Article by Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu) Ph.D (Ayu).
Cracked heels with deep fissures is seen more in women than in men. As per Ayurveda, it is seen more in individuals walk too long, that too on rough and uneven ground. It is caused due to Vata Dosha imbalance. The treatment involves oral medication, external application of remedies and appropriate diet and lifestyle changes.
The incidence remains in little higher range among the individuals who spend their much of the time in domestic works that too in household works in their garden or kitchen gardens.
The frequency is highest in those who do not use foot wears, especially among washer men, gardeners, cleaners/scavengers, draftsmen, liftmen, potters etc.
Weight lifters, bare foot walkers (priests, seers etc) and in the individuals who walk for long are affected easily and very badly by foot crack.
Cracked heels condition is called ”Padadari’ in Ayurveda. Paada means feet / heels. Dari, Darana means cracking. It is grouped under minor health complaints (Kshudra Rogas). Most of the time it is a harmless complaint, but causes disturbance to daily routines.
Common causes for cracked heels:
Walking on uneven, rough surface
Bare foot walk
Vatic (dry, light, cold) food intake that have bitter, astringent and pungent taste
Excess betel nut chewing (common in India)
Intake of coffee etc. deep penetrating drinks for long period and in larger dose
Late night work (night shift work)
Unhygienic conditions of feet
Prolonged standing on hard floors
Intake of food which causes dryness-lightness-cold and roughness in the body like the beaten rice, pulses, bitter gourd, mustard, pickle, salty food etc
Exposure to cold and dry atmosphere
Cold and dry seasons and locations
Night awakening/reduced sleep
Grief, stress, jealousy etc
Less intake of milk and milk products, ghee/butter and its derivatives etc
Less intake of fruits and vegetables
Regular non vegetarian diet etc
Origin of foot crack
Origin of the discomfort –Foot crack:
Due to the above said factors Vata dosha is aggravated and hence Rookshata (dryness)-the typical character of Vata is aggravated in localized area.
Dryness and roughness are inter related and hence the cracking is found in the skin surface of sole (and also palm).Thus the condition Foot crack is found.
Similarly lip crack and skin crack may be caused depending upon the severity and kind of food and habits.
Clinical features of cracked feet:
1. Dryness of the foot
2. Cracking / fissures
3. Red and flaky patches
4. Itching of the skin
5. Painful condition of sole and palm
6. Often associated with bleeding and burning sensation (when there is Pitta imbalance)
Sushruta specifies that, due to the above said factors as well as vatic food and habits, Vata is aggravated and produces fissures in the soles or the feet. The similar complaint may be found even in palm also.
In severe cases cracked heels become infected and lead to cellulitis (swelling with redness and fluid collection). In neglected cases, especially in diabetic patients, neuropathic damage may cause diabetic foot ulcers.
Ayurvedic herbal treatment plan for foot cracks:
Cracked heel being a minor Vata disorder, is managed effectively and easily by Vata pacifying measures such as
oleation(snehana) – medicated oil application,
sudation (swedana) – mild sweating
external application (lepana)- application of herbal creams,
moisturizers (kledana) etc.
Ayurvedic home remedies for cracked heels:
1. Take 30 ml (one ounce) of neem oil, to it add 90 ml (three ounce) of sesame oil. Mix well. to this add one teaspoon of each of turmeric powder, neem powder, 3 – 4 small boiled aloe vera pieces, sandalwood powder and mix well. This can be applied on daily basis. (not all the powders are very essential.)
2. If it is associated with burning sensation, then the same combination can be made with ghee in place of neem oil and sesame oil.
3. We have learnt about water washed ghee. to a cup of this ghee, add a teaspoon of turmeric, licorice powder, neem powder sandalwood powder (as many powders as you can get. not all are very necessary).
4. A cup of ghee plus 3 teaspoons of turmeric in itself is a very simple effective combination.
Home remedies for Foot crack:
Take about 100 ml of Sesame oil (or coconut oil; or any suitable edible oils) and warm it.20 gram of bee wax is dissolved in it on warming. Then it is allowed for cooling. It gets converted into a semisolid/greasy mass. This is applied to the lesion of foot crack, after the thorough wash of the foot.
Mix equal amount of castor oil and sesame oil (say 50 ml each).This is warmed a little by adding a little amount of camphor (5 gram).On self-cooling this is applied to the area of foot crack.
Regular application pacifies the complaint of foot crack.
Single herbs used in treatment of cracked feet:
1. Madhucchishta (bee’s wax) – many ointments are made out of bee wax base, useful in cracked heel.
2. Manjishta – Rubia cordifolia – calms pitta, heals wounds.
3. Sarjarasa – Shorea robusta – narrows down the fissures, improves healing
4. Sariva – Hemidesmus indicus – calms Pitta, heals wounds
5. Kumari – Aloe vera – excellent for skin health
6. Ghrita – ghee
7. Gairika – Red ochre – one of the best wound healing ingredients
8. Nimba – Neem – Azadirachta indica – disinfects and heals the cracks
9. Chandana – Sandal wood – Santalum album – calms Vata and Pitta. absorbs moisture. Sanitizes the area.
10. Haridra – Turmeric – Curcuma longa – anti inflammatory, heals wounds
11. Yashtimadhu – Indian liquorice – Glycciriza glabra – anti inflammatory, heals wounds
12. Tila taila – Sessame oil
Ayurvedic medicines for cracked heels:
Shatadhouta ghrita – 100 times washed ghee
Rasottamadi lepa etc
Patent products used in my clinical practice –
Dermex ointment (Alva pharmacy)
Kusumolin (Kumar ayurvedashrama)
Arshonyth (Charak) etc
Internal medication of significant benefit:
Kamadugha with mouktika
Agnipalini(Acharya Sushruta Pharmacy)
Ayush syrup (Alva pharmacy)
Nannari sharabath (B V Pandith) etc
1. Kooshmanda – ash gourd
2. Trapusa – cucumber
3. Ghrita – ghee
4. Narikela paya – Tender coconut water
5. Navaneeta – butter
6. Shikharini – lassy
7. Phala varga – fruits
1. Sarshapa– mustard and mustard oil usage – causes Pitta imbalance and worsens the fissures of cracked heals and causes burning sensation
2. Taila bhrishta ahara – Oil fried food
3. Theekshna – ushna ahara(warm and spicy food)
4. Karavellaka – Bitter gourd
5. Maricha – Pepper
6. Lanka – Chilly etc which cause Vata and Pitta imbalance.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do’s and Don’ts in Foot crack:
The factors mentioned under the heading of causative factors are to be avoided. Spicy and salty food will worsen the condition. Coffee and Cigarette smoking have direct effect over foot crack and hence they should be avoided from day one of its treatment.
Milk, tender coconut and its pulp, fruits and vegetables, sufficient amount of water will bring significant benefit in foot crack.
Cracked heel is a simple, minor health complaint, which is usually and more predominantly found in rainy and winter seasons. Even though it is not causing severe health issue, it leads to disturbance to the routine household works due to the pain. Careful watch on the hygienic factors and non-spicy food and habits and a few home remedies and right diet will help to prevent as well as cure this complaint.
Consult Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu) PhD (Ayu)