Cracked feet

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By Penelope A. Domogo, MD

“For cracked feet due to medical conditions, then that condition has to be treated. Keeping your feet happy is the same as keeping your whole body happy – so eat well, drink enough water, get enough sleep and be grateful.”

Question: ‘What is “bengas” in English?’
Answer: “Cracked feet”
This used to be a joke many years ago. And we had a good laugh at the answer as we thought it was just made up by our Igorot friends but then when I googled, there really is this term “cracked feet”! We thought that “bengas” was only found in us, Igorots, who, in the past didn’t wear shoes or slippers. So I am surprised that even with overflowing second-hand shoes and slippers nowadays, there is still “bengas” in the world. Apparently, it’s not only walking barefoot that causes cracked feet or cracked heels. “Cracked heels” is the more appropriate term as it is the heels that actually crack.
“Bengas” or cracked heels start when the skin on the bottom of your heel becomes hard and dry (callus). Increased pressure on the fat cushion beneath the heel causes the skin to expand sideways and because the skin is hard and dry, it will crack. This cracked heel is usually just unsightly, not a disease, but it could get painful.
Aside from walking barefoot, some risk factors for cracked feet are:
1. Dry skin- this can be caused by long, hot showers
2. Prolonged standing on hard floors
3. Obesity
4. Open backs of shoes or sandals or ill-fitting shoes
5. Hormonal imbalances
6. Some diseases like diabetic neuropathy, psoriasis and eczema
Now that we know how the heels can crack and the risk factors, we know how to treat it and prevent it. In our case in Igorotlandia, I haven’t seen “bengas” since wearing shoes and slippers became popular.
If the cause of the cracked feet is walking barefoot, then just wearing proper slippers or shoes will heal it. If your cracked feet is due to other causes, you will also find a lot of simple home remedies in the internet. The common succulent plant, kataka-taka or cathedral bells, can also be used. Split open the fleshy leaf and apply the sap to the cracked feet. You can also do foot soak – soak the feet in warm water for 20 minutes, then exfoliate by scrubbing your feet with a foot scrubber or use “igod”, then dry and apply petroleum jelly. Put on socks immediately to lock in the moisture. Guava cream is also a good heel balm. There are other heel balms in the drugstores.
For cracked feet due to medical conditions, then that condition has to be treated. Keeping your feet happy is the same as keeping your whole body happy – so eat well, drink enough water, get enough sleep and be grateful.***
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‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52″7


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