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What are Heel Cracks?

Heel cracks or fissures are the splitting or cracking of the skin on the outer edge of the heel due to excessive drying and pressure that causes the skin to expand sideways. In some people, thick, hard layers of the skin (calluses) can cause flakes and deep cracks. Untreated heel fissures may cause bleeding, infection and foot ulcers.

Symptoms

You may experience dry, discolored skin around the rim of your heel. Small cracks may be visible, which becomes deeper. Standing and walking becomes painful.

Risk Factors 

Heel cracks can occur to anyone due to insufficient moisturization of the feet. Other causes include:

  • Too cold or dry weather
  • Dehydration
  • Excess scrubbing 
  • Using harsh soaps
  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Walking barefoot
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Treatment

Simple home remedies may help treat cracked heels. These include:

  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids.
  • Use mild soap and lukewarm water while bathing. Try an oatmeal bath.
  • Rub moisturizing cream or oil (coconut or sesame oil) to your feet immediately after a bath.
  • Apply petroleum jelly at night before bed and wear socks to retain moisture. 
  • Wear proper footwear all the time.

Consult a podiatrist if you have severely cracked heels that do not respond to the home-based treatment options. Your treatment can involve:

  • Medications to manage pain and infection.
  • Prescribed ointments and special heel balms that cause softening and healing of tissue.
  • Surgical debridement to remove dead and infected tissue, and treatment with antibiotics.
  • Using special skin glue or tape to pull the edges of the cracked skin together.
  • Supporting heels with insoles or a heel pad. 
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Athe American College of Surgeons
  • American Shoulder And Elbow Surgeons