What are Cracked Heels?
Cracked heels, also called as heel fissures are among the common foot problems that many people experience. Majority of people affected by cracked heels consider this as a nuisance and unaesthetic in appearance. In severe cases of heel fissures, one may find walking, standing and even slight pressure on the heels painful. Moreover, similar to smelly feet, cracked heels prove to an unhygienic issue, resulting in infections that end in amputation.
However, the common cause for cracked heels is dry skin (xerosis). The condition may become complicated, if skin on the heel becomes very thick and yellow or brown colored; this thick skin is called as callus, which is mainly due to mechanical factors increasing pressure in the heel area while weight bearing. Prolonged pressure can even cause bleeding as well.
Cracked Heels Risk factors
- Living in a dry climate
- Inactive sweat glands
- Consistently walking barefoot or wearing back open shoes
Cracked Heels Causes
- Prolonged standing in work or at home: Having hard floor may also contribute to the problem
- Being overweight: There is a normal fat pat under the heel and once overweight, there is an increase of pressure in that area. This causes the heels to expand. If it lacks flexibility, there is a high pressure on the area.
- Back open shoes: This allows the normal fat pad to expand sideways due to improper support.
- Improper fitting shoes
- Having a dry or thick dry skin around the heel with too much activity involving the feet.
- Skin problems like eczema, psoriasis (Palmoplantar), palmoplantar keratoderma.
- Diabetes, thyroid diseases
- Inactive sweat glands
- Age: The older the person, the skin elasticity is lost making the feet prone to cracked heels.
- Vitamins, minerals and zinc deficiency, which promotes a healthy skin.
- No proper hygiene.
- Seasonal variations, especially winter
- Mal-alignment of the metatarsals.
- High arched or flat feet
- Athlete’s foot
Cracked Heels Symptoms
- Very thick callus on the outer edge of the heel
- Discoloration on the heel, usually a yellow or dark brown colored skin
- Painful walking with a shoe having thin soles, or open back.
- Painful walking
- Itchy feet
- Peeling or cracked skin
- Flaky patches or red patches
- Bleeding (severe cases)
Cracked Heels Complications
- Diabetic ulcer
Cracked Heels Pictures
Picture 1 : Cracked Heels
Image source : dryfootcream.com
Picture 2 : Heel Fissures in both the legs
Picture 3 : Heel fissures before and after debridement
Image source : lookbeauty.com
Remedies for Dry Cracked Heals
If the cracked heel is not really that severe, a person can do some home remedies that can help soften and add moisture to the feet. Especially in during winter season or even in extreme heat, cracked heels can happen. Here are a few remedies to battle off the problem.
- Keep the feet clean all the time.
- Exercise the feet regularly. Walking is a good thing to keep your feet circulated. Studies have shown that walking barefoot is actually a good thing because it helps tone the feet muscles. This should be done moderately.
- Use an alternate hot and cold water when washing the feet to have a soothing feeling
- Moisturize and exfoliate the feet as much as possible.
- Avoid wearing open backed shoes. Instead wear shoes that has a shock absorbent sole.
What Creams and Moisturizing Products to Apply ?
When searching the internet for moisturizing creams and exfoliating procedure, there are a variety of products caring to treat the cracked heel.
- Shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oil after an evening bath. It is believed that applying a huge amount on cracked heels and then wearing a pair of socks and leaving it overnight can improve the moisture of the cracked area.
- Applying the flesh of a ripened banana on the cracked heel, and leave it for 10 minutes. Rinse afterwards
- Follow daily routine of cleaning and moisturizing the heels. While using pumice stone for rubbing the soles of the feet, add a teaspoon of vaseline or lemon juice, and apply it on the cracked area until the feel absorbs the mixture. This can be done until visible changes occur.
- Application of a mixture of glycerin and rosewater to cure the cracked heels.
- Mustard oil mixed with melted paraffin wax, and apply it on the dry area or cracked heel in the evening, and rinse it the next morning. Do this for about 2 weeks, or until there are changes on the affected area.
- Use virgin coconut oi,l since it is best known for skin care. It also contains anti-oxidants that can enter into the tissues and prevent formation of free radicals that losses the skin’s elasticity.
A podiatrist is a doctor who is specializing on foot care. They are usually helpful to those patients who have cracked heels problem and even diabetic foot.
- They usually investigate on the problem, take the patient’s history and think of a proper treatment program.
- They do debridement on the cracked heels to avoid complications.
- They make maintenance programs, especially if the cracked heel is painful.
- They prescribe medicines as well as the proper moisturizer or ointment to be used on the affected heel/s.
- They have the authority to use the tissue glue, especially on the edges of the skin to hold it together.
- They give advices on what footwear should be worn as well as tips on self care, when the cracks are painful.
Diabetes and Cracked Heels (Heel Fissures)
Diabetes involves many complications, and one of which is diabetic neuropathy. Because of the high blood glucose, the normal circulation in the blood is impeded, making the blood viscous and the healing process slower, or never at all. When cracked heels or other wounds in the lower extremities occur, it is difficult to manage. Simple foot crack or wound can worsen into diabetic ulcer and infection. If it is not managed properly, it can lead to serious problems, and amputation may be the best thing to be done at that stage. So when a diabetic person experience cracked heels and other foot pains, it is best to consult the podiatrists or internist.
by on in Upper and Lower Limb