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Cracked heels

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Cracked heels – the most common feet problem, occurs when you neglect your feet and rip them off moisture. First signs show up as fine “slits” in your skin which gradually transform into fissures. Cracked heels give an unsightly appearance to your feet and it certainly needs to be taken care of.


Symptoms associated with cracked heels

First you would notice unnatural drying of the skin covering your heels. It would gradually thicken and discolour to form flaky callus tissues and then crack. The surrounding skin around your heels might also peel off and itch a lot.

If left untreated the cracks deepens, become extremely dry and start to bleed. It is when you can sense considerable pain and discomfort while walking or wearing shoes.


What causes cracked heels?

Lack of care: Dry skin or xerosis occurs when you do not moisturize your feet regularly. The skin starts cracking on getting exposed to dirt, friction and overuse. Tearing of skin also occurs on wearing open heeled and ill fitting shoes continuously

Skin diseases: Cracked heels are a symptom of the psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and other types of fungal and bacterial skin infections

Medical conditions: People with diabetes, thyroid problems, obesity, and vitamin deficiency are more likely to have cracked heels. Diabetic patients offer encounter the problem of neuropathy which is loss of nerve function. The patient cannot sense anything in their feet and thus, often fail to notice development of cracks, calluses and other skin problems related to feet.

Other reasons: Cracking is more likely to occur during winter months. It also occurs if you expose your heels very frequently to heat treatments and steam. Use of harsh soaps and vigorous scrubbing can also crack your heels.


Diagnosis of cracked heels

You need to visit a dermatologist or a podiatrist for this problem. Your doctor will check your heels to evaluate the severity of cracking. He will analyse the reasons, look for infections and then decide the treatment. You need to tell your doctor if you have a medical history of diabetes, hormonal problems, etc.


Treatment of cracked heels

Your doctor would prescribe you a foot cream which is usually a keratolytic cream contains other agents like urea, salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids, and petroleum jelly, etc. They heal the cracks and aid regeneration of skin.

If the fissures are deep accompanied by infection, bleeding and pus, then your doctor might perform a surgery known as debridement which involves cutting away hard thick skin with surgical instruments followed by dressing and bandaging. You would be explained a daily care regimen and might need to take antibiotics to prevent infections.

Additionally you might also be given custom made insoles for protecting your heels from further cracking.


Home care for cracked heels

  • Apply dollops of moisturizer to your feet, especially those containing petroleum jelly and lanolin. Cosmetic foot creams are also available and you can use them on regular basis to heal the cracks.
  • You must ensure hygiene of your feet; take extra care of your feet while bathing. Use a pumice stone to scrub your feet and use it very gently. You can soak your feet in lukewarm water mixed with rock salt. Rinse it with shower gel and pat dry followed by application of moisturizer or oil.
  • If the skin of your heel is extra dry then cover it. Wear socks while going out and make sure you wear them throughout winters. Avoid wearing open heeled shoes. Invest some money on buying good pair of heel-friendly or orthopaedic shoes.
  • Get pedicure often to pamper your feet. With cleaning, scrubbing, application of foot pack, gels, etc. chances of cracking are reduced.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: August 12, 2014

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