If you’ve ever suffered from dry, cracked heels (also referred to as ‘heel fissures’), you’ll have seen how badly the skin can be damaged. Instead of being soft, supple and smooth, cracked heels resemble sandpaper: hard, rough and unpleasant to touch.
Feet are prone to dryness due to their lack of natural oils – a problem that’s often exacerbated by chilly weather. As a result, the skin on your feet needs plenty of attention to ensure that it remains in tip-top condition, particularly in the winter. Unfortunately, foot care can easily slip down people’s lists of priorities, especially when they’re busy.
It’s no surprise, then, that dry, cracked heels are one of the most common problems treated by our chiropodists. Patients often request help when the condition is at an advanced stage, having overlooked it previously. However, cracked heels can have serious complications, so it’s important to seek treatment as soon as you spot any symptoms.
Watch Out for Thick, Discoloured Skin
Cracked heels usually begin with thin lines appearing on your skin, in addition to excessive dryness. Gradually, the skin thickens and discolours, becoming white, yellow or brown, with the edge of the heel being particularly badly affected. You’ll probably feel embarrassed about the appearance of your heels and find yourself avoiding footwear that exposes them.
Without effective treatment, the thin lines easily become cracks, as the pressure exerted on your heels when you stand or move around forces the dry, inflexible skin to split. In severe cases, cracked heels bleed and are agonising to walk on.
When more cracks appear and existing ones deepen, your risk of developing an infection increases, as harmful bacteria have a greater chance of entering your body. In this way, a minor foot complaint can become a serious condition that compromises your health.
Risk Factors for Cracked Heels
Certain factors make people more vulnerable to cracked heels.
- Dry skin conditions (such as eczema and psoriasis)
- Obesity (weight gain increases the pressure exerted on the heels)
- Diabetes (nerve damage, poor circulation and excess blood sugar make skin drier)
- Athlete’s foot (some types of the fungus make heels flaky)
- Insufficient omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish, walnuts, etc.) and zinc (from beef, yogurt, etc.), which play a crucial role in skin health
- Standing or walking on hard surfaces (if you struggle to find a seat on the train when commuting to and from London, for example, your heels suffer)
Moreover, your choice of footwear affects your chances of developing cracked heels, especially in the summer. As the NHS and College of Podiatry emphasise, the condition is ‘often caused by open-backed sandals and flip-flops rubbing around the edge of the heel’.
Cracked Heels Treatment from London Chiropodists
If you’re worried about your heels, moisturise them frequently (taking care to ensure the lotion is fully absorbed by your skin, so that you don’t slip when walking). Remove dead skin with a pumice stone. Eat healthily, and drink plenty of water.
However, there’s only so much you can do at home. To prevent the problem getting out of hand, it’s advisable to consult a foot expert. Our experienced London chiropodists provide specialist treatment for cracked heels. It’s one of the many chiropody services we offer.
We can determine the cause of your cracked heels, gently remove troublesome hard skin to accelerate the healing process, treat painful cracks and offer expert advice about aftercare.
For effective relief from cracked heels at a convenient London chiropody and podiatry clinic, please call Feet By Pody today on 0207 099 6657 or book an appointment online.