Cracked skin around the heels is unattractive and can be quite unpleasant. These are recognised medically as heel fissures. These fissures grow at the edge of the heel as a result of strain on dry, thick skin. If you wear open-heeled shoes, these can be quite unsightly.
The mechanism by which this occurs is that there is a typical fat pad under the heel that expands laterally when the heel is loaded. This is typical. Typically, the skin is soft and elastic, allowing it to absorb this expansion. However, skin that is dry is prone to cracking. If the skin is thicker and drier due to a callus, then these fissures might be rather large.
These large fissures in the callused skin might irritate the healthy skin beneath them. In addition to causing pain, the fracture or splinter in the healthy skin beneath the hard skin might serve as an entry point for an infection. This can be dangerous if you have a predisposing medical condition, such as diabetes, that makes you susceptible to infection.
Having a hereditary predisposition for the skin to thicken in reaction to pressure, being overweight, wearing shoes without a closed heel, an inability to reach the feet for self-care, thickening skin around the heel, and dry skin are the primary risk factors for cracked heels. All of these risk factors combine to make individuals susceptible to the condition. There is no single reason, but rather a combination of many elements.
The initial step in treating cracked heels is to treat any underlying infection that may be present. This will involve cleaning the diseased area and applying a wound dressing. If the infection is severe or exhibiting signs of infection, antibiotics must be used.
The removal of the thicker, prone-to-cracking calloused skin is arguably the most crucial aspect of the procedure. This can be debrided by a podiatrist, which is the preferred method, at least initially.
This might be accomplished by yourself with some effort with a foot file. After the removal of the calloused skin, it may be necessary to tape the borders of any fissures to give them time to heal. It is essential to wear closed-toe shoes to retain the fat pad under the heel and prevent it from extending laterally and putting pressure on the skin.
After this, it is essential to apply an emollient lotion to combat the dry, easily-cracked skin. This must be performed daily. The creams containing urea are excellent for this purpose. As the thick skin begins to reappear, it is essential to use a foot file or pumice stone to keep it at bay. This could also be accomplished by routinely visiting a podiatrist.