What are Cracked Heels

Cracked heels or fissures are a common painful complaint found in people of all ages.  Fortunately with some self care and routine chiropody treatment it is a perfectly manageable condition. Cracked heels often form when there is an excessive build up of hard skin or callus on the edges of the heels, or sometimes other areas of the foot. The hard skin can become less flexible and tough eventually leading to splits or cracking. As time progresses and if these cracks are not dealt with they can become deep, painful and bleed.
Cracked heels are also associated with very dry skin, when dry or hard skin loses its elasticity it can crack. If these cracks (fissures) are deep painful and chronically problematic they can sometimes provide a portal for infection, where certain bugs (bacteria) can enter the body through the open cracks in the skin.

What causes Cracked Heels

There are numerous reasons why heels can crack, the cause is usually due to a combination of factors. Cracks can appear if callus builds up and can split under pressure. Dry skin which has lost its flexibility can also spilt and crack. The natural ageing process can cause skin to dry out and thin leaving it susceptible to splits and cracks. Callus or hard skin is a perfectly natural physiological process, however if this callus is excessive and prone to cracks it usually indicates that there is excessive force to the area of skin involved. This combination and the forces acting on the foot (heel) as a result of walking and standing cause the skin to crack and split. For these reasons it seems some people are more prone to develop heel fissures than others. They include…

People who have to wear shoes/footwear and have to stand for long periods of time, e.g people who work in retail, similarly work men/women who work out side in work boots.
A persons weight may be a contributing factor to why heel fissures form.
Bony abnormalities in the foot can cause excessive force on the heel.
Inappropriate ill fitting footwear is a major factor for all foot conditions, especially heel fissures.
Some people have extremely dry skin and are very prone to fissures, they may also suffer from certain skin conditions such as Eczema, Psoriasis, Hypothyroidism.
People who run or are keen walkers sometimes suffer from various foot problems, for the simple reason that they spend a lot of time and energy on there feet.
People who like wearing open back footwear or flip flops/sandals can be prone to fissures as the heel isn’t generally supported and dry skin can build up due to friction and excessive forces when walking. However open toe footwear especially in summer has huge advantages and is healthy for your feet, it is recommended that if you are prone to heel fissures as a result from open toe footwear that you have good self care and use daily emollients to hydrate and keep your skin supple and flexible.

Treatments for Cracked Heels

If you suffer from problematic painful or unsightly cracked heels is recommended that you visit the clinic for routine chiropody treatment. If you have very painful bleeding chronic fissures and have poor health it is strongly recommended that you have routine chiropody treatments. At Stockport Chiropody Clinic our chiropodist/podiatrists are more than happy to help and offer treatment and preventative advice.
Routine chiropody treatment and full assessment of the causative factors involved is the key to prevention and pain relief. Cracked heels can be treated by our chiropodist/podiatrists, the main treatment is sharp debridement using a sterile scalpel, to gently reduce the hard skin of the fissure/crack. This will reduce the depth of the fissure and soften the whole area involved. The prognosis of heel fissures depends upon their severity and underlying causes. People who suffer cracked heels often benefit from routine chiropody combined with good self care, meaning daily use of a good emollients , foot creams. A strict regimen of foot creams/ emollients will increase the moisture content within skin keep it supple and flexible meaning it is able to resist pressure better and ultimately reduce the likelihood of splits occurring. Maintaining good supportive accommodating footwear as much as possible is essential in prevention of cracked heels.For those people who love wearing flip flops or open toed footwear but suffer from cracked heels. It means being subjective, there are good trendy shoes that are open toed etc, it means spending more time finding a good pair that don’t cause problems. Sometimes gentle filling with a emery board type file can keep skin soft and reduce callus build up. The chiropodist/podiatrist is likely to recommend an emollient product, these are foot creams that when applied can soften hard skin. Certain products such as emollients have ingredients like urea which help the skin retain moisture.
Below is a list of creams and products which are beneficial in the treatment of cracked heels available within the clinic.
Eureka 10% urea, emollient  (most popular product) £6 per 75ml tube.
Eureka 25% urea, emollient  (slightly stronger)    £6 per 50ml tube.
CCS cream £6 per tube
CCS heel balm £6 per tube
Poron cushioning insoles, prices from £8 over the counter insoles.
For more details on the above see products available in clinic.