Heel cracks are thin, deep clefts in the skin. They can range from the uppermost thick horny layer of the skin to the deepest layers. Cracks occur mostly on the heels and side surfaces of the foot skin. While healthy skin is elastic, smooth and resistant to load, cracked heel skin is dry, brittle and rough, and the uppermost horny layer of dead cells has thickened. Because heel cracks can be extremely painful, they interfere with walking and the activities of athletes; severely restrict a person’s daily life.
Causes of heel crack:
Exposing the skin of the feet with reduced elasticity to excessive tension causes cracks to appear. There are many reasons for this situation:
Skin diseases such as athlete’s foot, eczema and psoriasis are among the most important causes.
Dry skin due to insufficient fluid intake or urea deficiency
Cold weather in winter or dry air indoors, and close contact of the foot skin with dusty floors in open shoes in summer dries the skin.
Dry skin due to estrogen deficiency after menopause in women or in the aging process in both sexes at a later age.
Iron or B vitamin deficiency
Various metabolic diseases, especially diabetes, thyroid failure or kidney diseases.
Structural deformities of the feet or constant friction of shoes that are not suitable for the foot structure
Some genetic skin diseases with thickening and hardening of the skin of the hands and feet
Washing too often, not drying the feet adequately after taking a bath or ablution, leaving them wet
Excessive pressure of the soles of the feet due to excessive weight or excessive walking-running
Treatment of heel cracks:
The first step in the treatment of cracks is to reduce the pain. For this, first of all, after softening the foot skin in warm water, the thickened keratin layer around the crack should be cleaned. After this, ointments containing urea are applied and precautions are taken to prevent the heel skin from being under pressure as much as possible until it heals. It should not be forgotten that deep heel cracks also prepare a suitable ground for the reproduction of various microbes such as fungi and bacteria. In deep cracks that have become wounds, after applying an urea-antibiotic ointment on the wound in the evening, bandaging it in an airtight manner accelerates healing. If there is any of the above-mentioned diseases that trigger crack formation, it should also be treated together. Especially since the blood circulation of diabetics is slow, they should pay attention to foot hygiene and rapid treatment of even the smallest wound. It is necessary to use shoes suitable for the feet, and if there is deformity, it is necessary to get support from silicone insoles that will reduce the pressure. Vitamin or iron deficiency should be corrected with oral supplements.
Which care products are recommended for heel cracks:
Until recently, lubricating ointments were thought to be the best care for dry and chapped skin. However, today it has been scientifically determined that oily ointments clog the skin pores and restrict sweat secretion. On the other hand, it is known that ointments and lotions containing urea increase the water-retaining capacity of the skin without clogging the pores. Thus, since the moisture content of the skin layers increases, the elasticity of our skin increases and it becomes more resistant to impacts. Products containing urea are available in every pharmacy and perfumery.
Prevention of heel cracks:
In order to have a smooth, flexible, crack-resistant foot and heel skin, it is necessary to clean the foot skin with a pumice stone or foot file once a week. Metal rasps should be avoided as they increase the risk of injury to already sensitized skin. At this time, it should be moved in the direction parallel to the possible cracks. Using the file perpendicular to the cracks will deepen the cracks. After the heels are filed, a suitable heel cream should be applied with massage.
In case of cracked skin, the feet should be rubbed with cream every day, not once a week.
Dr. Banu Free Rule