6 Risk Factors for Heel Fissures and What to Do About Them

Heel fissures don’t just make your heels look like the Arizona desert. They can also cause severe pain and discomfort, which could be indicative of underlying health conditions.

Because their heels are mostly out of view, some people may leave their fissures unattended. Yet, even though some cracks may not be as deep, they still require attention. The first step is to know exactly what’s causing those cracks.

In this brief article, we’ll take a look at what heel fissures are, their common risk factors, and how to prevent them from getting worse.

What are Heel Fissures?

Also known as cracked heels, heel fissures happen when the skin on your heel becomes hard, dry, and crusty. You may also notice that the affected skin looks brownish or yellow, which means a callus has formed.

While calluses are supposed to protect the heel from further damage, even this thick protective layer can crack when receiving too much pressure.

Why Should I Be Worried About Cracked Heels?

Once developed, heel fissures don’t go away on their own. That’s why treatment tips usually involve ways of making them better rather than curing them.

When they’re deeper, fissures can lead to bleeding, infection, and make wearing shoes painful. The more you walk and put pressure on the cracked heel, the worse it will get. And the deeper the fissures get, the worse the condition is likely to be.

Woman applying lotion to heel fissures

What are 6 Risk Factors That Can Help Develop Heel Fissures?

  1. Standing or walking for too long: When your skin is already hard and dry, standing for long periods can cause fissures to form.
  2. Excessive weight: Conditions like obesity can worsen cracked heels due to the heavy weight that’s constantly put on them. 
  3. Hot showers and harsh soaps: Hot showers deplete your skin of moisture, which can result in itching, peeling, and redness. When combined with drying harsh soaps, they can complicate existing fissures.
  4. Hot climate: If the weather outside feels like a desert, your heels might as well look like one. That’s because summer is synonymous with sandals and slippers, which exposes our heels and makes them more vulnerable.
  5. Age: As we get older, our skin naturally gets thinner and drier. Those are prime contributors to cracked heels. 
  6. Diabetes: Diabetic wounds take longer to heal than normal wounds. When left untreated, deep heel fissures can lead to open wounds that may become infected. 

What Should I Do to Stop Heel Fissures From Getting Worse? 

  • Take lukewarm showers instead of hot ones. Lukewarm showers will prevent your skin from becoming drier and more irritated than it already is. 
  • Use mild moisturizing soaps. This type of soap won’t rob your skin of its natural moisture. It will also offer a protective barrier. 
  • Drink a lot of water. Drinking at least 2 liters of water a day will help your skin stay moisturized from the inside out. 
  • Eat right, and manage underlying conditions such as diabetes. Eating a balanced diet will help you manage conditions like diabetes, as well as the symptoms associated with it. 
  • Apply lotion or cream after bathing. Once your feet are clean and dry, apply a thick layer of lotion to the affected area. This will lock in moisture throughout the day or night. 
  • Place bandages over the heel fissures. Liquid bandages are a great option to prevent infection by sealing any existing cracks on your heels.
  • Take breaks off your feet if on them for extended periods. This way, your body won’t have to create a rock-solid protective layer. 
  • Avoid open-backed shoes. As hard as it can be during warmer months, avoiding open-backed shoes will prevent cracked heels from getting worse. 

A word of advice from Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists: If you have diabetes, come see our podiatrists to make sure your fissures heal properly. We don’t want you to risk serious complications.

Don’t Wait for Your Heels to Get Any Worse. Make an Appointment Today!

No matter the state of your fissures, we can help you conquer those cracked heels and any complications that may arise. 

All you have to do is call our Chandler office at (480) 963-9000 or fill out our online contact form to set up an appointment. We’re here to help you every step along the way.