Heel Fissures

What are heel fissures?

Heel fissures are also known as cracked heels. They’re caused when the skin on the bottom of the heel becomes dry, flaky and hard. This causes the skin to separate, or crack. These cracks in the heel can be embarrassing or ugly. In more severe cases, deep fissures may bleed and be very painful. If left untreated, they could lead to an infection.

What causes heels to crack?

Anyone can suffer from heel fissures, and here are many different causes:

  • Living in a dry climate
  • Being obese
  • Walking barefoot often
  • Wearing open-backed shoes or sandals
  • Having inactive sweat glands
  • Having naturally dry skin
  • Preexisting skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis
  • Standing on hard services for long periods of time
  • Diabetes

How are heel fissures prevented and treated?

If you are suffering from cracked heels, or want to prevent them, you have many options. The first thing you can do is drink more water daily. This will help add moisture to your body. Next, try purchasing a humidifier. By running it in your home you will be able to add moisture to your air. Before going to sleep, rub lotion on your feet, and then put socks on to lock the moisture into the skin. Use an intensive moisturizing lotion, shea butter or petroleum jelly. However, do not do this before exercising. The moisturizer will make your feet slippery, and could cause you to injure yourself.  Also, avoid putting lotion between the toes which can encourage fungal infections.

Getting rid of the dry skin or calluses on your heels can also help to prevent heel fissures. Use a pumice stone in the shower. The water will soften your skin so the pumice stone can gently remove the dead skin. Be careful if you already have cracks in your heels, this could irritate them.

What you wear on your feet can help or harm your painful heel problem. Avoid wearing opened backed shoes or sandals. These types of shoes lead to excessive weight being put on the fat pad on your heel. This extra pressure causes the pad to spread out sideways which puts your heels at a higher risk of cracking. Wear shoes that have extra padding and cushion. This will help to absorb the weight and shock on your heels.

Lose weight to prevent cracked heels. Even small amounts of weight gain can add pressure to your heels. Pressure while walking, standing or running greatly increases when you gain weight. Not only will losing weight improve your foot health, it will be great for your entire well-being.

Lastly, see a podiatrist like Drs. Amy Miller-Guhl or David Guhl if you have deep heel fissures. A foot specialist can treat your heel problem and get rid of the dry, hard skin. If the fissures are especially deep, a strap can be used to push the cracks back together to promote healing. A heel cup may also be prescribed to keep the fat pad on the bottom of the foot from expanding.

Are you suffering from heel fissures? Do you live in the Waukasha, New Berlin, Brookfield or Milwaukee areas? Set up an appointment at Waukesha Foot Specialists today by requesting an appointment online or calling (262) 544-0700.

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