Beauty basics with SHAHNAZ HUSAIN
Summers are long, hot and dry and cracked heels are common. Dry skin on your feet is caused by various reasons but cracked heels, also referred to as heel fissures, develop mainly due to dehydration, extremely hot conditions and pressure from walking.
About 30% of adults experience cracked skin on their feet. This can occur in both adults and children and seems to affect women more often than men.
If you’ve been outside barefoot, wear open-back shoes or flip-flops, the more pressure you’re putting on the balls of your feet which is not only uncomfortable but over time can lead to bunions and hammertoes.
In summer, many of us like to wear flip flop sandals, Hawaii chappals and this is where the problems lie. Lack of moisturisation, overexposure to pollution, and medical conditions, such as vitamin deficiency, overweight, eczema, diabetes, thyroid, and psoriasis, lead to dry and cracked feet. Ageing can be a factor too, as skin loses its ability to stretch as you get older, so cracks are more common.
If the skin on the heel becomes dry or has grown hard skin or callouses, it is much less supple. When the heel strikes the ground, instead of deforming it is more likely to crack and split causing deep, visible cracks.
Cracked, dry heels can be your worst skin nightmare during summers. They hurt, bleed, are unsightly and get worse in extremely hot weather conditions.
Feet are your physical base. They are what keep you up and running which is why maintaining good foot health is important. The summer weather, especially during extremely hot conditions, causes loss of moisture and further hampers proper blood circulation to the feet. The skin of the feet suffers as a result. The skin on the heels is harder and thicker than most other parts of the body.
Loss of moisture causes the living cells to change into dead horny cells. Therefore, there is a build-up of dead cells. If the lack of moisture proceeds unchecked, cracks develop on the heels and may even extend beyond the dead cells, causing pain. But don’t despair, there are natural ways to get baby soft foot skin.
Once a month, treat your feet to a homemade spa treatment. Soak in a mixture of two cups each of freshly-mashed pineapple, papaya, and hot milk. After 20 minutes, rinse off and apply a rich foot cream.
You should moisturise your feet daily. Give yourself weekly foot treatments at home to revitalise the skin. Soaking the feet in warm water helps to soften the skin and remove dead skin. For daily foot and heel care, apply pure almond oil on the feet daily before your bath and massage it into the skin. After the bath, apply a cream while the skin is still damp. This helps to seal in moisture. Massage the cream into the skin. The feet will remain soft and smooth.
To bring the swelling down after a long, hot day walk, soak your feet in a tub of ice water for 15 minutes. Then pat dry with a towel.
Honey is a natural remedy for common foot problems. Honey contains antimicrobial and antibacterial properties which can heal and cleanse deep cracked wounds and moisturise the skin. Mix one cup of honey in three litres of lukewarm water and soak your feet for 20 minutes. You can use honey as a foot scrub after the soak or apply it as a foot mask overnight. You can repeat it twice in a week.
You can opt for cheap and home remedy available in your kitchen shelf. Take lemon halves and some quantity of sugar. Dip the lemon halves into sugar and scrub on the heels daily and wash off with fresh water. Follow a daily treatment for cracked heels for one week.
At night, before retiring, soak the feet in hot water for about 20 minutes. Add some coarse salt and shampoo to the water, before soaking the feet. Hot water helps to soften the dead skin on the heels.
With the help of a pumice stone or a heel scrubber, rub the heels gently, in order to remove the dead cells. Avoid metal scrubbers. After washing the feet, massage them with cream, rubbing it into the skin. A cream containing lemon and turmeric would be ideal. Bandage the heels with a clean cloth. Then wear cotton socks and go to sleep. This way, the cream will remain on the heels and not get on to the bedclothes. Keeping the heels smeared with cream all night will soften the skin and replenish moisture loss. Repeat this every night for one week.
Coconut oil contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which can help your skin retain moisturised. It is widely used for the treatment of dry skin, eczema, and psoriasis. Not only does coconut oil help retain hydrating water on the skin’s surface, but it also removes dead skin cells.
On top of that, coconut oil can help strengthen tissues underneath the epidermis. Coconut oil can be used in place of your regular foot lotion to prevent cracked heels; consider using it daily. Apply the oil liberally on your feet before going to bed. You will have smoother heels in the morning. Moisturise your feet with coconut oil twice a day when you experience deep cracks.
Prevent cracked heels by soaking, scrubbing, and performing the hot olive oil treatment on your feet twice a week. Apply olive oil with the help of cotton ball and gently massage your feet in a circular motion till the oil is soaked in the skin. Cover the foot with a cotton cloth and wash it after some time with lukewarm water. Apply the oil before going to bed night daily for better results.
Rub olive oil on your heels as soon as you emerge from a shower or bath in the morning, and apply the oil again each night before bed. Wear socks to bed to keep the oil on your feet and off your bedding.
Sesame oil is very useful in treating cracked heels since it is considered to be very nourishing and moisturising. Seasame oil contains vitamins, nutrients and minerals along with its anti-fungal properties. Apply sesame oil on your heels and other parts of the feet and allow it to soak in the skin naturally. You may wash the feet with normal freshwater. Sesame oil soften and soothe dry and cracked feet very efficiently.
Make sure that you bear closed-back shoes and socks since open backs can cause cracked heels and make them deep which causes severe pain sometimes. Also, be sure to match your footwear to the season. Select weather-appropriate footwear to give appropriate protection to your feet and help prevent cracked heels. Use cotton socks and avoid synthetic material socks during summers which can irritate the skin and cause dryness.
Avoid soaps and shampoos which contains strong, harsh chemicals and use homemade skin cleansers with organic ingredients. Make sure to keep cracked heels protected by covering them with a thick layer of cotton cloth to create a protective barrier on the surface of the skin to moisturize dry skin. Consider eating a diet rich in Vitamin E, calcium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids to maintain optimal skin health
You may be tempted to kick off your sandals and walk around the pool club/colony garden barefoot, but you should definitely fight the urge. When you walk around barefoot at the pool or colony garden, there is always a chance of getting fungal infection. Find footwear you will want to slip on so you keep your feet safe.