Cracked heels are known medically as heel fissures and are most often the result of extremely dry skin, or xerosis. In fact, deep cracks can form along the back edges of the heel that are painful and sometimes deep enough to bleed. For most people, this condition is annoying, but in diabetics and those with poor circulation, deep heel cracks can provide a portal for infection, the website Foot Pain Explained notes. There are a number of creams available to effectively treat cracked heels, but consult your physician before using any.
Ammonium Lactate Moisturizers
Ammonium lactate creams are used to soften and moisturize dry, scaly skin. Drugs.com reports, ammonium lactate creams, such as Lac-Hydrin, are humectants that increase the amount of water in the skin and act to make skin softer and less dry. Ammonium lactate cream is for external use only and may cause burning or stinging when applied to open skin. Side effects are few, but include irritation, redness, itching and sensitivity to the sun. Its use is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Allergic reactions are possible, so any sign of hives or difficulty breathing should be reported to your physician immediately.
Urea creams, such as Keralac, are used to heal certain skin conditions, but can also be used to treat heel fissures. Urea creams contain both an emollient and a keratolytic that work together to moisturize and remove dry, cracked skin. The emollient imparts an oily layer on top of the skin that holds in water and the keratolytic works by dissolving the horny layer of skin, softening it. Urea creams are for external use only, and should not be used near the mouth or eyes. Side effects include irritation and stinging. An allergic reaction is possible and should be reported to your doctor at once.
Petroleum jelly is an over-the-counter preparation that is a mixture of mineral oil, paraffin and waxes. Petroleum jelly melts into the skin and creates a moisture barrier that protects skin from drying out. Petroleum jelly is very oily, so it's best to slather it on the feet at night before bed, covering the feet with clean 100 percent cotton socks to protect the bedsheets from staining. Lately, there are some concerns about the safety of petroleum jelly, mostly due to its impurities, and its use has been banned in Europe.
Baby oil is a time-honored way of treating dry skin, including cracked heels. For best results, CNN Health suggests applying it when the skin is still damp from a bath or shower. Oils lasts longer on the skin than water-based moisturizers. It works by sealing the water in the skin, preventing evaporation.
Shea butter is another type of cream that can be used to prevent dry, cracked heels.Foot Pain Explained says, people who are sensitive or allergic to other emollients and moisturizers may better tolerate Shea butter. Shea butter, extracted from the seeds of the Shea tree, is a mild compound that has no chemical additives, artificial colors or scents. It is a humectant that helps hold water in the skin.