What are Cracked Heels?
Cracked heels are THE most common foot problem. When the sensitive skin on the bottom of the feet and heels becomes too dry, it can split open, leaving painful cracks called fissures on our heels.
Cracked Heels happen when our heel pad needs to expand outward. But when our skin is too tight and dry, the skin will crack, and result in soreness, bleeding, the development of fissures, or all three symptoms.
Aside from making walking painful, fissures increase our risk for infection, since bacteria and viruses can now enter our body through the cracks in our feet as our feet are constantly subjected to dust on the floor and bacteria living in our shoes.
While cracked heels can occur simply as a result of having dry skin, there are also other risk factors that causes cracked heels.
Here are the three most common causes of cracked heels, as well as what you can do to lower our risk for this painful foot condition
Cold climate, or frequently take hot baths or showers, you may develop cracked heels due to having dry skin.
But you may be thinking, we are in Singapore, we don’t have cold climate yet you still have cracked heels.
That is most likely because you are working in an office environment and spending at least 8 hours in an air-conditioned room, 5 days a week, the condition is akin to staying in a cold climate.
You may develop dry skin as a result of the following conditions:
- Living in a cold, harsh climate
- Constantly in an air conditioned room
- Dehydration, not drinking enough water
- Taking hot baths or showers
- Not moisturizing our feet
- Soaking our feet in a hot bath or hot water for too long, too frequently
- Using soap that is too harsh for your skin
- Having diabetes
Why does our weight matter?
Obesity can increase our risk for cracked heels because the excess weight being placed on the heel pad will cause the heel pad to expand.
For example, the average person walks about 160,000 Kilometres during a lifetime.
For a 50 kg lady wearing stilettos strikes the ground with an impact of OVER 400 kg with each step. For a 70 kg jogger, running 5 Kilometres accumulates an impact of 150 TONS on each step.
As mentioned earlier, as our body weight pushes down, the flesh in our heel wants to expand sideways and the pressure on the skin to crack is increased.
If you have not been taking care of your heel, it tends to be dry and inelastic, what happens to your heel with each step is essentially like a tomato on the bench and applying force on it from above.
It will expand out sideways and the skin of the tomato slowly cracks, apply even more force, the flesh of the tomato eventually splits.
Having Type 2 Diabetics
Individuals with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for cracked heels since uncontrollable blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage in the feet -- a condition known as peripheral neuropathy.
Nerve damage in the feet can increase the risk for dry skin since blood flow is affected.
Those with type 2 diabetes are often more than twice as likely to develop infections from cracked heels as those without diabetes.
If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, examine your feet for signs of cracking and ulcers every day and have your toenails safely clipped to lower risk for infection.
Practicing good diabetic foot care can lower your risk for complications down the road.
How can you treat severe Cracked Heels?
If your heels have become cracked and painful, and you are unable to relieve pain or moisturize your feet properly using over-the-counter lotions and foot products, contact your podiatrist immediately.
In the meantime, drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated, and avoid taking hot baths and showers
Lastly, apply foot cream to our feet regularly to help lock in moisture and prevent the skin from becoming too dry.
But do remember, if you have diabetics; make sure the creams you are using are suitable for your conditions and that you do not have any wounds, otherwise the risk of infection is very high.
Do you suffer from dry, cracked heels? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can recommend the best cause of action and help you get you back on your feet.