Are you, (or someone you know) dealing with, and suffering fom cracked heels?
If so, the following information and links may interest you!
Cracked Heels, Callus and Heel Fissures
Dry, cracked heels can not only be unsightly, but can often be source of pain and embarrassment. The good news is that baby smooth heels are achievable with a little elbow grease and help from your podiatrist. Most minor cracked heels are able to be treated at home but for the best results our podiatrist's can remove the dead skin from your feet leaving them soft, smooth and ready for sandals.
What are Cracked Heels?
Cracked heels are caused by cracking or splitting of the skin. This splitting may be due to dryness or thickening of the skin (callus) that cracks and breaks under pressure.
When the skin around the heels becomes thickened or dry, it looses it's suppleness and elasticity, and can split under simple pressures such as that from walking. This can lead to unsightly, painful and even bleeding cracked heels. This can further be made worse in people who have a large fatty pad on the sole of their feet, which under pressure requires more elasticity in the skin to expand without cracking. Other causes of increased pressure includes prolonged standing, pregnancy or excess weight.
Causes of Cracked Heels:
- Walking around barefooted or in footwear such as thongs, sling or open backed sandals which drys out the feet
- Long standing at work or home, especially on hard floors
- Increased weight which causes increased pressure on the heels causing callus. With increased weight the heel is also required expand more and hence can often crack more.
- Ill fitting shoes or sandals that don't support the heels from expanding sideways under pressure.
- Unhygienic circumstances or conditions as well as fungal infections/tinea
- Unhealthy, dry scaly skin that can be caused by climate, such as low humidity during dry summers or cold winters
- Deficiency of vitamins, minerals, zinc and malnutrition.
Medical Causes of Cracked Heels
These conditions can lead to drying of the skin:
- Diabetes where autonomic neuropathy leads to less sweating and thus less moisture
- Thyroid problems
- Dermatitis caused by Tinea / Athletes feet
- Venous stasis dermatitis
- Downs syndrome
- Kidney disease or taking diuretics
- Psoriasis & Eczema
Note: in the elderly, callused or cracked heels may be a sign of increased pressure and can be a precursor to a bed sore. These cases should be assessed by a podiatrist before commencing any at home treatments.
The quickest way to baby smooth heels is to visit your podiatrist who can safely pair away the dead skin leaving you with healthy and flauntable feet. They can also provide you with information on what sort of creams are best for your skin type as well as rule out more serious reasons as to why your skin might by dry and cracking.
In addition to cleaning the dead dry skin from your heels for you, your podiatrist may also be able to treat the underlying causes to your cracking as well as giving you the right advice on how to keep your heels in great condition.
Simple treatments you can do at home include:
- Using a heel balm or oil based moisturiser twice daily. Using a heel balm in the morning is very important as it increases the elasticity of the skin on your heels before you get moving for the day and assists in decreasing the occurrence of cracks. If you don't like the feeling of a heel balm on your feet, just try using a small amount around the rims of the heels and on cracked areas only or use a heel balm stick. This will mean less greasiness on your feet and less chance of slipping so you'll barely know its on there! Our favourite heel balm is pedicare which is available in clinic at Podantics as well as specialty shops such as thefootshop.com.au. We like this heel balm as its locally made and less irritating than some of the larger companies. If you don't like getting your hands dirty then try a stick heel balm such as heel magic as its quick and simple to apply.
- A pumice stone or a foot file (like a giant emery board) can be used to reduce the thickness of the hard skin in less severe cases. In more severe cases you may need the help of a podiatrist. Podiatrist's can remove the thick layer of the heel callus fairly simply. This may be done regularly, or if you are willing to put the work in, it can give you a kick start in the right direction. Try using a foot file on both wet and dry feet to see which one works better with your skin type!
- If cracks start to bleed apply an antiseptic to prevent infection and keep clean with a dressing as needed.
- Wear closed in shoes and good socks when you can.
- Drink plenty of water to keep you and your the skin hydrated.
- In some cases wearing heel cups in your shoes may help. Heel cups made of silicon can help to keep your feet moist and stop the heel pad from expanding excessively.
- If very painful and bleeding, your podiatrist can teach you how to strap cracked heels together with a rigid sports tape to 'hold' the cracks together while they heal.
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