Cracked feet or dry feet is a common condition that affects both men and women. If left untreated, cracked feet can not only cause discomfort, but also lead to pain and infection.
The feet go through a lot of wear and tear on a daily basis. All the running around and or standing for hours on the feet, in addition to poor choice of footwear does have an impact on the feet which can lead to cracked heels.
For women, this condition causes even more distress, primarily because it looks ugly when wearing open heeled footwear.
What causes Dry or Cracked heels?
In the absence of oil glands in the feet, the feet need external moisturizing. It is the lack of moisture which essentially leads to the creation of heel fissures which can quickly lead to cracks.
Inactive sweat glands, which can be due to genetic conditions, damage from years on your feet, obesity, or excess hot water when bathing can cause heel skin to dry out. In addition to this, there are a number of other health-related reasons behind a cracked heel. Here are some of the more common health-relation conditions causing cracked heels:
• Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis.
• Heel spurs.
• Athlete’s foot.
• In some people, cracked heels can also happen due to improperly aligned metatarsal bones.
Other common causes for cracked heel include intake of antihistamines and diuretics and the deficiency of certain important nutrients in the body including minerals and vitamins. The sweat glands are also impacted due to the aging process. Any of these reasons can lead to cracked heels.
People more Susceptible to Cracked Heels
Diabetics, in particular, need to watch out for cracked heels. The sudden increase and drop in sugar levels can damage the nerves present in the feet. The danger for diabetics also comes from their poor resistance to infections and slow healing of wounds.
In obese people, it is the heels which bear the brunt of all that extra weight. As the pressure on the heels increase, the heel pads get pushed laterally leading to ruptured skin.
Cracked Heels – The Process
Most heel fissures start small and even go unnoticed for a period of time. However, these small cracks can soon deepen and widen at which point they become noticeable. Soon the skin becomes itchy and peeling and cracks in the skin of the heel follow.
The outer edge of the heel starts to harden. Soon after this, the cracks and fissures become painful and may even begin to bleed. Any kind of physical activity (walking, running) causes pain which can intensify depending on the scale of the fissures and cracks. If the cracks are left untreated even at this point, bacterial infections can easily take root.
Treating Cracked Heels
Over the counter medication for treating cracked heels are available across most drug stores and supermarkets. In addition, home remedies such as using honey or coconut oil to massage the heel also work. However, if your condition is serious, and you are experiencing a lot of pain or if an infection has set in, seeking medical help is better. Especially if the infection is serious and you are diabetic.
Prevention is always better than cure. Taking care of your heels through routine exfoliation and regular use of moisturizers is the best way of preventing cracked heels.
If you have any questions about this, contact us at Foot and Ankle Center. We are here to help you!