When I married my husband, he had horribly cracked heels. Apparently, he’d had these most of his life, but as we learned more about natural living, I set out to find natural remedies for it. In the summertime especially, when feet are more exposed (hopefully barefoot or in minimalist shoes), cracked heels can be a problem.
Beyond appearance, cracked heels can be really uncomfortable and can mean anything from minor discomfort to pain and bleeding. My husband and I met walking across the country (true story!) and cracked heels (let alone blisters, shin splints, and other ailments) were our constant companions, so we have a little experience with this.
Why Do I Have Cracked Heels?
Cracked heels can be the result of several things:
- the way a person walks
- poor circulation
- a skin problem like eczema or psoriasis
- fungal infection
- nutritional deficiencies, especially omega-3 or zinc deficiency
It’s not something we think about every day, but feet do need special care just like other parts of our body… if not more, because they work harder!
Let’s see how to size up the situation.
Cracked Heels: The Cure Fits the Cause
Since cracked heels have a variety of causes, it is important to find the root of the problem.
The condition of skin often reflects internal health (or problems). Deficiencies of zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 can contribute to chronically cracked heels. I’ve seen this condition improve with dietary changes, such as adding fat-soluble vitamins and getting gelatin in the diet.
Personally, we take omega-3 supplements daily and make it a point to consume wild-caught fish to maintain omega-3 levels. Since zinc is important for men’s health, my husband also takes a zinc supplement regularly.
Externally, cracked heel causes can include skin conditions or fungal infections. Often these can be helped with regular detoxifying foot soaks or a concentrated salve.
As a general rule, I suggest trying any remedy for at least a few weeks to see if it is working. For best results, try external and internal approaches at the same time.
Cracked Heel Remedy #1: Diet
- Consume enough zinc, magnesium, and omega-3s in food or supplement form
- Consume gelatin and vitamin C (which increases skin elasticity) to help reduce cracking
- Optimize fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D and vitamin K (found in grass-fed butter or supplements)
- Consume foods like bone broth and organ meats
- Drink more water and increase intake of trace minerals
Cracked Heel Remedy #2: A Little TLC
- Exfoliate with a natural pumice stone or Ped Egg (looks like a cheese grater but it works)
- Soak in detoxifying food baths or regular detox baths (here are my three favorite recipes)
- Add ½ cup of apple cider vinegar to a warm foot soak
- Use magnesium oil on the feet before bed
- Use a homemade nourishing foot salve (see below) each morning and night
- Exfoliate feet in the shower with natural foot scrub like my homemade peppermint magnesium foot scrub
The Recipe: DIY Foot Salve for Cracked Heels
- ¼ cup shea butter
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 3 TBSP beeswax
- ¼ cup magnesium flakes + 2 TBSP boiling water (or ¼ cup of pre-made magnesium oil, though this won’t yield as much magnesium in the final product)
- 10 drops oregano essential oil (Not for use during pregnancy or on children.)
- 10 drops peppermint essential oil
- Pour 2 tablespoons of boiling water into the magnesium flakes in a small container and stir until dissolved. This will create a thick liquid. Set aside to cool.
- Set a quart-size mason jar inside a small pan with 1 inch of water. Add the coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter to the jar. Melt slowly over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- When melted, remove the jar from the pan and let the mixture cool until room temperature and slightly opaque. At this point, put into a medium bowl or into a blender.
- If in a bowl, use a hand blender or immersion blender on medium speed and start blending the oil mixture.
- Slowly (starting with a drop at a time) add the dissolved magnesium mixture to the oil mixture while continuing to blend. Continue until all of the magnesium mix is added and it is well mixed.
- Add the oregano and peppermint essential oils (if using) and whip until combined.
- Put in the fridge for 15 minutes and re-blend to get body butter consistency.
- Store in fridge for best consistency (and a cooling lotion feel), or at room temperature for up to two months.
Apply the salve to cracked heels at night.
For best results, a few steps are needed:
- Exfoliate feet while dry, using the pumice or Ped Egg.
- Do a detoxifying foot soak. Let skin dry fully.
- Apply a thick coat of salve. Wear socks to bed to keep salve where it’s needed (and to keep sheets clean).
- Repeat as needed until problem resolves!
Note: Do not use oregano or peppermint essential oils on children or while pregnant. As with any medical condition, check with a doctor if things don’t improve or if you have any specific concerns.
That’s it! Show your nails some TLC and you have a pair of beautiful and healthy feet ready for summer!
Do you have cracked heels? What natural remedies have you tried? Share below!
Discussion (111 Comments)
Just wondering if you sell any of your DIY? 🙂
At this time, no.
Are magnesium flakes and epsom salt the same?
No… Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate and magnesium flakes are magnesium chloride. Generally the magnesium chloride is more easily absorbed.
Could you use Epsom salts, though, in place of the magnesium flakes?
Why no Oregano or Peepermint Essential oil for the kiddos?
Oregano is just very powerful and can cause irritation. Peppermint is dangerous… It can cause sever breathing problems in very small children.
I have experienced painful cracks and something that has really helped me is plain, white vinegar. Soak your feet in it (full-strength) for around 20 minutes once a week. This will help exfoliate all of the dead skin and has helped other healing salves work their magic. I have noticed a tremendous improvement from doing that once a week, so I wanted to share this with others in case it might help.
Thanks Wellness Mama for all you do! You’re AWESOME!
I have ugly cracked heels. Can’t stand it. I will try this. Thanks.
If I have magnesium powder (natural calm) can I use that instead of magnesium flakes for the recipes?
I don’t see why not… It will probably mix in very well. Let us know if you try it, and how it works out!
Would it work to dissolve the magnesium flakes directly into the oil? Eliminating the water would allow the salve to last indefinitely wouldn’t it?
I wondered about this, too. Using water to dissolve the magnesium flakes, wouldn’t this salve need a preservative?
I made this cream this morning, and since my magnesium flakes were watery after I dissolved them I added more to make a paste. I would NOT recommend doing this! The salve was like packing salt into my sensitive cracked feet and it burned terribly. Since I did this right before leaving the house for work, I suffered through on the train ride. Now the salve has absorbed and it no longer burns, but my heels are red and raw. I am going to make an extra batch without the magnesium flakes and mix the two together in hopes of balancing out the mixture. Otherwise, it was a very creamy salve, similar to Bag Balm but a bit thicker.
I use a pumice stone when showering daily. Then apply aveeno with a bit of lavender oil – it has really worked for me. If I need intense hydration- at night- I use aquapor then put some socks on…. it does wonders!
Was wondering if it would it be possible to grind up a magnesium tablet to use instead of the flakes? Thank you! 🙂
Im not a mom yet but I love your ideas! Especially the home made body creams ?
For 50years now. my mother has very serious and severe crack we have many ways yet the crack remains. what do i do?