Heel fissures can be painful and increase infection risk.Heel fissures are caused by cracked, dry, and calloused skin at the backs of your feet. They most commonly occur behind or under your heels. It isn’t unusual for this tract of skin to get rough during long spells of dry weather—you’re likely to experience some cracking in the winter, or if you spend a lot of time in cool, air-conditioned spaces. 

In some cases, though, fissures may be deep, semi-permanent, and painful. If you have fissures with visibly red, tender tissue, you need to talk to a podiatrist about the cause and potential treatment. 

Causes of Heel Fissures

Sometimes heel fissures are the end-result of poor skin care. Fissures frequently start as dry, rough, or scaly patches of skin at the bottoms of the feet, especially around the heels. For some people, a bit of lotion is enough to fix the problem. But if you’ve neglected your feet—or simply live somewhere that’s exceptionally dry—fissures can get progressively worse until your skin has broken down to a point where it’s vulnerable to infection.

Heel fissures can also be caused or accelerated by other medical conditions, like diabetes. 

Self-Care Options

If your fissures aren’t causing exceptional pain or discomfort, you can try to treat them at home. Podiatrists recommend that you: 

  • Use skin creams or lotion to moisturize your feet, especially before going to bed 
  • Wear socks to sleep after moisturizing 
  • Avoid close-fitting shoes, heels, or other footwear likely to aggravate your fissures 
  • Exfoliate your feet regularly, using a pumice rock, loofah, or foot scrub 

When to See a Podiatrist

For stubborn or particularly deep fissures, see a podiatrist. One of the most common techniques podiatrists use to remove fissures is called debriding. During a debriding procedure, a podiatrist uses a small scalpel or similar tool to scrape and cut away dried-out and damaged skin. Sometimes, they may also use a small, sander-like device to further wear down fissures. 

While the debriding process may not sound especially pleasant, it is effective and completely pain-free. The areas surrounding your fissures are comprised of tough, dead skin that is devoid of any pain receptors or nerve endings. 

Your podiatrist should also help you choose oils and moisturizers to ensure your fissures don’t come back while discussing the root cause of your particular problem. 

We’re Here to Help

Painful, recurring cracks should never be ignored. That’s because heel fissures can sometimes be caused or accelerated by dangerous medical conditions, like diabetes, psoriasis, or arthritis. An experienced podiatrist can help you figure out what’s causing your fissures, remove them, and assist you in ensuring they don’t come back. Contact us today.