What Are Heel Fissures?
By Dr. Jeffrey Frederick
November 02, 2012
Category: Heel Pain

Colder weather this time of year brings along with it specific foot concerns.  Dry, cracked skin on the heels of the feet can develop into painful fissures if not treated properly. These cracks on the heels can arise anywhere in the body, but most commonly occur on the rim of the heel and web spaces. Dry skin, or xerosis, in combination with callused skin around the heels can lead to fissuring. Heel fissures are actually cut wounds that extend through the epidermis and into the dermis.  When the fissures reach the lower layers of skin, bleeding can occur which means so can an infection. Special consideration must be taken with patients who also suffer from Athletes foot (Tinea Pedis), Psoriasis, Thyroid disease, Eczema, and Diabetes. The good news is this painful problem is easily avoidable with proper foot care.

Excessive pressure or weight on the fat pad of the heel causes it to expand sideways, making this area especially susceptible. Excessive exposure of the feet to water can decrease the skin of its natural oils.  Also, as we age, the skin decreases its production of sebum (the beneficial oils normally released by the skin). This, along with the loss of the skin’s ability to stretch, means elderly people are more likely to suffer from dry, cracked heels.

To avoid painful cracks this winter, be sure to apply a lotion to the heels multiple times per day, and always wear socks with supportive shoe gear. If you are up for home remedies and the cracks are not deep or open, try applying this paste daily to your feet: mix in a blender ½ avocado, ½ banana and ½ coconut – these ingredients are rich in several essential oils and fat soluble vitamins to keep your skin soft and moisturized. If you would rather try something more conventional, pick up a jar of a moisturizer cream like Eucerin, shea butter or petroleum jelly instead. If this isn’t enough to heal those cracks, try wrapping the feet in saran wrap after applying the cream, then put your socks on to hold in the extra moisture over night.  Just be sure to do this only before bed, as it will be slippery to walk around! Heel fissures can be a recurrent problem, and often affect both feet, making this painful condition even more important to deal with right away. 

Thank you for visiting our website!  Please continue to learn more about your foot care needs by reading other informative articles and by visiting our helpful links.  NorthPointe Foot & Ankle is located in Berkley, MI and has been serving people around the Southfield, Berkley, Ferndale, and Royal Oak area for over 30 years.  Request an appointment via our website or call our office at (248) 545-0100.