Fissures are cracks in the skin, in combination with a thick formation of skin layers (also known as calluses) commonly found on the ball of the foot, heel, sides of the foot.
Cracks in the heels are caused by excessive pressure combined with the thick skin, and open shoe gear. A large majority of our patients get fissures when wearing rubber or leather sandals in the summer. This is caused mostly by inflammation and swelling in the skin, because of irritating materials.
Diabetes and other diseases like Lupus can increase the incidence of dry cracked skin, especially in the feet and hands.
These fissures can deepen on the outer surface of the skin or can go deeper causing bleeding or infection. Pain ranges from dull to sharp depending upon the level of irritation and compression of the nerves that are around these areas.
Certain cases of heel fissures can be treated with conservative adjustments such as wearing different shoes or topical medication, while more severe instances of heel fissures can qualify for surgical treatment.
Conservative treatment options that can reduce or eliminate pain caused by corns and calluses include the following:
Anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen or Naprosyn aspirin products, and Acetaminophen can help with the chronic pain caused by heel fissures. Anti-fungal medication, and topical cortisone can also alleviate dryness, inflammation, and soreness.
Temporary arch supports or custom molded orthotics can minimize the pressure on the spur or correct the foot position causing the pressure. These devices are a good solution for long-term treatment of heel fissures, with or without surgical intervention.
Reduction of the heel fissure, by either professional sharp debridement (shaving) or consistent filing, will give temporary relief. Use caution with over the counter callus removal medication or pads, since this medication is a type of acid that can cause an ulceration or infection if not used properly or in excess.
The time to heal cracked heels depends on the severity. Superficial heel cracks can heal as fast as a week with removal of the dead skin and topical creams. If thicker skin or deeper cracks are involved, they can take two to four weeks to heal, even with proper medication and care.
You can heal cracked heels naturally with topical antibiotics and removing the thick dead skin. Then softening creams and lotions at night to hydrate the skin.
Yes, cracked heels can get infected. Once dirt, bacteria, or fungus is introduced to the layers beneath the epidermis, they can hide and grow in these cracks.
Podiatrists normally treat cracked heels with Urea cream with or without cortisone. If they are infected, an oral or topical antibiotic may be used as well.
Home remedies to soften feet include foot soaks, thick creams and lotions, or over the counter 1% hydrocortisone cream.
You should see a doctor for a cracked heel if there are any signs of infection which include: redness, pain, elevated temperature, drainage, and odor.
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