Summertime for most people involves some well-deserved time off, generally involving day trips to the beach and local pools to cool down. However this also means dusting off of your favourite pair of thongs or sandals you haven’t seen or used since last summer. As you enjoy the warm weather, it can spell bad news for your newly exposed heels. During summer, as podiatrists, we frequently see a rapid increase in patients presenting at our Melbourne clinic concerned with dry, sore and cracked heels.
Why do cracked heels happen?
One of the most common summertime foot problems is excessive dead skin on the back and sides of your heels, commonly referred to as callus. Calluses develop as a result of increases in pressure. Callus continues to build up and cause your heels to become drier as the skin thickens, which results in a reduction in the natural elasticity in the skin increasing the chance of skin breakdown. This leads to fissuring of the heel, commonly known as splitting or cracked heels.
What causes callus that leads to cracked heels?
Common causes of callus and cracked heels or heel fissures include:
- Spending too much time barefoot or in thongs and sandals
- Increased forces on heels (long periods of time standing/walking on feet, weight)
- Poorly fitting/hard soled/poor supportive footwear
- Fungal and/or other skin infections
- Genetics – naturally dryer/weak skin
- Aging skin
- Various medical conditions
What are potential complications with cracked heels?
Common problems that occur when your heels become cracked include:
- Pain and difficulty walking
- Infection (may require antibiotics to fully resolve)
What are the treatment options for cracked heels?
The first step to getting your cracked heels back to being baby smooth is to see one of our Melbourne Podiatrists for general foot care treatment. Severely cracked and callused heels require professional podiatry treatment which includes scalpel debridement (safe, medical removal of callus). This may require regular or ongoing maintenance.
Our podiatrists can take a full history in order to determine the cause(s) of your heel fissures. In some cases your gait (how you walk) may contribute to increased callus on your heels.
If you have dry, cracked heels and are unsure of the underlying cause book in with one of our Melbourne Podiatrists today and keep your feet in top shape for summer.