What Does A Podiatrist Do For Cracked Heels
It’s the height of summer, which means it’s time to toss your boots aside and slip into sandals. There’s nothing like the feeling of the breeze on your feet after months of being locked up in their toe prisons! If you have cracked heels, though, you may be feeling less than enthusiastic about the annual changing of footwear.
Heels can crack due to a number of reasons, and are a common problem that many people deal with. Thankfully, many podiatrists are well-versed in managing cracked heels and helping them to regain and retain their moisture.
This article explains what cracked heels are, what can cause heels to crack, and how podiatrists may be able to help. For personalised advice, contact our team at Midland Podiatry today.
What Are Cracked Heels?
Cracked heels are also known as heel fissures. This common foot problem sees the skin around the heels dry and cracks as the skin loses its suppleness and elasticity.
Cracked heels often cause thick calluses to appear. Calluses, a build-up of dead skin, can be painful and may make you self-conscious about showing your feet. However, it’s important to remember that cracked heels are not uncommon, especially during the warmer summer months.
In many cases cracked heels are painful, and the cracks themselves are vulnerable to infection. While this is a concern for anybody with cracked heels, it is especially concerning for people who are prone to infections such as those with diabetes.
What Are The Signs Of Cracked Heels?
Typically the first sign of cracked heels is the skin around the heel becoming dry, hard, thickened, and possibly turning a yellow or dark brown colour. This is called a callus. There may only be tiny cracks in the beginning, but if left untreated these cracks may become larger and more painful.
As you place pressure on your heel, the skin moves and may further split the cracks and deepen them, often leading to bleeding and increased pain while walking and standing.
You may notice:
- A callus forming around the margins
- Dry skin with small cracks on the heel
- Larger cracks that may be painful
- Bleeding around the heels
- Redness around the heel
- Swelling around the heel
- Signs of infection such as cellulitis or a diabetic ulcer
What Causes Cracked Heels?
While anybody can get a cracked heel, many people may be predisposed to them. Risk factors include:
- Dry skin
- Hormonal changes
- Certain medications
- Excess weight
- Poor foot mechanics
- Atopic dermatitis
- Juvenile plantar dermatosis
- Psoriasis, especially palmoplantar psoriasis
- Palmoplantar keratoderma
- People who stand for prolonged periods, particularly on hard floors
- People who wear open-backed shoes and sandals
- Biomechanical issues
- Taking hot baths or showers
- Using harsh soaps
- Sjögren’s syndrome
- Athlete’s foot
- Flat feet
- Heel spurs
Anybody with untreated cracked heels is susceptible to their heel/s becoming infected and leading to cellulitis. Additionally, people with diabetes may suffer neuropathic damage, which may result in a loss of feeling, particularly in the feet. If left untreated, this may lead to diabetic foot ulcers.
How May A Podiatrist Help With Cracked Heels?
Podiatrists regularly see patients with cracked heels and are experienced in their management. Your podiatrist should advise you of your treatment options and follow up by advising you of the most suitable products to use on your feet in the future, such as heel balms.
The treatment itself often involves callus reduction using a scalpel. Deep cracks or fissures are usually treated with antiseptic followed by applying a dressing or strapping tape in an effort to prevent further damage.
Regular treatment is recommended in order to identify any problems in the future and to address them as quickly as possible. Following your treatment, your podiatrist should provide you with specific advice regarding appropriate footwear and any other products such as stockings or socks.
Looking For Treatment For Cracked Heels In Perth?
Located in Perth’s Eastern suburbs, our team at Midland Podiatry is experienced in dealing with cracked heels and helping to restore them to their best selves. As cracked heels may become more painful over time, it’s essential to seek podiatry help as soon as possible. To get started, book your appointment today.