Heel fissures are cracks in the heels of the feet. They happen when the skin on the bottom edges of your heels becomes dry and hard due to a lack of moisture. Heel fissures can become deep, painful, and even bleed.
Heel Fissure Symptoms
Heel fissures can present a variety of symptoms depending on the severity of the condition. Some symptoms of fissures are:
- Thickened skin around the cracks of the heels
- Brown or yellow discoloration of the heels
- Pain when walking or applying pressure to the heels
- Cracking or splitting of the heel skin
- Bleeding from the cracks of the heels
- Open wound or ulcer on the heels
Heel Fissure Risk Factors
Anyone can develop a heel fissure. There are certain risk factors that can lead to heel fissures such as:
- Underactive sweat glands
- Walking barefoot or wearing shoes such as sandals
- Having a disease such as diabetes or thyroid disorder that can cause dry or thickened skin
- Having a compromised immune system
- Living in a dry, hot climate
- Taking hot showers or baths
- Using harsh soap
Heel Fissures and Diabetes
It is common for heel fissures to occur in those with diabetes. Diabetes can damage the nerves in the feet. The damage to the nerves results in the feet not being able to sweat and provide needed moisture to the feet. Those with diabetes often have dry skin on their feet due to this reason.
Heel fissures can lead to deep ulcers and open sores on the heels which are extremely dangerous to diabetics since they can easily become infected. This can cause serious complications and even amputation.
Preventing and Treating Heel Fissures
Prevention is key when it comes to heel fissures. Some prevention tips to consider are:
Keep your feet moisturized by applying a lotion daily. Pay close attention to your heels and apply the moisturizer in the morning and evening. You can wear socks over your feet after putting on a moisturizer while you sleep to keep the lotion on your feet. Try to choose a moisturizer that is thick and contains an ingredient such as urea or salicylic acid.
Wear proper shoes.
Wear shoes that can absorb shock and protect your feet. Shoes such as sandals or ones with an open back can dry out your heels. You should avoid walking barefoot since that can damage and cause dryness to your feet and heels. Wear slippers indoors to protect and cushion your feet.
Use a pumice stone once your heels become thick and dry to exfoliate any dead skin cells. You can also use a foot scrub on your heels to help with removing dead skin and to keep your heels soft.
Use orthotic heel inserts.
An orthotic insert such as a heel cup can be placed inside your shoe to protect your heels and reduce the stress on your feet that can lead to developing heel fissures. Depending on your need, an insert can be purchased over the counter or be custom-made by your podiatrist.
Examine your feet regularly.
Examine your feet regularly and look for signs of heel fissures. Treating any cracks or fissures before they get worse is advised for best results. Seek immediate attention for any wounds that do not heal or any fissures that are deep and bleeding.
If your fissures are severe, your podiatrist can remove the thick skin on your heels using a special tool. In addition, a heel fissure may be taped or bandaged together to prevent further cracking or damage. Every person is different so treatment will depend on the severity of the fissures and any other medical conditions you may have.
Do You Need a Caring and Experienced Podiatrist?
If your heel fissures are deep, bleeding, or infected, contact our office for an evaluation. You can contact us online to schedule your appointment or call one of our convenient El Paso offices directly. To reach our Sierra Tower Building podiatrist office, please call 915.533.5151. You can find driving directions here. To reach our George Dieter Drive podiatry office, please call 915.856.3331. Driving directions are available here.