for 20 minutes and then gently massage them with this paste. The vinegar in the mixture will help dissolve the thickened layers of dead skin while the rice flour will gently abrade the top layer of dead skin. Honey and olive oil act as natural moisturizers and will help to keep the skin on the feet soft and moisturised to prevent further cracking.

Prof. Delle, cautioned those affected by this condition not to depend on cracked heel repair creams on the market since they contained chemicals that could aggravate the skin and increase discomfort.

He urged such persons to make their own moisturising cream by mixing together a spoonful of olive oil along with a few drops of lemon oil or lavender oil.

“Pour this blend of oils into a small bottle and add an equal amount of water to it. Shake the content thoroughly so that the water and oil form a thick milky solution.  Use this home- made remedy for dry cracked heels as and when it is needed.”

The renowned dermatologist urged affected people to visit the hospital for treatment when home remedies do not cure cracked heels.

Story and Photos:  Geoffrey Buta

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