Cracked heels are a very prevalent foot disorder, technically known as heel fissures. They are caused by dried-out skin and made much more complicated if the skin round the edge of the rearfoot is thickened. Cracked heels may be painful to stand on and also the skin may bleed.

Some people generally have a naturally dry skin which makes the skin easy to split. The thicker dry skin (callus) around the back heel which is more likely to tear is usually resulting from weight bearing reasons which increase pressures under the heel (eg the way you walk).

Factors which could also be involved in the explanation for cracked heel skin include things like:

  • extended weight bearing
  • being obese
  • open rearfoot on the footwear
  • a number of medical conditions increase the risk to a drying skin (such as diabetes)
  • skin problems (eg psoriasis)

Self care for cracked heels:

  • Applying a good oil based moisturizing ointment twice daily is very fundamental to be able to get on top of this problem. A pumice pad can be used to decrease the thickness of the hard skin. It is important to avoid open back footwear or thin sole footwear.
  • It is best not to try and debride the hard skin your self using a blade or scissors. There’s a risk of an infection developing and taking too much off.

A Podiatrist dealing with cracked heels can involve a number of approaches:

  • checking out the cause of the issue, and this can be addressed
  • taking off the harder thick skin by way of carefully debriding it (most of the cracks probably won’t mend unless the skin is not debrided). This will have to be done regularly. Regular maintenance may be the best way to prevent the problem.
  • when the cracked heels are very painful, strapping may be used to ‘hold’ the splits together while they heal (a routine maintenance system after this to stop recurrence is very important).
  • prescription along with tips with regards to the most appropriate moisturizer or cream.
  • advice about shoes as well as self care of the cracked heels.
  • shoe inserts may be used to change the way you walk in order to avoid the thicker skin from happening (these are suggested for cases of heel callus and aren’t appropriate for everyone).
  • a heel cup can be used to maintain your heel fat pad from broadening side to side. This cup is used in the footwear and could be quite effective at prevention if made use of on a regular basis.
  • in exceptional instances some Podiatric physicians and skin doctors have used a tissue ‘glue’ to stick the sides of the epidermis with each other, to ensure the splits might mend.


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