The most obvious treatments for cracked heels are the ones that either reduce drying or stress. However that is too simplistic and in some cases not possible.
Again, if you are concerned with anything on your feet then it is always wise to contact a health professional.
As per usual, the best treatment is prophylaxis (pro-phil-axis) - treatment before the problem occurs. Or even tackling the causes for your cracked heels.
These are prevention techniques. They might not work if the cracks are deep. Sometimes the cracks have to be treated then you can try to prevent them from coming back with vengeance.
1. Use moisturising cream. Many patients use some weird concoctions, but anything with “moisturising” in it helps.
2. Before you use your cream on some dry skin, make sure that you buff the area before hand. Find a footfile and then buff the area when your feet are dry, rather than wet because more skin will come off (but not down to being sore). What you tend to find is that many patients will cream the dry skin, all they are doing is moisturising the dry skin rather than their proper skin.
3. Once you do have a moisturising cream, use it. Many people do not, and if they do they apply the cream once or twice a month. When we have a bath/ shower water and soap they are designed to remove oils and dirt so our skin becomes dry. So you need to be applying the moisturiser once a day. If you have regular problems, then apply twice a day. The best time to cream your feet is when you are watching TV- have your feet up drying so you don't walk around the house- or even going to bed and messing up your sheets.
4. If you are prone to dry skin, creaming your feet is going to be a regular thing.
5. If you have been using a cream for years and you don't get any results from it, change it. Use that for a month, then change that. See which cream suits you.
6. The best cream has “urea” in it. Urea adds moisture and also slightly removes dry skin from the area.More potent creams can be got from the Doctor.
1. If you suffer from various medical conditions you might be fighting a losing battle.
However if you don't moisturise then the problems could be much worse.
If you are Diabetic make sure that your blood sugars are consistently
level (between 4-7). Diabetics are more prone to either sweaty feet or drier feet.
2. If you suffer with Psoriasis or some other condition which accelerates skin production, then seeing your Doctor for a specific moisturising cream will help. These creams will be called Keratinolytics. Skin is made of keratin and what it does is gently removes the hard skin through a chemical method.
3. If you are overweight, then the best method is to reduce weight, which is harder said than done. Fad diets rarely work, it is up to you to start. Simple chair exercises are helpful, swimming even keeping a diary on what you eat through the days.
4. Shoewear- change them if they are causing a problem. If we could all wear running shoes then that would be great. Running shoes are designed to be comfy and designed to be walked upon. Sandals are a problem because there aren't that many good sandals which have a cushioning base. Croc type of sandals are ok, but they are still made out of a plastic'y type of material- not really that cushioning.
5. If you are elderly or have "boney feet" then orthotics can help. Simple orthotics (called insoles) that just have layers of cushioning that will “add back” the cushioning layer. Over the counter orthotics are very hit and miss- some patients even use “lambs wool” insoles which does nothing apart from make your feet slightly warmer. Memory orthotics are the right idea- these will slightly reduce under pressure but will go back to their original shape when the pressure has been released.
6. If you are overweight or have a mechanical problem, then functional orthotics can help. Unfortunately largely overweight people can usually find little comfort in some orthotics because they deform, so special orthotics are needed. Orthotics can help only if you need them- which is an odd saying, but a lot of people jump for the orthotics first- and usually they do not need them.
Orthotics are good for people with a mechanical problem which can be identified by a Chiropodist/ Podiatrist.
Ultimately it can become too much. Sometimes all the cream and all the filing in the world will not get rid of the heel crack pictures 2 & 3 that was first identified in our introduction.
Sometimes the only way to remove heel cracks is by professional care. The picture below shows a before and after. The picture comes from an anonymous site:
These were (hopefully) debrided (reduced) with a scalpel blade. You may notice the healthy tissue in the right picture .i.e. it's not yellow. However the work is of poor quality and I am glad that it is here.
You may notice ridging- non-uniform debridement- this can cause areas of high pressure. Also the edges of the heel fissure have not been reduced well and the main thing:
The fissures within the cracked heels (the cracks themselves) themselves have not been reduced. We can still see lines within the hard skin. This allows for irritation, and the problem to reoccur quicker.
Professionals tend to forget that the fissures are hard skin themselves:
The above (anatomically astoundingly close to perfection :) ) picture shows 2 heels.
When the left picture the cracked heel is debrided without reducing the fissure, the fissure is still present and still can cause problems. From the outside the heel looks like it has been reduced.
The right cracked heel picture shows another heel debrided, this time the fissure has been reduced, but now it only shows an outline of where the fissure used to be. This is a far better treatment method for a couple of reasons:
1- Less pain and discomfort. If the cracked heels have not been debrided, initially you will find that the heel will be ok, but as time goes on that fissure will start to irritate and if the crack caused bleeding before, bleeding will commence again- because the problem has not been addressed.
2- Less frequent visits. If the job has been done properly then you, the patient, can go without appointments for longer. One patient had every 4 weeks appointments, they came to see us and we increased their visit time to 8 weeks. If the patient started to do things for themselves then that time period would only go up.
Now once everything has been got down to a “normal level” your health care professional should really be figuring out why you got cracked heels in the first place. But seeing as we now have all this information we should be able to reduce the problem or at least increase the time between visits by utilizing: