Cracked heels, also known as heel fissures, are a common complaint among people with diabetes. While cracked heels are often caused by dry skin, they can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as diabetes. People with diabetes need to take extra care of their feet, as cracked heels can lead to more serious infections and complications. In this article, we'll explore some useful tips to help diabetics care for cracked heels and keep their feet healthy.
Why Does Diabetes Cause Cracked Heels?
Diabetes may damage the nerves in the feet. Because of nerve damage, the feet are unable to perspire and deliver the necessary moisture to the feet. Consequently, people with diabetes frequently have dry skin on their feet and develop heel fissures.
The presence of cracked heels is not always a sign of diabetes. However, for diabetics, heel fissures present significant health concerns because they can easily become infected and lead to complications that sometimes cause amputation.
For these reasons, anyone who has diabetes should pay close attention to their foot health, including their skin, nails, and footwear. The following five suggestions will help you take care of your cracked heels and create a healthy foot care routine.
1. Everyday Skin Care for Feet
Take daily care of your feet. A simple way to help safeguard your heels is to maintain regular skin care. Use warm water and mild, gentle soap to wash your feet every day. Gently use a pumice stone to massage your cracked heels. Look for any swelling, redness, sores, corns, or calluses between your toes, as well as on the top and bottom of your feet. Dry your feet thoroughly, paying special attention to the space between your toes. Utilize a nail file to smooth any sharp edges in the shape of your toes after cutting your toenails straight across. Every day, moisturize the top and bottom of your feet with lotion.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Recent evidence suggests that Apple Cider Vinegar may be especially helpful in the treatment of diabetes symptoms. Scientists believe that apple cider vinegar has several potential effects on various types of diabetes.
According to Louetta Foot and Ankle Specialists, it might be beneficial to try an apple cider vinegar foot soak for your cracked heels. It creates a soothing soak for the feet when combined with two parts of warm water. Additionally, due to its antifungal properties, it can reduce itching, soften skin, eliminate unpleasant odors, and neutralize infections.
Furthermore, try drinking a glass of water containing one to two spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar before retiring to bed. It could help lower blood sugar levels. Evidence to support this was found in a study where the effect of apple cider vinegar was investigated on normal and diabetic rats. The results showed that apple cider vinegar improved the serum lipid profile in rats. Researchers concluded that ACV could be of significant value in managing diabetic complications.
3. Overnight Relief
For overnight therapy that is highly effective at caring for cracked heels, try applying petroleum jelly before bedtime. Apply a generous layer of Vaseline® Jelly to your heels after a bath or shower, when the skin is soft. To keep the jelly in place, put on a pair of cotton socks; the cotton will allow the skin on your feet to breathe.
To help dry skin become more hydrated, Vaseline® Jelly offers a sealing barrier that locks in moisture. Additionally, it prevents further cracking and drying of the heels. Try this before settling into bed to replenish moisture and promote and safeguard your skin's natural regenerative process—it works!
4. Liquid Bandages
Diabetics may consider using a liquid bandage to cover the heel during the day to provide protection. It can be excruciatingly painful to walk on heels that are cracked to the point where they are bleeding. Experts concur that liquid bandages are a highly effective way to close cracks so that walking on torn skin is less painful while keeping the wounds clean. In addition to easing discomfort and accelerating healing, liquid bandages can prevent pathogens from penetrating the skin.
5. Wear Shoes That Fit Well
It is crucial to wear supportive, high-quality, and comfortable shoes when your heels are painful and cracked. Furthermore, if you have diabetes, wearing shoes that are specially designed can help lower your risk and promote healthy circulation in your feet.
Ideally, your toes should have room to move around, and the shoes should feel snug but not tight. For maximum comfort, the heels must be no more than 5 cm (2 inches) high.
Find a shoe that is light and allows your feet to move and breathe. Pick a flexible material, like suede, canvas, or leather. It's vital to keep in mind that a suitable diabetic shoe should have a shock-absorbing sole to help relieve pressure on the bottom of your foot.
Pay Attention to Your Feet
As a diabetic, you must keep your feet healthy by practicing daily skincare routines and maintaining healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels (speak with your doctor to discuss the levels you should aim for). Remember that high blood sugar levels can harm your feet's nerves and reduce blood flow. Never walk barefoot inside or outside. Blistering, cuts and severely cracked heels can cause serious infections if left untreated. If you have a sore or another foot issue that doesn't start to heal within a few days, speak with your doctor.
Foot Health and Diabetes - The Doctors
Sources and Further Reading
- Diabetes foot care: Why foot care is important
Good foot care (healthy skin, nail care, and proper footwear) is very important for anyone with diabetes, because you have a greater risk of having problems with your feet (such as skin that is dry and cracked, sores, changes in foot shape).
- Do I Need Diabetic Shoes and Where Can I Find Them?
Ask your doctor or podiatrist about special shoes made for people with diabetes. By wearing the right shoes, you’ll be more comfortable and you’ll keep your feet healthier.
- How to heal dry, cracked heels, according to dermatologists
Dermatologists share the causes of dry, cracked heels and the best creams and treatment for them, including foot creams and how to get rid of dry skin.
- Moisturize to Help Heal Dry Cracked Heels | Unilever Vaseline®
Dry, cracked heels are a pain. Here's what causes them and how to fix it.
- Using Vinegar on Cracked Heels | Louetta Foot & Ankle Specialists
Vinegar, while typically used as a cooking ingredient, is very useful in remedying dry and cracked heels. One part of white vinegar, when mixed with two parts of warm water, can be used as a soak for the feet.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2023 Louise Fiolek