Condition spotlight

Cracked heels

Cracked heels (heel fissures) occur when the outer layer of skin (epidermis) surrounding the heel becomes hard and callused and then splits due to mechanical stress. While in some cases these cracks are painless and merely an annoyance, they can lead to more problems if left untreated. Superficial splits in the skin can turn into fissures, penetrating the deeper layers of the skin (dermis). Once in the dermis, these fissures may bleed and become painful, making it uncomfortable to walk. They can also provide an entry point for pathogens, leading to infection.

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cracked heels
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Frequently asked questions about Cracked heels

How can I prevent getting cracked heels?

Regular maintenance is key to preventing heel cracks from occurring. The skin’s hydration can be managed by regularly applying moisturiser to the heels to maintain it’s elastic texture. Harsh soaps and lotions can damage the skin’s moisture barrier and increase water loss, so it is best to avoid these. Drinking enough water daily can also help with general skin hydration.

Wearing supportive footwear can also assist with reducing areas of pressure around the heel. Shoes that are supportive, well padded and cup the heel will reduce mechanical stress, slowing the formation of callus. Additional support around the heels including insoles or heel cups can improve shock absorption. 

What should I expect if I see a podiatrist for my heels?

Podiatrists are able to safely remove the cracks and reduce callus thickness. The procedure is painless and often leaves the skin around your heels feeling much lighter and flexible. We are also able to assess underlying factors that may be contributing to heel fissures and provide education for ongoing care so you are able to manage this at home.

Why are heel cracks so painful?

Much like when you get a deep cut, the heel fissures can penetrate the deeper layers of the skin, essentially becoming an open wound. Weight bearing activities can cause increased pressure on the fissure, exacerbating the pain. The surrounding area may also become inflamed as the damaged tissue attempts to heal itself, or infected in more serious cases. This is usually accompanied by redness, swelling, heat and increased pain.

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02 4296 8363
info@shellharbourpodiatry.com.au
19/23 Addison St, Shellharbour Jobs and Shellharbour Podiatry

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