If you have cracked, dry skin on your heels, you may have heel fissures. Heel fissures occur when the skin on the heels of the feet becomes dry and hard due to a lack of moisture.
Some heel fissures are very deep and can even bleed. Treating dry skin on the heels early is key to preventing further complications.
Risk Factors and Symptoms
Heel fissures can happen to anyone. They are caused by pressure on the outer edge of the heel that gets dry and hardened and forms a callus. The callused skin can become extremely dry and crack.
There are some factors that can put a person at a greater risk for developing heel fissures such as:
- Having a condition such as diabetes or a thyroid problem that interferes with the ability of the feet to sweat
- Having peripheral neuropathy or poor circulation
- Being obese
- Standing for long periods of time
- Having psoriasis and eczema
- Walking barefoot or wearing open-back shoes
Heel fissures are often painful and can produce symptoms such as:
- Thickened or discolored skin
- Visible cracks or splits in the skin of the heels
- Bleeding from the heel cracks
- Open wounds
Heel Fissure Complications
When heel fissures cause open wounds or ulcers, complications can occur. Those who are diabetic are at high risk for infection. Infection can spread to other tissue and even the bones. When infection is spreading, amputation may be required.
How to Treat Heel Fissures
If you have heel fissures, contact a podiatrist for an evaluation. A podiatrist will examine your heels and recommend treatment based on your medical history and the severity of the condition. Mild cases of heel fissures can often be treated at home by exfoliating your feet and using a thick moisturizer. In severe cases, a podiatrist may recommend the following:
- Debridement. Using a special tool, a podiatrist can remove dead skin on the heels.
- Medication. Prescription antibacterial or antifungal medication may be used to treat infections that cause heel fissures. These medications can also help soften the heels.
You can prevent heel fissures by doing the following:
- Moisturize your feet daily.
- Always wear socks to protect your feet.
- Avoid walking barefoot.
- Wear shoes that cushion and support the heels of your feet.
Contact a Podiatrist Today
If you are troubled by dry, cracked skin on your heels, contact Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry for help. We can provide a free initial consultation and help create a customized treatment plan to address your specific needs. To schedule an appointment, fill out our contact form online or call our office at 301-515-FEET.