Having cracked heels, also called heel fissures, is a very common problem. It happens when the skin on the bottom of the feet becomes too dry and then splits open. Having cracked heels may simply be a cosmetic problem to some. However to others, having cracked heels may make it painful and difficult to walk. The skin on the bottom of the feet is sensitive, and if the cracks on the heel are deep enough, it may even bleed! These cracks can also become infected with bacteria and viruses, leading to illness and further skin complications like cellulitis.
Spotting cracked heels is easy. The first sigh of cracked heels is the hardening and thickening of the skin around the rim of the heel. This skin my also become discoloured, turning yellowish or dark brownish. Aside from these, one may experience itching, peeling, and inflammation of the affected area.
The main reason behind cracked heels is having dry skin, a normal skin condition called xerosis. However, other factors may contribute to drying feet. These factors include experiencing cold, dry weather, dehydration, and medical conditions like diabetes, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and hypothyroidism. People who take long, hot showers or baths, and people who use harsh soaps on their feet are more prone to cracked heels. Overweight people, and people who put too much pressure on their feet by prolonged standing, are also at greater risk.
Because cracked heels are caused by dry skin, one can use oil based moisturizing creams and foot lotions to keep the skin hydrated. There are heel balms that are specially made for the sensitive skin of the bottom of the feet. Heel pads and heel cups can support the heel by redistributing its weight. One can also use tissue glue to keep the cracked skin together.
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