Cracking or splitting in the skin which most often occurs around the heels.
What causes them?
When the skin around the heel becomes dry and loses moisture, it loses its elasticity and suppleness and will begin to split.
This condition is commonly associated with heel callous (build-up of dead skin). The cracks in the heel can become quite painful depending on their severity, and may bleed and become infected.
The level of skin dryness will vary from person to person. Factors contributing to dry skin include:
- Genetic disposition.
- Frequent wearing of thongs, backless shoes and sandals.
- Skin conditions such as Psoriasis and eczema
- Certain medical conditions eg. Autonomic neuropathy in those with diabetes leads to less sweating and a dryness of the skin.
- Lack of adequate hydration.
- Age will thin and dry out the skin.
- Exposure to the environment, wind, sun, heat and cold air-conditioning.
- Use of soap and various chemicals.
- Long hot baths and showers.
- Smoking, caffeine and alcohol intake will increase dryness with a diuretic effect.
- Pregnancy, hormonal changes can affect the skin.
- Prescription medications.
- See your Podiatrist to have the dry and thickened skin removed. (This does not hurt – only dead skin is removed). Regular treatment is recommended to identify and prevent potential problems.
- Your Podiatrist will recommend a moisturizer to be used on a daily basis. E.g. Sorbolene, or a Urea based cream.
- An antiseptic liquid (e.g. Betadine) may be required if the cracks are deep or infected.
- Appropriate footwear should be worn. Avoid the prolonged use of thongs or bare feet, and wear sandals with enclosed heels where possible. Wear stockings or socks when possible.
- Adequate water intake and essential fatty acids within your diet (e.g. Omega 3 fatty acids) may assist in preventing dryness and cracking by helping to keep the skin hydrated.
If you have cracked heels, call Kew Foot Clinic 03 9853 6877 for the appropriate treatment.