Have you ever over-filled a plastic bag? The plastic stretches as much as it can, but put too much pressure in any area, and the film splits. That can actually happen to your skin, too. Your body’s largest organ functions as a first line of defense against infections and helps hold all your body tissues in place. It’s both strong and flexible, allowing you to move around freely. However, it does have a limit for how far it will stretch. When that limit is reached, you end up with nasty fissures.
Deep, Painful Cracks
Heel fissures are splits in the thickened skin around the heel. If the cracks are shallow, they may not cause much pain. Fissures that cut deeply into the tissue, however, can be very uncomfortable and even bleed. As you might expect, cracks in the skin leave you vulnerable to infections, so they do need to be addressed before complications can develop.
Usually fissures are a result of pressure on dry, thickened skin. The outside edge of the heel is prone to developing calluses. Weight and friction on the heel causes the body to build up extra layers of skin for protection. As the thicker skin dries out, however, it becomes less stretchy or flexible. Pressure on the back of the foot compresses the natural fatty cushions there, squishing them outward against the stiffer skin. Since the dried out callus can’t accommodate the strain, the skin splits. Spending a lot of time barefoot or in backless shoes doesn’t help, either. The supportive backs of shoes and cushioned soles help relieve some pressure on the heel and hold the skin in place.
Moisturizer is Your Friend
Keeping your skin supple and soft makes a huge difference in avoiding painfully cracked heels. As long as your skin can stretch to accommodate the pressure, it won’t split. Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day. Then, after you wash and dry your feet, apply lotion or ointment to the skin, rubbing extra into the back of the foot. If your skin is particularly dry, thicker moisturizers like petroleum jelly or baby oils work well. After you’ve applied the lotion, put on warm socks to lock in the moisture and wear them around for a couple of hours, or even overnight.
Since callus build up on your heel contributes to the problem, you should have those ground down with a pumice stone or trimmed by an expert, like Dr. Noah Levine. You should never try to cut off a callus, especially if you’re diabetic—you risk harming healthy skin and opening your body to infections. If you do develop deep, uncomfortable heel fissures that don’t want to heal, you may need to have one of the doctors at Absolute Foot Care Specialists bandage them so the skin has a chance to recover.
If your foot skin is dry and splitting, you don’t have to suffer. You can restore your heels and even avoid those painful cracks. With a little intentional care, your skin can stay flexible and beautiful. Rather than waiting until you develop deep fissures or an infection, contact the experts at Absolute Foot Care Specialists for an appointment or more information and take care of your feet. Visit the online contact page or call (702) 839-2010 to reach any of our Las Vegas locations.