When the skin on your heels becomes too dry, it can lose its elasticity and crack. These splits in the skin are called heel fissures and they can not only deepen and cause pain, making it difficult to walk and participate in activities you enjoy, but they can also bleed and become infected, accentuating the problem. The key to preventing dry, cracked heels -- besides moisturizer of course! -- is determining your risk factors and addressing the issue at its source.
Causes of Cracked Heels
Of course, the main reason for this condition is insufficient moisture in your skin. However, there’s more to this than merely skipping daily applications of lotions and creams. Taking hot showers or baths, using harsh soaps, and not drinking enough water dehydrates your skin and makes it vulnerable to cracking. A lack of humidity can add to the problem, and Arizona sure has that! Other contributors include aging, vitamin deficiencies, standing for long periods of time, and conditions like diabetes that promote dry skin, and obesity, which places excessive pressure on your heels.
As skin on your heels is affected by these factors, it grows dryer and calluses form. These hard patches of thickened skin are not pliable under the pressure of your heel’s fat pad, which expands with every step you take. The callus cracks under the stress, and a fissure is born.
Stopping the Splits from Getting Worse
Once cracks develop in your heels, they won’t go away on their own. Continuous pressure placed upon them will only make heel fissures worse, deepening the cracks and leaving them open to infection. They can bleed and make even wearing shoes painful. As soon as you notice dry, cracked heels, act fast! Stop any behaviors that could be exasperating the problem. Instead:
- Take lukewarm baths (instead of hot ones).
- Use a mild, moisturizing soap.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Make sure you are eating right and managing any underlying conditions.
- Counteract lack of moisture by applying lotion or cream after bathing, and slathering on petroleum jelly then putting on socks before you go to bed, sealing in moisture overnight.
- Protect heel fissures from infection by covering with bandages.
- Take frequent breaks to get off your feet if you stand for extended periods of time.
- Avoid open-backed shoes and try heel cups for added cushion and support.
Preventing Deep Fissures from Forming
Obviously, preventing dry, cracked heels in the first place is essential for safe and happy feet, not to mention maintaining an active, pain-free life! Continue pro-active, healthy behaviors even after fissures heal. If you notice calluses forming, gently smooth them with a pumice stone and remember – moisturizing is key!
If you are having difficulty, feel free to call us for help. This is especially true if you have diabetes or any other condition that compromises your immune system. In fact, in these cases, it’s imperative to contact us as soon as you spot a possible split occurring to avoid dangerous complications.
You can reach our Chandler or Gilbert office by dialing (480) 963-9000 or by using our convenient online contact form. Don’t let dry, cracked heels hamper your lifestyle or worse, put you in harm’s way. Call us for an appointment today.