Cracked heels, also called heel fissures, are a common foot problem. They can cause minor discomfort or be downright painful. Heel cracks are also unsightly and make many people self-conscious when wearing open-backed shoes.
In most cases, these cracks are not serious and can be treated at home with a good quality heel balm to moisturize and soften the skin. Other times, these fissures are caused by a medical condition that requires care from a doctor. It’s important to address your cracked heels as it’s possible for deep cracks to become infected. Learn more about the causes and treatment of cracked heels to fix your fissures and prevent new ones from forming in the future.
Common Causes of Cracked Heels
Anyone can experience cracked heels that develop from the pressure on dry and thickened skin. These are the most common reasons for fissures to appear:
- Dry skin
- Dry and cold weather
- Hot baths and showers
- Wearing footwear with an open back that doesn’t offer support
- Harsh soaps
- Standing for long periods of time
In many cases, you can treat your cracked heels at home and resolve the problem yourself. First, soak your feet in warm water for 20 minutes to soften your skin. Use a pumice stone to exfoliate your heels and remove some of the tough, thick skin. Next, dry your skin and apply a moisturizer. A rich balm that contains Urea works best. Put socks over your treated feet to lock in the moisturizing balm. Do this twice per day for the best results. If you have deep fissures, you can apply a liquid bandage to seal the cracks and prevent infection from setting in.
You should see improvement quickly with this method. If your cracked heels don’t get better within a few days, visit a doctor to get additional help. A podiatrist can prescribe a medication for an infection or a prescription-strength cream. You may need debridement, which is a process where a medical professional removed some of the thickened and hard skin. Your doctor may also recommend shoe inserts or better footwear to offer greater support and distribute your weight more evenly.
In some cases, cracked heels are a sign of a more serious issue. Certain medical conditions put you at greater risk of developing heel fissures:
- Flat feet
- Heel spurs
- Athlete’s foot
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Juvenile plantar dermatosis
It’s important to see your doctor to rule out a medical issue and receive proper treatment if your heel cracks are severe and don’t improve with home treatment.
Preventing Dry and Cracked Heels
Once you have successfully treated your cracked heels, it’s important to prevent new ones from forming. The solution is simple and just requires that you pay more attention to the health of your feet.
Get into the habit of examining your feet for any signs of problems and address these issues immediately. Keep your feet clean by washing and drying them every day. Use warm water, since hot water can make your skin drier. Apply a moisturizer to freshly washed feet and wear socks and supportive shoes. Take care to protect your feet from extreme temperatures that can dry out your skin and lead to cracked heels. Both hot and cold can cause harm and should be avoided.
Keeping your feet healthy and in great shape is easier once you understand the causes behind cracked heels and how to treat them. If you are susceptible to heel fissures, you must take the appropriate measures to prevent them. The entire process only takes a few minutes a day is a wonderful way to pamper yourself and promote healthy self-care practices.