Cracked heels and dry, hard skin are common foot problems that your podiatrist can help you with. More common in the warmer months, some people have naturally dry skin and are more likely to develop cracked heels than others.
Heels are like tomatoes
Think of a tomato on the bench… when you push on it from above, it wants to expand out sideways… eventually the skin cracks. This is what happens to the normal fat pad under your heel. As your body weight pushes down, the fat wants to expand sideways and the pressure on the skin to crack is increased.
If the weight is excessive (eg prolonged standing/being overweight) and the skin is not supple (eg callused and/or dry) and nothing is helping hold the the fat pad under the foot (eg open backed shoes) -> cracked heels!
-wearing open backed shoes (ie thongs and sandals)
-skin conditions (eczema/psoriasis)
What can be done?
Regular application of moisturising lotion to feet (sorbolene, QV, NS-8) or a stronger urea based cream for more severe cases (Eulactol, Dermadrate or Neat Feet heel balm). To maintain soft skin, cream must be applied daily or else skin may become dry and hardened again. Footwear is also important, the less time spent in open backed shoes the better for your heels. A pumice stone/foot file can also be used to get rid of some of the hard, dry skin.
The podiatric treatment of cracked heels can involve the following:
-Investigating and addressing the cause of the problem.
-Manually removing the hard thick skin (often the splits will not heal if the skin is not removed). This may need to be done on a regular basis.
-If very painful, strapping may be used to ‘hold’ the cracks together while they heal.
-Advice regarding moisturisers or footwear