Cracked heels are often a complaint of patients, especially in the summer.  You may ask why it is so prevalent during the summer season?  Well, during the summer months people wear flip flops and Crocs.  Additionally, summer is typically a drier season that contributes to dry skin.  I am sure you have tried to slather lotion on, but it has not helped at all.  The cycle continues and the condition worsens, then the cracked heels occur to the point that it bleeds and hurt.  Is that too a familiar scenario?  So this is my thought on the issue.

Our feet support our body weight and undergo a lot of stress on a daily basis.  As your foot lands on the ground, it hits the heel first.  The weight spread the heel pad and tension expands your skin.  When there is enough force, it will crack with repetitive trauma.  Certain systemic conditions could cause cracked heels as well like obesity, diabetes, psoriasis, eczema, hypothyroidism, athlete’s foot infection and Sjogren’s syndrome.

While certain medical conditions are out of your control and require medical specialist to see you through, plain old dry skin is treatable.   Say you know that you have dry skin and you want more supple skin, you have to follow two golden rules – shock absorption for your feet and moisturizer for your skin.  You cannot wear flip flops all summer long and expect soft skin.  So there is a balance in wearing tennis shoes and sandals with a nice arch foot bed to support the heels and arches.  You can try to take the callused layers down by using a device that shaves the callused skin away, just don’t go too deep.  To moisturize, use a good body lotion that rehydrates the skin.   Better yet, apply it at night and wear socks over it to keep the moisture lock in throughout the night.

When you have itchiness and peeling of the skin, it is more than just dry skin.  It may be athlete’s foot infection or eczema.  Those two common causes are treated with prescription topical medication.  So you would need to come in for an assessment.  If you need supportive sandals to wear, may I recommend Vionic sandals?  They are supportive and attractive.  They have a great foot bed that boasts an arch support and shock absorption.  Cracked heels or fissures require some TLC to your feet.  A little more attention to what you wear on your feet and daily regimen of moisturizer will go a long way.

Dr. Dang H. Vu, DPM is a Baltimore Podiatrist with more than 15 years of experience. He completed his residency at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, where he furthered his surgical expertise. He now holds privileges at Northwest Hospital. He offers services from three Baltimore Locations in Reisterstown, Towson and in the Rotunda Building in Hampden. You can find directions and request an appointment on his website FamilyPodiatryofMD.com