Possibly NSFL: Urine, Cracked Heels
December 5, 2016 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Substitutions for Urea Cream 40%?

I have been using prescription Ascend Urea Cream 40% for cracked skin on my heels in the winter. It works well. A 7oz bottle costs $185. Until recently, I paid $10 out of pocket. Something changed with my insurance and it would now cost me $105. Not gonna happen. I know that lotion alone (Cetaphil) doesn't work.

Urea is a major organic component found in human urine (which the internets verified) and so ... wait for it ... I tried mixing some fresh urine with Cetaphil. It seems to work.

Questions ...

1. Really? $26/oz for mixing pee and lotion?

2. Is there anything I could do to my current mixture to improve efficacy?

3. There are other Urea Cream 40 lotions available that are not prescription. Would these be effective? Why is one prescription and one not?

4. Just came across this. Not FDA approved?
posted by allelopath to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you considered making your own cream? You can buy the ingredients here and check around for recipes. Here is the product itself.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:09 PM on December 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, I've found that being diligent with pumice and a callus scraper was effective, and using superglue on any cracks.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:16 PM on December 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't know specifically about urea cream or your condition, but through skincare groups I've seen people rave about this product called Baby Foot. It's some kind of skin peel that people say works well on their callouses and cracked heels. Maybe worth a try? Hope you find an inexpensive solution, the change in your insurance sounds like a bummer.
posted by oh.ghoulin at 6:27 PM on December 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Urea is a softening agent (they use it in leather tanning and in skincare.) So yeah, it can work. And it's generally safe to pee on yourself or someone else. However, pee is only like 2% urea, as best I recall. So it's going to be less effective than a 40% cream, plus you have to deal with potential bacteria growth in the Cetaphil from urine impurities (it potentially gains microbes from contact with your body on the way out.)

My routine for cracked heels and calloses is to diligently file down my hooves and then moisturize with a heavy hemp oil or shea butter lotion, and remembering to tape my feet before I wear shoes that cause calluses, and to bandage open cracks as soon as they appear. No urea required, but YMMV.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:43 PM on December 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've used Baby Foot and it definitely works. It's basically a glycolic peel for your feet. Be advised that your feet will be gross and very peely for a couple weeks after you do the peel, but after that, you will have nice smooth feet.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:01 PM on December 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't really want to comment about whether or not you should use pee, but if you're concerned about it, it's pretty easy to buy urea online (for example, on Amazon), and as binkrnk says, you can make your cream a lot more concentrated by using pure urea than you can with urine.

This is not medical advice - I have no idea if this is a good or safe idea, just that it's possible.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:18 PM on December 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

O'Keefe's cream is really highly rated for dry cracked skin.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:28 PM on December 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Flexitol has 25% urea, and is available on Amazon or at your local pharmacy over the counter for about $8-10/tube. It's probably not *quite* as effective as prescription 40%, but it's worked as promised on my super cracked heels-- visible results in 3-7 days, significant improvement or completely healed in 2-3weeks of consistent use.
posted by instamatic at 8:13 PM on December 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I should have said that Flexitol seems kind of like the Baby Feet peel pictures I've seen: it is effective enough that swaths of damaged/cracked skin will start peeling off a few days into your use. The thing I like about Flexitol is that you can do just your heels if that's the only rough spot on your feet, instead of your entire foot, which I think is how baby feet works.
posted by instamatic at 8:16 PM on December 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I used to suffer from horribly cracked heels. I've used Baby Feet and I didn't think it provided any lasting benefit (it is entertaining, though, if you dig that kind of thing.) What has worked for me is diligent - like, weekly at least, sometimes more - callous grating with a foot file (not useless pumice stones.) It works so well that I've never actually tried the urea cream that I bought at the same time that I bought the file.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:53 PM on December 5, 2016

I really hope you are making a fresh pee tincture with each application. Otherwise you are rubbing bacteria into cracked skin.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:54 PM on December 5, 2016

I've used Baby Feet and I didn't think it provided any lasting benefit (it is entertaining, though, if you dig that kind of thing.)

Seconding this, unfortunately. It will make the rest of your foot soft for a while, but if your heels need prescription-strength remedies Baby Foot won't help. I'll be watching this thread carefully; I have a gnarly callus on one of my big toes that keeps returning and Baby Foot didn't really do much to at all (but maybe that Flexitol isn't exactly the same.)

Scrape, scrape, scrape. Also, bedtime shower and right after, use a liberal amount of good old-fashioned Palmer's Cocoa Butter lotion and put on cotton socks to sleep. Not a sexy look but you smell like chocolate so +8 points.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:25 PM on December 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Well use over the counter urea cream at a much lower concentration. If your current diy approach with much lower concentration works that could be an option if you want to stop making it the way you were.
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:30 PM on December 5, 2016

Best thing I've ever used is a foot file, Microplane Colossal Pedicure Rasp (Foot File). It's really great. I put some lotion on my fee afterward. The file is much more effective than Urea cream or a regular pumice stone.
posted by DMelanogaster at 10:22 PM on December 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Urea 40, $20. Combine that with these incredibly attractive silicon heel cups to keep it working (not drying out) all night while you sleep and one of these electric foot files with the extra-coarse rollers.

The reason that you can't get Urea 40% off the shelf at Walgreens is probably because they make more money keeping it behind the counter for a vastly higher price than anyone would pay out of pocket. It's something that older diabetic patients are often prescribed, and (at least for now) there's a lot of money to be made out of Medicare. It's fine to get this off of Amazon.
posted by cilantro at 12:07 AM on December 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

While you're figuring out a pee/cream combination or a homemade recipe involving chemically pure urea, look for diabetic foot lotions OTC in the drugstore. They're expensive for OTC lotion but cheap compared to a prescription, and will give you a reasonably hefty dose of urea. Enough to keep you going.
posted by pickingupsticks at 1:23 AM on December 6, 2016

Also, the much-lauded internet cure for hardened foot skin (listerine and vinegar) actually worked amazingly well for me. I also suffer from painful deep cracks in winter. You mix 1/4 cup Listerine, 1/4 cup vinegar, and 1/2 cup warm water. Soak your feet for ten minutes, then go to town with a rasp. It removed so much hardened skin that my weaker urea lotion went much further.
posted by pickingupsticks at 1:28 AM on December 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

I also came in to suggest, as TWinbrook8 did, just buying the active ingredient.

(Is it really from human urine now? Some decades ago, one of my doctor grandparents had me and my mum try out this "miracle hand cream" that was in the testing phase. We rubbed it in and said it felt nice and moisturizing, but what was the big deal? Big guffaw. "The magical ingredient is HORSE PISS!" My mother and I both went running to wash our hands...)

saffireblue.ca will sell you a LITRE of lactic acid, the miracle what-not in Lac-Hydrin, for CAD$15 + shipping. I'd try that. I bought the litre, gave little jars to friends, and they all mixed it in with regular lotion and reported fantastic results for all sorts of skin hassles. In Canada you can buy Lac-Hyrdrin 12% OTC, but I understand it's Rx-only in the States? Good cheap skin care hack to dash a bit in to your preferred cream before application!
posted by kmennie at 6:41 AM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fix your feet is the guideline I used to fixing my feet-- you may find more information there.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:52 AM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've been using this on my heels with good results: Heel Tastic.

I scrub a little with pumice at the end of every shower (not long, since I have zero attention span) and after I dry off I apply the Heel Tastic before I put on my socks. The heels are softening up nicely after a week of doing this.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:37 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for all the responses. I didn't think I would get any. Lots of things to try. I'll start with making my own cream and go from there.
posted by allelopath at 4:44 PM on December 6, 2016

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