What Are Heel Fissures?

Heel fissures—also known as cracked heels—are cracks that occur on one or both feet when the skin on the heels becomes hard, flaky and dry. When left untreated, the cracks can become painful, infected or bleed, and can make everyday activity uncomfortable.

What Causes Heel Fissures?

Heel fissures only occur when the skin is extremely dried out. This can be due to a number of reasons, including:

  • Certain skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Cold weather
  • Complications from diabetes
  • Dehydration
  • Excess pressure placed on feet due to obesity
  • Not moisturizing feet properly
  • Poor nutrition
  • Scrubbing the feet dry
  • Taking baths or showers that are too hot
  • Using harsh soap
How Can They Be Prevented?

The key to avoiding heel fissures—inside and out—includes:

  • Avoiding intense stress on the feet (e.g., running) if a fissure seems like it’s beginning to form
  • Avoiding walking barefoot on any surface for an extended period
  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and applying an oil-based lotion or salve at night with socks every day
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and a diet rich in essential fatty acids (e.g., Omega-3s)
  • Managing any underlying conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders and kidney disease
  • Wearing closed-in shoes and socks when possible
How Are Heel Fissures Treated?

In the majority of cases, the fissures can be treated at home. Before going to bed, simply apply foot cream at night and put on cotton socks so the skin can absorb it effectively. Then, in the morning during a shower or bath, the dead skin can be gently removed using a callus file or pumice stone. Avoiding open shoes like flip-flops or those with no support are also recommended to keep the fissures from reoccurring.

However, should home treatments not resolve the fissures within a few days, patients should contact a podiatrist for further treatment. This is especially true for patients with an underlying condition, such as diabetes, or if an infection is suspected.

For the Ultimate Heel Care

Essex Union Podiatry (EUP) is a complete foot and ankle practice, serving the podiatric needs of Essex and Union Counties. Our specialty-trained physicians utilize the latest tools and techniques to diagnose, treat and provide preventative care for all foot and ankle conditions. With an emphasis on patient education, our practice offers quality care by creating an informative and personalized treatment plan tailored to meet individual needs.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, contact Essex Union Podiatry today.

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Meet Our Doctors

The physicians of Essex Union Podiatry are experienced and dedicated professionals trained in various subspecialties of podiatry care. Click on the pictures below to learn more about our doctors.

Jason P. Galante, DPM,
DABPM, AASPS

Jason Galante, DPM, AASPS

Nancy A. Kaplan, DPM, MBA, AACHE, FACFAS

NANCY A. KAPLAN, DPM, FASPS

Sarah E. Haller, DPM, AACFAS

SARAH E. HALLER