The sandals and flip flips that exposed your feet to the sand and sun are making their way to the shoe closets. It’s time to get your feet ready for colder weather. So let’s talk about your heels, specifically, your cracked heels. Cracked heels are the result of dry or thickened skin that has lost its elasticity and has split under pressure. Sometimes these cracks, or fissures, bleed, become infected, and cause pain. They aren’t very pretty to look at, either.
Heel cracks are not seasonal. However, winter time adds the elements of colder temperatures, indoor heat, drier humidity, and boots or closed-in shoes that do not fit properly to these year-round causes of cracked heels:
• The drying effect of walking bare-heeled;
• Standing for long periods of time;
• Improper foot hygiene, including not taking care of the feet on a daily basis;
• Excess weight that causes the heel to expand and crack;
• Any low-humidity climate that causes dry, scaly skin;
• Vitamin deficiencies; and
• Health or medical conditions including but not limited to genetics that determine skin type, poor circulation, hormone imbalances, diabetes, kidney disease, and lymphoma.
With a little bit of TLC, heels will stay soft and smooth. For general heel health or for minor heel cracks, the following measures may be helpful:
• Stay hydrated.
• Wear closed-in, properly-sized shoes and cotton socks whenever possible.
• Wash your feet every day using warm, soapy water. Completely dry your feet.
• Treat your feet to a warm, 10 to 15 minute foot soak using a “store bought” product or a make-it-yourself recipe of your own. Completely dry your feet. For an extra bit of comfort, put on clean cotton socks.
• While washing or soaking your feet, exfoliate your heels gently with a wash cloth, loofa sponge, foot file, or pumice stone.
• Moisturize your heels daily with foot cream, foot lotion, or a heel balm. Put on clean cotton socks afterward.
• Put heel cups in your shoes to prevent dryness and the expansion of the heel pad.
Since cracked heels can be a warning of bed sores, elderly persons should be evaluated by Dr. Burmeister before starting any at-home treatments.
If at-home treatments do not offer relief or improvement, or the cracks bleed or become more painful, then it’s time to enlist the professional help of Dr. Burmeister. He will remove the dead skin from your heels and offer advice about their treatment and care. More importantly, he may be able to diagnose and treat any underlying causes of your cracked skin.
If cracked heels are affecting you or someone for whom you provide care, Dr. Jeffrey Burmeister, DPM, and his experienced staff are ready to fully diagnose, treat, and help you get back your soft, smooth, and pain-free heels. It’s easy to schedule an appointment by completing an online appointment request at www.jacksonvillefootandlaser.com/contact.html or by calling (904) 765-8889. Let us help you today!