Heel Fissuring

Heel fissuring is a term used to describe cracking of the heels. These cracks in the heels can cause significant pain, and in severe cases can go onto infections. These infections are caused by the fact that the cracks or fissures are open wounds. The open wounds can be an entry point for bacteria to get past the skin, your first line of defense. Infections can have varying degrees of severity. In the most severe cases amputations have been required.

Heel fissures are most often caused by the skin becoming too dry, or callous build up. Fissures can occur anywhere on the foot. However they are most commonly on the heels. The large buildup of callus tissue has to bend and stretch during walking. When the buildup becomes too great it is unable to bend or stretch. When this happens it causes the skin to break open.

Dry callused skin can be a problem that people battle with their entire lives. Some people are genetically predisposed to dry skin and have to be diligent about moisturizing and using other preventative measures to keep the callous build up down. The majority of the time however, people can prevent callous build up and fissures just by changing certain lifestyle habits. The feet and heels in particular are most susceptible to drying out because they have the least blood flow and tend to sweat less than other parts of the body.

Fissuring is extremely common in Florida and other warm climate areas. The reason for this is the high number of people who wear sandals or shoes without socks. Having lived in Florida the majority of my life I also wear sandals quite often. They are much cooler and more convenient. The problem with sandals is that it leaves the skin exposed to the air all of the time. The air evaporates moisture on the surface of the skin. This causes the skin to dry and build up callus tissue. In a great number of people with heel fissuring problems, simply wearing shoes and socks will significantly reduce if not resolve their problem completely. The Socks help hold in moisture. Shoes will decrease the motion of the skin on the heels. This will decrease the tension and bending which causes the cracking to happen.

Another preventative measure is to moisturize your feet and heels. Simply using over-the-counter moisturizing agents can cure your problem. Often the best time to moisturize your feet is just after taking a bath or shower. Bathing and showering actually dries the skin out, due to the washing off of the natural oils produced by your body. In severe cases stronger moisturizing agents need to be used. These can often be found in doctors offices or by prescription.

You may have to have periodic visits to the Podiatrist to decrease the buildup that has already occurred. This is done through a variety of in office techniques. It is not advisable for you to use anything sharp to cut your own calluses. On numerous occasions people have caused more damage than good.

If you feel as though your heels are dry, callused, cracking come in to see us as soon as possible for an evaluation. As I said before it may be a very simple fixable problem.