Cracked heels can be an uncomfortable and unsightly problem for many individuals. They can be painful, cause distress, and even lead to serious complications if not treated. While there are several causes of dry and cracked heels, the most common is dry skin or xerosis. However, there could be more underlying health issues that need to be checked if this problem persists.
The skin on our feet is naturally dry, lacking the oil glands that are present elsewhere in the body. This dryness can worsen with age and is often aggravated by wearing open-back shoes, increased weight, or increased friction from the back of shoes. When this happens, the skin around the heel area becomes thickened, dry, and may start to crack. If left untreated, these cracks may become deep and painful making it difficult to walk.
Moreover, dry and cracking skin on the heel can also indicate more significant health problems such as diabetes or loss of nerve function (autonomic neuropathy). Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves, resulting in peripheral neuropathy. When this happens, the affected individuals may not feel pain or be able to sense temperature changes or pressure on their feet. Additionally, those with peripheral neuropathy may be more prone to foot infections due to the impaired immune response.
It is essential to take good care of your feet, especially if you are suffering from cracked heels. The first step to treating this problem is to keep the feet clean and maintain good hygiene. Applying a moisturizing cream to your heels daily can help reduce the cracking and dryness. It is also important to avoid wearing shoes that can cause friction, such as tight-fitting shoes or sandals with straps that rub against the heel.
If you notice an open sore or infection, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. In such cases, it is recommended to see a foot and ankle surgeon like Dr Gilbert Huang DPM, who can help evaluate and treat the problem effectively. Your podiatrist can recommend appropriate creams, prescribe antibiotics or perform surgical interventions, if necessary.
In conclusion, while dry and cracked heels can be a common problem, they should not be ignored. It is important to maintain good foot hygiene, apply regular moisturizers, and wear appropriate shoes. If you experience severe symptoms or notice an open sore, do not hesitate to seek medical attention from a podiatrist. By taking good care of your feet, you can prevent further complications and enjoy healthy and happy feet.