Heel Fissures: Magnifying a Dry Skin Problem
When you look at your dry skin under a magnifying glass, it may conjure up pictures of drought-stricken land in the southwest after a hot, dry summer. When your view is enlarged, you can trace the lines and tiny cracks in your skin quite plainly. You won’t need a magnifying glass to see heel fissures, though; they are obvious to the naked eye. If your cracked heels are bad enough, you will probably feel them, as well.
A Dry and Thirsty Landscape
Your feet don’t have oil glands like the rest of your body but they have more sweat glands to keep the skin moisturized. If these are not functioning properly, or can’t keep up because your feet are exposed to the air, you can end up with skin that is too dry. Add that to the normal calluses that form from friction and your feet can build up a thick layer of hard, dead skin.
When the pressure of your weight on the tough heels is too great, it can force the skin to split. Then, you’re looking at heel fissures. If split is deep enough, the tender skin underneath is exposed and can bleed. This is when your cracked heels can become painful, as every step can open the split a little farther, tearing at the tissue underneath.
Focusing in on the Problem
Most cases of dry skin can be cured simply by re-moisturizing. You should do this after a shower or bath, when the skin has absorbed the water and is most supple. Water that is too hot actually dries out your skin, so keep the temperatures comfortable. Try sloughing off the hard surface calluses with a pumice stone, exfoliating scrub, or emery board. Then, use a good lotion or cream and smooth it all over your foot except between your toes. Pay special attention to your heel, ball of your foot, and any callused areas.
At night, you can use a heavier cream or lotion and wear a pair of breathable socks to let the moisturizer do its work overnight. Skip the socks if they make your feet too hot and sweaty while you sleep; you don’t want to risk a fungal infection.
If your heels are cracked or bleeding, it’s time to get some extra help. Our expert podiatrists at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates have decades of experience with foot problems and can prescribe special moisturizers if regular lotions haven’t restored your feet to good condition. We can also advise you on shoes that will relieve the pressure on your feet that leads to calluses and cracks in the heel. It is good to alternate sandals with closed shoes that protect your feet from dry air, so your skin has a chance to recuperate.
Looking Beyond the Obvious
Dry, cracked skin can be the first sign of some other problems, like diabetes or nerve issues, so it is good to get a medical opinion when excessively dry skin forms on your feet or lower legs. The earlier you catch these conditions, the better chance you have of managing them and avoiding serious complications.
Obesity can also aggravate your dry skin problems, since the extra weight puts more pressure on your feet. Discomfort from cracked heels could be the push you need to lose those extra pounds.
Dr. Hal Abrahamson and Dr. Daniel E. Orozco are ready to look closely at your foot problems and help you find a treatment. Heel fissures can be painful, but we have solutions to rejuvenate the health of your skin. For expert care, call Aadvanced Foot Care Associates at one of our three New York offices: Plainview (516) 822-9595, Rego Park (718) 896-4433, and Flushing (718) 969-2266. You can also request an appointment online. Check out our Facebook and Twitter posts and Pinterest boards for helpful foot care hints.