Heel Fissures (Cracked Heels)

What are heel fissures?

A heel fissure is simply the term for the cracking of the skin on the heels. It is the result of an untreated callous, or a build up of skin that forms due to irritation or friction. Fissures can be a cosmetic problem or nuisance, but if left untreated, serious medical problems may arise. Heel fissures usually occur on the bottoms or sides of the feet. They can even wrap around the entire heel. The skin becomes hard, flaky, dry and sometimes leads to painful, deep fissures. These cracks are actually cut wounds that reach the lower layers of skin, which in turn causes bleeding. If left untreated, the open wound could become infected. 

What causes heel fissures?

There are many different causes of heel fissures. The most common are:

  • Having naturally dry skin
  • Living in a dry climate
  • Standing for long periods of time at home or work, especially on hard or wooden floors
  • Being overweight – This increases the pressure on the fat pad underneath the heel, which causes it to expand. If the skin isn’t flexible enough, the pressure could cause cracks.
  • Open-backed shoes or sandals – By wearing these, the fat under the heels is more likely to expand sideways causing pressure and the skin to crack.
  • Having a preexisting medical or skin condition such as: athlete’s footpsoriasis, thyroid disease, eczema or diabetes.
  • Aging – As we get older, the skin decreases production of sebum, an oil that’s released by the skin that helps it stretch. Without this beneficial oil, the heels are more likely to crack.

How do I prevent heel fissures?

The good news is that heel fissures can be prevented by daily foot care. Wearing the proper shoes and using deep skin moisturizers on your heels will keep your feet soft and supple. This will prevent the skin from cracking and becoming dry. To really keep the moisture in, wrap your feet in saran wrap after applying moisturizer, and then put your socks on to hold the extra moisture in overnight. 

Are you suffering from heel fissures? Contact the podiatrst of NorthPointe Foot & Ankle in Berkley, MI for relief. If you live in the Berkley, Southfield, Royal Oak, Oak Park or Ferndale areas call us at (248) 545-0100 or schedule an appointment online.