Cracked & Dry Heels

Liz smiling with foot

Cracked heels is a frustrating condition that manifests as thick callus around the heels. Cracked and dry heels can not only be unsightly, but can often be source of embarrassment. When combined with dryness, this can crack into a fissure, often splitting into the skin causing bleeding, and pain. The skin can also its strength and elasticity and therefore can split under pressure.

What causes cracked heels?

Cracked heels exist firstly because there is callus formation on the heels, but fissures do not necessarily occur just because of callus. If the skin is dry, or has a fungal infection, the skin loses its suppleness and may then fissure.

The cause of cracked heels is often blamed on footwear like sandals, as women tend to get it more than men, but there are a number of factors that affect heels:

  • Age
  • Psoriasis or other skin-related conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Excess weight
  • Abnormal walking pattern

Callus formation itself, however, does not justify cracking. There would have to be a loss of suppleness of the skin that would be more common in dry feet. Some people have unusually dry skin that leaves the skin, flaky, peeling and thin. Some parts of the foot may thicken and crack.

Podiatrist treating foot using scalpel

What we do

A podiatrist will assess your feet and establish a diagnosis. The podiatrist will treat the cracks and hard skin with a scalpel and file. For maintenance, after being treated appropriately by your podiatrist the following is recommended:

  • Use a specific heel balm, recommended by your podiatrist, two to three times daily. Be aware of walking on slippery floors to avoid slips and trips
  • A pumice stone can be used to maintain the reduced thickness
  • Wear closed-in shoes and cotton socks where possible
  • Keep hydrated, drink plenty of water
  • If the heel crack has split and is bleeding, use a topical antiseptic twice daily until you can come for assessment and treatment