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Feet: Shea butter to combat cracked heels

Chaps are cracks in the skin that can extend deep down and reach the dermis. Beyond their appearance, they can become bothersome and painful. Shea butter is used in skincare for its moisturising, nourishing and regenerating properties. Discover in this article how its benefits can be harnessed to combat chaps.

Summary
Published January 31, 2024, by Manon, Head of Scientific Communication — 3 min read

What are the causes of skin cracks?

Chapping is characterised by dry skin, varying depths of cracks, and flaking. They can cause discomfort, bleeding, and even pain. They particularly appear on the heel and the forefoot.

The primary cause of fissures is skin dryness. It's important to note that the feet contain very few sebaceous glands, which are responsible for secreting sebum. This sebum protects the skin from external aggressions and dehydration. As a result, the skin on the soles of the feet can easily become dehydrated. There are various factors that promote skin dryness on the feet:

  • Wearing unsuitable footwear: shoes that provide little support to the heels such as open sandals or stiletto heels.

  • The intense practice of an impact sport such as running.

  • Pressure: standing for too long.

  • Skin ageing: the skin thickens, loses its elasticity and becomes scaly with age. This promotes the appearance of cracks.

  • Diseases: Certain conditions can promote the development of foot fissures, such as fungal infections, eczema, psoriasis, diabetes, or a thyroid disease.

Shea butter to combat skin fissures.

Hydration is the solution to combat cracks. The application of shea butter with its moisturising and nourishing properties is one of the recommended ingredients for taking care of feet affected by dehydration. Rich in fatty acids, shea butter helps to strengthen the skin barrier and thus maintain the hydration of the upper layer of the epidermis.

A study conducted by a Swedish company in 2009 highlighted the nourishing power of shea butter. Moisture levels in the skin were measured using a corneometer. The application of shea butter resulted in a steady increase in skin water content over a four-hour period. Thus, the use of shea butter on the skin presents an alternative against transepidermal water loss.

Furthermore, its regenerative properties promote the disappearance of cracks. The triterpenes and vitamin E found in shea butter contribute to cell renewal. They deactivate metalloproteinases and promote collagen production. Present in the form of fibres, it ensures tissue regeneration, provides them with great elasticity, and acts as a binder between skin cells, which helps to maintain its structure.

How to use shea butter?

Shea butter can be used in its pure form. It then appears as a solid, creamy substance with a nutty aroma. To reap the benefits of shea butter, massage a small amount of it between your hands and apply it to your skin twice a day, morning and evening. Also, avoid factors that promote the appearance of cracks, such as wearing open sandals and high heels.

Sources

ALANDER J. Shea butter with improved moisturisation properties (2009).

PEKER K. & al. Medicinal and nutritional benefits from the shea tree. Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare (2017).

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