The bare essentials.
During these summer months more skin is exposed, which I have no problem with at all! However, living in Gauteng, where the air is dryer than at the coast, one’s heels 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 can be given to adults. During these 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 dry, irritated skin and fights infection, thanks to its fungicidal properties.
The acidic property in lemons can be very effective in softening rough skin that leads to cracking.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Ripe bananas are one of the cheapest home remedies for cracked and dry heels, thanks to their moisturizing properties.
Honey has moisturizing and antibacterial properties, making it an excellent treatment for dry and cracked heels.
- Petroleum Jelly
You can use petroleum jelly on dry, rough skin to prevent cracked heels and leave your feet soft and well moisturized.
These abovementioned products can also be used on your elbows; another part of the body where there is less flesh and fat and more exposed to the weather. Moisturizing every time after a bath or shower is another good idea. While the skin is still warm, the moisturizer will be absorbed faster.
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.
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 our heels soft will keep calluses and corns at bay!
By: Ezette Viljoen (Health & Fitness Editor)