Cracked heels or heel fissures as they are also known, are a thickening of the skin on the heel of your foot, mainly caused by excessively dry skin, this may aggravate thick, brittle calluses on your heels. Cracked heels are a common foot problem, and although not usually dangerous they can be extremely painful. Cracks can develop quite quickly. Simply standing or walking can deepen the fissures, causing them to become deeper, increasingly sore, and maybe even infected. Infection can cause serious problems if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes, or a lowered immune response, often due to illness or age.
Common causes of cracked heels are;
- Some skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema
- Thyroid disease
- Prolonged standing
- Being overweight
- Ill-fitting and open back shoes
- Flat feet
- Athlete’s foot
- Heel spurs
- Inactive sweat glands
Symptoms of cracked heels can include;
- Itchy skin
- Skin that is pealed or cracked.
- Hard skin to the outer edge of the heel.
- Flaky or red patches to the heel.
- Dark or yellow skin to the heel.
- Pain while walking.
Helping to prevent or cracked heels;
- Avoid wearing open backed shoes. Moisturise your feet regularly, using a good quality foot moisturiser, such as CCS cream.
- Avoid having bath water too hot, as this can dry out your feet.
Self treatment of cracked heels;
You can use a pumice stone to reduce the thickness of the hard skin. It is also important to moisturise the foot by applying CCS cream or other oil based foot cream twice a day.
Podiatric treatment of cracked heels;
- Investigating the cause.
- Advice regarding footwear and self help.
- Debriding (Removing) the hard skin, to enable healing.
- Prescription for any necessary cream / emollient.
- If very painful, strapping may be used to hold the cracks together whilst they heal.
- A heel cup may be used to help to keep the heel in place. This is useful in the prevention of cracked heels.
- Prescription orthoses to re-balance the feet, help with cracked heels.
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