Cracked Heels: Causes and Prevention
Your skin is like a human shield; it protects you from dirt and infections. But it can’t protect you properly if it’s injured. Cracked skin is one such ailment. Not only is it painful, but it’s also not the most aesthetically-pleasing condition to have!
Cracked skin results from tiny splits that occur in dry, damaged skin. If left untreated, these tears can grow into deeper cracks,; also known as fissures. A common area for cracks to appear is the heel, since it carries the weight of the body whenever you stand and is a prime location for dry skin to build up. Without regular removal of dry skin, compounded by lack of moisture, cracked heels may appear more often.
In the initial stage of the condition, the heel starts to feel tight when placed under any kind of strain. Intense dryness, itching and tenderness of the skin are often the first signals of the problem. The affected area can turn yellow or brown, in colour and tends to harden significantly.
In its more advanced stage, the heel may become so dry that it turns white, yellowish or red in and begins to flake. Cracks can deepen to the extent that the simple act of walking becomes incredibly difficult. If left untreated, cracked heels may start to bleed and become infected with bacteria.
Dehydrated skin is one of the biggest causes of cracked skin. Once moisture is lost, the heel starts to produce thick areas of rough skin as a form of protection. As a result, the skin is prevented from healing sufficiently. At the beginning cracked skin may only feel like a light bother, but over time it will become more painful to walk on if not treated immediately. In more advanced stages, cracked heels can feel itchy and, painful, and may also begin to bleed from pressure.
Calluses are patches of yellowish thick, dry skin that grow over injured areas of the skin in order to protect it. If left untreated, calluses often split under pressure. Open-back shoes are a major culprit when it comes to calluses, as they don’t provide any support for the pad of the foot. Barefoot walking, wearing uncomfortable shoes, dehydration, the use of harsh soaps, and overly vigorous scrubbing can also contribute to or worsen the problem.
Other factors that can contribute to dry skin include a lack of minerals and vitamins (such as iron), obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism and problems with pronation of the foot. Chronic skin conditions like psoriasis can also cause dehydrated skin. Other causes include—dry indoor heating, and,—exposure to cold weather.
An effective way to prevent the formation of cracked skin is through the use of a moisturizer. Amopé Pedi Perfect™ Daily Moisturizer provides feet with moisture for up to 24 hours at a time. Another essential tool in the fight against dry skin on feet is a foot file, which can eradicate dead skin by removing it layer-by-layer until smoother, softer skin is revealed.
When it comes to cracked skin, taking care of your feet regularly is always better than cure. It’s important that you give your feet the same care and attention that you’d give the rest of your body. If you’re always pressed for time, soften hard skin quickly by soaking your feet in warm water. Remember to wear shoes that protect and support the pad of the foot, and avoid shoes that are too loose or tight.