Have you been plagued by persistent dry skin heel cracks which make it painful or impossible to wear open backed shoes or sandals? I’ve got a secret weapon that will rescue you from this annoying problem! Well the first and foremost method for controlling heel cracks is to always keep a good foot file on hand for sanding down dry scaly skin. I keep one in the bathroom and use it over the toilet. My favorite foot file is called a Swedish rasp. It has a rough and a not so rough side. It also has a plastic “nubby” side on the handle which is great for scraping off dead skin after getting out of the shower. It’s simply the best rasp on the market! Check out this site for a picture of a Swedish file: www.all-about-bare-feet.com/heelcracks.html
Daily filing cannot be stressed enough. It is THE best way to keep callouses thinned out. The less calloused, dead skin which accumulates on your feet, the less chance of developing painful heel cracks. That’s the good news, here’s the bad. If you’re really over weight, your chances of developing these cracks are much greater and more difficult to control. This is because the extra weight flattens out the fat pad on the bottom of your foot, causing added stress on the sides of your heel and eventually causing the skin to crack open. In order to avoid or control this tendency you must work out a daily routine of exfoliation, as mentioned.
In addition to this, another important routine that I have found to help control heel cracks is to really “grease up.” Every morning before leaving the house, I rub on some type of skin nourishing cream. Then…now brace yourself…I smear on some Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. Yes, that’s right, the real sticky stuff. The first time my mother suggested I do that, I was floored. No way am I going to use that stuff. Let’s face it, Vaseline PETROLEUM Jelly has a real identity crisis! I mean anything with a name like that just can’t be good, right? Wrong. It’s good, it’s really good, because after nourishing my skin really well with my favorite cream, the Vaseline seals in the moisture and keeps my feet looking moist and healthy for a very long time. Lot’s of websites will sell you magical creams which they claim will make your heel cracks disappear but most of them are just petroleum, or another other oil based product with some kind of natural exfoliating agent. Bottom line, only the hard work of daily rasping, combined with a good moisturizer and a few other tricks will keep this issue from reoccurring. I always keep a tube of greasy moisturizer in my purse to reapply during the day. Don’t worry, it absorbs much better than you think and I’ve never had any problem with this.
Now, for my two secret formulas for enjoying moist, healthy heels without the continuous pain of heel cracks. First, when I sense a crack is forming I give my feet a good rasping, and then soak them for 15 minutes in a solution of hot water, epsom salts, a little laundry detergent (yes it’s the softening agents that work so well…I got this tip from an old foot care book I checked out of the library) and any type of good smelling liquid soap, something that will provide a little aroma therapy while you’re treating yourself to this homemade spa treatment. After soaking well, I moisturize my feet, and then cover them with a plastic bag or cling wrap. Finally, I slip on a pair of soft bootie socks and turn in for the night. Sometimes, especially if it’s hot, I won’t make it through the whole night with this treatment, shedding my plastic bags half way through, but most nights I do. In the morning I rasp my feet with the nubby plastic side of my Swedish rasp. After my feet dry out, I rasp again with the finer side and proceed with my regular routine. I usually end up doing this about once every other week or so, in the summer when I’m wearing sandals most of the time. At the beach, the sand tends to cause a lot of drying so I always take my supplies on vacation with me so I can cover my feet if needed.
Now, if this doesn’t work and you are still left with a pesky heel crack that hurts and threatens to open up to be a real hum-dinger, then I recommend breaking out my secret weapon: artificial nail glue. Yes, I got this tip from a medic who said he’s used crazy glue in a “pinch” to close a wound! Doctors use this method also, but they won’t admit it. Here’s a quote from a podiatrist’s website: “on rare occasions some Podiatrists and Dermatologists have used a tissue ‘glue’ to hold the edges of the skin together, so the cracks can heal.” All artificial nail glue is medical grade methyl 2-cyanoacrylate…basically the same stuff used in “tissue glue,” only it’s tinted pink. I have found actual tissue glue at the dollar store, so if you’re the least bit worried about using nail glue, you could look for this product.
Apply the tiniest bit of nail glue to the heel crack and squeeze it shut, holding it there for 15 seconds or so. Don’t walk on it for at least a couple minutes, to allow the glue to really seal. Friends, this works great and has saved me many times when I wanted to walk out the door in my really cute sandals, without having to worry about a really painful crack developing throughout the day. I don’t recommend relying on this method solely. You should try all the other methods for controlling heel cracks and only fall back on this when nothing else is working.
Well, that’s my primer on how to treat, control and eliminate painful, unsightly…(just a nice word for plain ugly) heel cracks. Want more information about other foot care cures, check out All About Bare Feet!