Our Magic Valley Foot Doctors Believe Treating Heel Fissures Is About Far More Than Pretty Feet

Cracked heels are sometimes regarded as nothing more than an embarrassing cosmetic issue. However, this is a problem that’s more concerning than what initially meets the eye. When fissures form in the dry, thick skin on the heels of the feet, pain, bleeding, and infection can result. Additionally, for people with diabetes, these fissures are associated with an increased risk for foot ulcers. At Canyon Foot + Ankle, our Twin Falls and Burley, Idaho podiatrists can help you address the problem of cracked heels before they negatively impact your health.

Typical Symptoms and Causes of Cracked Heels

The skin around the heel of the foot can lose its suppleness and elasticity for several reasons. When this occurs, cracks and calluses form. 

Here are the typical signs of a problem: two-feet-with-cracked-heels

  • White, yellow, or brown discolored skin around the rim of the heel
  • Discomfort
  • Pain when standing
  • Itchy, flaky, and dry skin
  • Bleeding within the fissures

These are common causes of heel fissures: 

  • Extended time on your feet, especially on hard surfaces
  • Wearing hard or unsupportive footwear such as:
    • Flip flops
    • Open back sandals
    • High heels
    • No shoes at all
  • Biomechanical issues with your feet that result in extra heel pressure 
  • Certain medical conditions like: 
    • Diabetes
    • Psoriasis
    • Arthritis
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Sjorgen syndrome
    • Athlete’s foot
    • Heel spurs
  • Long, hot showers
  • Obesity

Up to 20 percent of people have heel fissures, and this rate is even higher among seniors, who often experience balance issues as a result. Women develop cracked heels far more often than men, as do people who have circulation problems or B3 and B7 vitamin deficiencies.

Steps for Treating Cracked Heels at Home

If the cracks aren’t especially deep, you may be able to deal with them yourself. However, there are several steps required to manage heel fissures effectively:

  • Moisturize feet 2–3 times daily with petroleum jelly or a thick foot cream that contains ingredients such as:
    • Urea
    • Salicylic acid
    • Alpha-hydroxy acid
    • Saccharide isomerate
    • Lactic acid
  • Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
  • Avoid walking in flip flops, shoes with open heels, and bare feet and instead choose cushioned shoes with closed heels
  • Wear socks or stockings whenever possible, especially after you have applied lotion at night
  • Exfoliate feet regularly, using a pumice stone, loofah, or foot scrub
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as nuts, seeds, and fish
  • Engage in regular exercise to promote better circulation
  • Soak your feet in room temperature soapy water for 20 minutes
  • Take breaks during long periods of standing
  • Wash your feet every day and dry them thoroughly afterward
  • Protect your feet from extreme temperatures.

Overall, if the fissures aren’t too serious, you should notice a difference within two weeks. You can also use liquid, gel, or spray bandages to potentially reduce pain and help with faster healing. 

Why You Should See Our Magic Valley Podiatrists 

The doctors at our Twin Falls and Burley offices want you to have the best foot health possible. We take several steps to address more severe heel fissures before they impact your mobility, such as:

  • Assessing and treating your feet for underlying problems or infections.
  • Removing problematic skin and calluses.
  • Recommending oils and lotions you can use before bed to avoid future issues and, if necessary, prescribing stronger options.
  • Making referrals to other health professionals to assist in treating medical conditions that could be contributing to cracked heels.

Contact our office right away if you’ve been treating your cracked heels for a couple of weeks with no improvement, or if you experience heel fissures with any of the following potential indicators of infection or cellulitis, a potentially life-threatening bacterial skin infection:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Pus
  • Swelling
  • Fever

If you have diabetes or peripheral artery disease, it’s especially important to take these symptoms seriously.