Wintertime can pose problems for your skin, especially on your feet. In fact, cracked feet is a common winter problem that many people suffer from. It is characterized by dry, hard and thickened skin around the rim of the heel.
Though the problem of cracked feet can affect anyone, it is more common among people who have eczema, diabetes, or the elderly.
The skin on our feet is usually dry, as there are no oil glands in the skin on the feet. Overexposure to cold weather, lack of moisturizing, low humidity, prolonged standing, and certain medical conditions can cause dry and cracked feet.
However, keeping your feet crack-free this winter is surprisingly easy. With a little care, you can pamper your feet and keep them soft and smooth.
Here are the top 10 tips to keep your feet healthy this winter.
1. Warm Water Soak
A warm water soak once a week can keep your feet healthy and crack-free year-round and especially in the winter. This type of regular soak makes it easy to get rid of the hard skin that otherwise builds up on your feet and heels.
- Mix some mild liquid soap in a foot tub filled with warm water.
- Add a handful of sea salt to it.
- Soak your feet in this warm, soapy water for about 20 minutes.
- After soaking your feet, use a pumice stone to gently scrub off the loosened dead skin cells.
- Rinse off your feet with clean water and pat dry with a soft towel.
- Apply some foot cream and wear a pair of clean cotton socks.
- Use this remedy once a week.
2. Oil Massage
If you have a tendency to develop dry and cracked feet, it is very important that you regularly massage them with some oil.
An oil massage will keep the hard skin moisturized and also improve blood circulation to your feet.
For massaging, you can use any massage oil alone or mix some oils together to get added benefits.
- At night before going to bed, wash your feet with warm water.
- Pat dry thoroughly, especially between your toes.
- Massage your feet and heels with olive, coconut or almond oil – or a mixture of these oils – for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Put on clean socks and go to sleep.
- Continue this throughout the winter months.
3. Brown Sugar Scrub
The small and gentle granules of brown sugar work as a great scrub for your feet. It can easily scrub away the dead skin cells so that the skin on your feet remains healthy and soft.
In addition, brown sugar contains glycolic acid that can fight off bacterial infections.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and ½ teaspoon of lemon juice to form a thick paste.
- After soaking your feet in warm water for 10 minutes, apply this paste on your feet.
- Rub the paste around in circular motions until the sugar granules melt away.
- Wash your feet with warm water.
- Repeat once a week.
The glycerin that you have in your cabinet can do wonders in keeping your feet soft and crack-free throughout the winter months.
Due to its moisturizing and humectant properties, glycerin works as a great remedy to prevent cracks on the feet.
- Mix together equal amounts of glycerin and rose water.
- Rub it on your heels and feet before going to bed at night.
- Wear socks and leave it on overnight.
- The next morning, rinse your feet with lukewarm water.
- Do this daily during the winter months.
5. Paraffin Wax
Paraffin wax is highly effective if you already have cracked and painful heels. It works as a natural emollient to soften your skin. Plus, the heat of the wax helps open skin pores and improves blood circulation.
- Melt one block of paraffin wax in a double boiler.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of mustard oil or coconut oil into the melted wax.
- Allow the mixture to cool until a thin layer forms on the top.
- Dip your feet in the mixture, wait 5 to 10 seconds and dip again. Do this 5 or 6 times.
- Cover your feet with plastic wrap and leave it on for 30 minutes. You can also put on a apair of socks.
- Finally, remove the plastic and peel the wax off your skin.
- Repeat this treatment 1 or 2 times a week.
Note: Never dip your feet in the paraffin wax mixture when it is hot. This treatment is not recommended for those who are diabetic or have poor circulation.
6. Fruit Packs
You can prevent as well as treat cracked feet with homemade fruit packs. For instance, ripe bananas, avocados and papayas are considered effective home remedies for cracked and dry heels, thanks to their moisturizing properties.
- Apply the pulp of a ripe banana or avocado on the cracked parts of your heels and feet. Keep it on for about 10 minutes, then wash it off with lukewarm water. Do this a few times a week to enjoy soft and smooth skin.
- You can also make a pack with equal amounts of ripe banana and avocado. Add a little coconut oil and honey. Apply the pack to your feet for 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, rinse it off using lukewarm water. Do this once a week.
7. Castor Oil
Castor oil can miraculously soften and moisturize your feet. Rich in nutrients and vitamins, castor oil easily penetrates deep into the skin. Thus, when applied to the feet, it helps restore the moisture and adds softness to the skin.
- Simply apply a thick layer of castor oil on your feet and cracked heels, put on socks and leave it on overnight. The next morning, rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this daily.
- Alternatively, mix equal parts of castor oil and coconut oil and massage it into the dry skin on your feet. Wait 20 to 30 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Repeat daily before taking a shower.
8. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect skin cells from harmful free radicals produced by the body and other environmental sources.
This vitamin helps repair the skin and can do wonders in treating and preventing cracked feet.
- You can rub pure vitamin E oil on your feet daily before going to bed.
- Include foods rich in vitamin E in your diet. You can find this vitamin in foods like green vegetables, nuts, fortified cereals and whole-grain products. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E is 15 mg daily.
- You can also use topical creams and ointments containing vitamin E on your feet to prevent cracks from developing.
9. Vitamin C
Similar to vitamin E, vitamin C protects the skin from free radicals. Free radicals can cause great damage to the skin, leading to dry skin or cracks.
This water-soluble vitamin is also crucial in the production of collagen, which is needed for healthy skin. In fact, a deficiency of vitamin C can cause skin dryness. Along with vitamin C, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids are also good for facilitating skin repair and wound healing. In fact, a deficiency of these nutrients could contribute to cracked feet.
- Eat foods high in vitamin C including citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, cauliflower, red peppers and pineapple. In addition, include omega-3 and zinc-rich foods in your diet. Some good sources of these nutrients include fatty fish, oysters, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and fortified cereals.
- You can opt to take a supplement after consulting your doctor.
10. Water Intake
Proper water intake is important for maintaining healthy cell metabolism. A dehydrated body can lead to dry skin and also cannot repair existing skin damage.
If your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, it will become tight and less resilient, which means your feet become more prone to cracks and fissures.
- Drink an ample amount of water throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to drink enough water that your urine has little to no color.
- Along with water, include water-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- As healthy feet start with good hygiene, make sure to keep them clean and dry all the time.
- Do not use products containing alcohol, as it will further dry out the skin.
- Always apply a thick foot cream on your feet after bathing.
- Avoid using hot water for bathing, as it removes the oils from the skin.
- Avoid saunas and steam baths, as they may contribute to skin dryness.
- Always wear properly fitting shoes to allow your feet to breathe.
- Winter weather and central heating can cause dry and cracked skin. Remember to moisturize your feet several times a day during the winter.
- Prevent heat loss from your feet by wearing good quality socks.