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How To Treat Cracked Heels And Their True Causes

How To Treat Cracked Heels And Their True Causes

Know All About Cracked Heels - Medanta


A cracked heel is a frequent foot condition. This condition arises when the dry, thick skin on the bottom of your heels breaks and splits. In most situations, tiny cracks are only a nuisance and may be unsightly, but if left untreated and the heel fissures deepen, it may be uncomfortable to walk and get infected.


When the delicate skin on the sole of your feet and heels gets too dry, it may split apart, creating painful cracks on your heels known as fissures. These fissures may not only make walking unpleasant, but they may also lead to dangerous infections.


What causes a cracked heel, and why?


A cracked heel may happen to anybody. Predisposition might be caused by:


  • Dehydrated skin
  • Dermatitis atopy
  • Plantar dermatosis in children
  • Psoriasis, particularly palmoplantar psoriasis
  • Keratoderma palmoplantar
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypothyroidism


Cracking begins with dry, thickened skin (corn and callus) around the rim of the heel. Increased pressure on the fat pad beneath the heel leads it to expand laterally, resulting in callus splitting or cracking. Some of the variables that lead to cracking or splitting are as follows:


  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Long periods of standing, particularly on hard surfaces
  • Open-back shoes and sandals, since they do not offer enough support to keep the fat pad beneath the foot in place.


What are the symptoms of a cracked heel?


The formation of dry feet, and hard, thicker skin around the rim of the heel is the first indication of a cracked heel. A callus is a discoloured spot of skin that might be yellow or dark brown. Minor fractures appear over the callus at first. If left untreated, these fissures will get deeper as more pressure is applied to the heel, making walking and standing unpleasant. The cracks may get so deep that they bleed.


Cracked heels may develop infected and cause cellulitis in extreme situations. This requires elevation of the affected region, debridement of dead tissue, and antibiotics. Cracked heels are especially concerning for diabetic patients, who may have neuropathic damage (loss of sensation, notably in the feet) due to the fissures, which may develop into diabetic foot ulcers.



Complications Caused by Cracked Feet


Cracked heels must be treated or they might create issues. If you ignore the condition, it may have serious implications. The symptoms grow unbearable, cracks become painful, and there are additional issues such as:


  • Increasing walking difficulties;
  • Inability to spend long on one's feet, which impairs functioning abilities and restricts mobility;
  • cracked foot infections and illnesses;
  • feeling of burning, itching, and bleeding;


Consequently, a person with cracked heels will have to endure sophisticated treatments rather than getting rid of the condition sooner.



Cracked Heels: What Causes Them?


Occasionally, cracked heel causes are a lack of moisture. These fissures may become inflamed and even bleed. Dry feet may develop for a variety of causes, including:


  • Freezing winter weather
  • Dehydration, or a lack of water intake
  • Failure to moisturize your feet
  • Taking very hot baths or showers
  • Soaking in a hot bath for an extended period or regularly
  • Applying harsh, drying soap to your feet
  • Scrubbing dry feet
  • Being diabetic



The skin may begin to bleed when it cracks. Deep heel cracks may enable germs and viruses into the body, resulting in infection and disease.


Cracked Heels: Risk factors


Diabetes and obesity are the two leading risk factors for cracked heels, according to Mauser. People with diabetes are more prone to having cracked heels because uncontrolled blood sugars may cause nerve damage in the foot, resulting in dry skin. Diabetes patients are more prone than non-diabetics to getting an infection from broken heels. If you have diabetes, you should inspect your feet for cracks or conditions.


Obesity increases the likelihood of cracked heels because there is more weight on the heel pad, causing it to spread out farther. Dry skin cannot withstand the additional strain and cracks.


However, during the winter, anybody might have dry, cracked heels. Taking long, hot baths and showers regularly might further aggravate this issue. Furthermore, those who do not frequently moisturize their feet with an oil-based lotion or moisturizer are more prone to develop heel fissures. Inadequate hydration and nutrition are additional risk factors for cracked heels.


Cracked Heels Diagnosis


See a podiatrist if your heels are cracked and sore, and the situation does not improve with over-the-counter foot lotion. If your heel fissures are "serious enough," Mauser adds, "we'll provide ideas and guide you through it." A podiatrist can cure any connected illness as well as provide treatments to assist your skin in healing correctly.


To avoid painful, cracked heels, reduce risk factors by drinking lots of water and avoiding hot showers. You'll be kicking up your well-moisturized heels in no time with a nice lotion and some foot massage.




What is the best way to cure a cracked heel?


The best way to cure cracked heels is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Simply massaging the heels with a moisturizing lotion on a regular basis can maintain the skin supple and moisturized. Many cracked heel treatment medicines are available nowadays. There are heel balms with descaling (keratolytic) or water-retaining (humectant) ingredients, such as:


  • Urea
  • Sodium salicylate
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)
  • Isomerate of saccharide



To relieve discomfort, protect against infection, and promote faster healing, the cracks may be treated with a liquid, gel, or spray bandage.


A visit to a podiatrist may be necessary if the heels are badly damaged or if no progress is apparent after a week of self-treatment. The following treatments are possible.


  • Debridement is the removal of tough, thick skin (this should not be attempted at home using scissors or razor blade as there is a risk of removing too much skin and infection occurring)
  • Strapping - a bandage or dressing wrapped around the heel to prevent skin mobility.
  • Prescription for stronger softening or debriding medicines, which often comprise urea or salicylic acid.
  • Insoles, heel pads, or heel cups to distribute weight and give superior support (prevent the fat pad from expanding sideways)
  • Tissue glue to keep the cracked skin's borders together so it can heal.


Feet should be examined regularly, and if cracking occurs, a moisturizing regimen 2-3 times per day may be all that is required to repair the heel. Before applying moisturizer, gently scrape a pumice stone across the callus to remove part of the thick hard skin.



Dr. Manan Mehta
Meet The Doctor
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