What to Do With your Cracked and Callused Heels

So
its official fall is here.  It’s time to kick off our flip flops. But
before you hide your feet with shoes you might what to take a good look
at them. If you are like most of us you have cracked heels. Now before
you hang your head in shame and embarrassment. The good news is that
those baby smooth heels are achievable with a little elbow grease and
help from your podiatrist. Most minor cracked heels are able to be
treated at home, but for better results your podiatrist can remove the
dead skin from your feet in just 30mins, leaving them soft, smooth and
ready for sandals.



So What Causes Cracked Heels?

Cracked
heels are caused by cracking or splitting of the skin. This splitting
may be due to dryness or thickening of the skin (callus) that cracks and
breaks under pressure.

When the skin around the heels
becomes thickened or dry, it loses it’s elasticity, and can split under
simple pressures such as that from walking. This can lead to painful
and even bleeding cracked heels. This situation is intensified in people
who have a large fatty pad on the sole of their feet. Other causes of
increased pressure to the heel includes prolonged standing, pregnancy or
excess weight. Increased weight causes increased pressure on the heels
causing callus. With increased weight the heel is also required to
expand more and hence can often crack more.

1.Walking around barefooted or in footwear such as flip flops, sling or open backed sandals can lead to this unsightly condition

2.
Sometimes it is just the luck of the draw, in other wards being
genetically predisposed to dry cracked heels. Some individuals can have
thick callus heels but don’t crack where as others have no callus but
crack badly after a day on the beach.

3. Ill fitting shoes or sandals that don’t support the heels from expanding sideways under pressure.

4.
Unhygienic circumstances or conditions as well as fungal
infections/tinea. Unhealthy, dry scaly skin that can be caused by
climate, such as low humidity during dry summers or cold winters

5. Medical Causes of Cracked Heels-Here are some of the more common conditions that can lead to the drying of the skin:

  •  Genetics (mentioned above)
  •  Diabetes where autonomic neuropathy leads to less sweating and thus less moisture
  • Thyroid problems
  • Dermatitis caused by Tinea / Athletes feet
  • Venous stasis dermatitis
  • Downs syndrome
  • Kidney disease or taking diuretics
  • Lymphoma
  • Psoriasis and Eczema

Podiatry Treatments

The
quickest way to get those smooth heels is to visit your podiatrist who
can safely remove the thick dead skin and leave your heels healthy and
smooth.  He/She can also provide you with information on the best creams
for your skin type, as well as rule out more serious reasons for your
dry and cracked heels

Here are some simple treatments you can do at home include:

Using
a heel balm (thick moisturizer)  twice daily. Using a heel balm in the
morning is very important as it increases the elasticity of the skin of
your heels before you get moving for the day and assists in decreasing
the occurrence of cracks. If you don’t like the feeling of a heel balm
on your feet, just try using a small amount around the rims of the heels
and on cracked areas only or use a heel balm stick. This will mean less
greasiness on your feet and less chance of slipping

A
pumice stone or a foot file (like a giant emery board) can be used to
reduce the thickness of the hard skin in less severe cases. However as
mentioned above in the more severe cases you may need the help of your
podiatrist.

Drink plenty of water to keep you and your the skin hydrated.
In
some cases wearing heel cups in your shoes may help. Heel cups made of
silicon can help to keep your feet moist and stop the heel pad from
expanding excessively.

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