When Summer’s here it can be lovely to don sandals and expose our feet. But this is not always the case especially with cracked or dry heels, also known as heel fissures. Fissures are splits in the epidermis resulting from a loss of elasticity in the skin or a change in its texture and strength due to changes in hydration. They are commonly found on the outer edge of the heel which often appear hard, dry and flaky, sometimes causing deep fissures that can be painful and bleed.
The body moisturises the skin naturally by producing natural oils that keeps the skin supple. When the feet become dry, callouses—dry, thickened skin cells—build up which are prone to cracking and splitting. Heel fissures can affect anyone. Young people can develop fissures from consistently walking barefoot and wearing sandals or open-backed shoes while medical conditions, such as psoriasis, diabetes, kidney and thyroid disease can cause a loss of moisture in the feet. Because skin loses its elasticity with age, the chances that callouses will crack and become fissures is more prevalent in the elderly. Excess weight places additional pressure on the feet and can increase tensile stress.
If heel fissures go untreated on weight bearing, they can widen, bleed and become infected. This poses an increased risk for people with diabetes or compromised immune systems. Moisturizing the heels daily with a cream (rather than a lotion or oil) can prevent heel fissures. However, in the early stages using a pumice stone weekly can help to gently remove the hard, dry, flaky skin. Shoes with strong shock absorption can also help to improve the condition. With painful, bleeding fissures the thickened edged will need to be reduced professionally by your Podiatrist and the edges taped together until they heal. Creams containing urea, such as Simply Feet Heel Balm, Flexitol Moisturising Foam (both available from the clinic) or Dr. Ceuticals Cracked Heel Repair, to name but a few, are invaluable in managing heel problems in conjunction with debridement of the heels.
We wish you a comfortable Summer with heels that you can be proud of.