Fissures on the feet also known as heel fissures or cracked heels are more common than you think. These are caused by dry skin, calluses, thickened skin, or various other external factors. However, the knowledge about the disease is still not up to date and that could lead to improper treatment regimens.
Foot Fissures: A Comprehensive Guide
They usually appear on the sides of the feet, at the back of the heels. The causes of the fissures include:
1. Dry skin(Xerosis)- Dry skin is one of the primary causes of fissures on the feet. While the heels of feet are generally thicker when compared to other parts of the body, they also lack the presence of oil. This means it cannot retain moisture like other parts of the body. Moisture is important for the skin to be elastic and soft as it is. Unfortunately, the heels don’t have this ability and this makes them susceptible to cracking and tearing. You are prone to it if you live in particularly humid climates and if you take a bath very frequently.
2. Calluses- Feet experience friction daily. We need them for the simplest of chores and after a while, this could develop thickened skin on them. They are initially formed as a protective layer to protect your feet from any harm that could come to them especially if you spend a lot of time standing. However, when the calluses become thicker, they cause fissures on the feet as they begin to crack open.
3. Pressure and friction- Prolonged standings on hard floors or wood while wearing open-back shoes or even sandals can be hard on the feet. When you expose it to this kind of environment, it is bound to weather down and ultimately make it crack. The pressure on the feet makes them vulnerable to developing deep fissures.
4. Environmental factors- These could include low humidity leading to moisture loss and extreme temperatures like cold or hot. Both of them would crack on the skin.
5. Medications- Taking some medications could also be the reason why your feet are all cracked up. Diabetes patients have often compromised blood circulation. This could lead to a slow healing process and to aggravate the condition, they also have neuropathy. Losing sensation in the feet, they never even know if they had the condition. Eczema or atopic dermatitis leads to dry, inflamed skin which could contribute to the fissures. Psoriasis, another autoimmune condition causes scaly skin. Lastly, patients taking treatment for hypothyroidism can have drier feet.
Treatment of foot fissures
While treating fissures the whole idea is to prevent the infection, heal the existing wounds, and stop its formation.
1. Moisturizing- Use thick foot cream, hydrating ointment, or lotion to hydrate the skin restoring its youth. Make sure you apply it before bedtime and after bath every day. Go for the ones that contain ceramides, petroleum, and oils like almond or coconut.
2. Soaking and exfoliation- Soak your feet in warm and soapy water to soften your feet. You could treat yourself with some soothing oil if they are too exposed and that can be enervating. You should use the pumice stone as well as filer to make the calluses go away.
3. Footwear- Choose comfortable shoes that provide cushioning and support. Say not to hard-based heels and sandals.
4. Orthotic Insoles- Consider using custom-made orthocare shoes to prevent further damage or no damage at all.
5. Limit Standing- Prolonged times of standing could be harmful to the feet and you should therefore limit the hours.
6. Stay hydrated- Drink lots of water to help the feet retain moisture.
7. Dietary supplements- People find relief in taking fish oil and primrose oil as dietary supplements to alleviate the condition and maybe stop it from occurring.
8. Medications- Always rely on medications if the fissures spiral out of control or even start to bleed. Not seeking medical attention could lead to various complications.
Although not so serious, fissures could be quite hurtful, and preventing it could be an easier option. If any medications cause distress, you should ask your healthcare provider for a change of the ingredients. Additionally, pay attention to the footwear you wear to get some relief.