Dry, cracked heels can not only be unsightly, but can often be source of pain and embarrassment. Most minor cracked heels are able to be treated at home but in some cases you may need to see a podiatrist to get you started. If there is an excessive amount of thickened skin on your heel, that needs to be debrided (shaved off) by using a sterile blade. Ideally, this should be done by a HCPC registered fully qualified and insured podiatrist.
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 loses it’s suppleness and elasticity, and can split under simple pressures such as that from walking.
- Walking around barefoot or in footwear such as flip flops or open backed sandals which dry’s 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.
- Poorly fitting shoes or sandals.
- Poor foot hygiene
- Unhealthy, dry scaly skin that can be caused by climate, such as low humidity during dry summers or cold winters
- Poor nutritional diet.
- Circulation problems
- Can also be caused by other health conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems or psoriasis and eczema.
- Ageing process with less supple skin and reduced circulation
In addition to cleaning the dead dry skin from your heels for you, at David Brown Podiatry we aim 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.
- 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.
- A pumice stone or a foot file can be used to reduce the thickness of the hard skin.
- Wear closed in shoes and good socks when you can.
- Drink plenty of water to keep you and your the skin hydrated.
- Essential fatty acids within your diet (e.g. Omega 3 fatty acids) and a good diet may assist.
- If cracks start to bleed apply an antiseptic to prevent infection and keep clean with a dressing as needed. See your GP or podiatrist if in doubt.