Heel fissures are typically caused by extremely dry skin. These deep, painful cracks usually form on the bottom of the heel, sometimes making it painful to walk. They are often secondary to callus formation, which occurs with repetitive friction such as from walking barefoot or from a strap on the back of your shoe rubbing you the wrong way. Open-backed shoes can also be a contributing factor. If left untreated, fissures can bleed and become so deep that they lead to serious medical problems, especially for those with diabetes. When the skin is cracked, it can open the door to bacterial infections resulting in major complications.
How Does it Happen?
This condition first begins as dry, scaly skin on the bottom of the feet, especially at the heels. This is a common problem, which can easily be treated with a moisturizer. However, sometimes the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) begins to crack and the moisture barrier is broken, which leads to deep fissures being formed. This can occur in people who have dry skin or live in a dry climate, or it can occur in association with a medical condition such as diabetes, venous stasis, cancer, or multiple other medical issues.
What Should I Do?
Prevention is the best treatment of heel fissures! However, many times patients don’t realize the problem until it’s too late. Not to worry, though. The expert staff at Podiatry Care Specialists, PC can help you treat your feet back to health. You may need to apply anti-bacterial medication to keep infections at bay. A mild exfoliator and pumice stone can help remove the unwanted callus that surrounds fissured skin and a moisturizer should be applied twice daily.
Until you’ve nursed your skin back to health, try covering your heels in petroleum jelly at night, then slipping on some cotton socks to lock moisture in while you sleep. It can also help to invest in a humidifier, and lessen the time you take showering and bathing.
Once the fissures have healed, it is still important to keep up your moisturizing routine by applying cream or lotion to the bottom of your feet and heels once daily. This will go a long way toward preventing fissures from recurring.
Catch the Cracks Early
It is important to check your feet daily, especially if you have diabetes, dry skin, or heel fissures. Look for signs of dryness, calluses on the bottom of the heel, and cracks starting to form. If you discover any of these symptoms, it is very important to keep the cracked area of your heels clean, because the outer layer of skin (epidermis) is damaged, and bacteria can enter and cause an infection. If this happens, you’ll need antibiotics to treat the area. If left untreated, an ulcer or cellulitis may result. For these reasons, it is vital that you contact Podiatry Care Specialists, PC as soon as you spot any signs of trouble.
You can reach us by calling any of our convenient locations throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, or by requesting an appointment online. Don’t let cracked heels get any worse. Avoid painful fissures by contacting us today!
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