What Causes Cracked Heels
OlPhotoV on Shutterstock

What Causes Cracked Heels? Top 5 Facts

The factor that causes cracked heels are- Cracked heels due to dry weather during the winters are the basic cause amongst various other causes. Small cracks on the feet might look unattractive. The main problem arises when these cracks open up deeper and become painful and start bleeding.

Walking around becomes painful with severely cracked heels. Sometimes grabbing a bottle of lotion and lathering it all over your feet does not help. There might be other underlying conditions for your cracked heels.

shutterstock 764204185
Kotin on Shutterstock

 What Causes Cracked Heels?

1. External Causes

Our feet are responsible for holding up our body weight; therefore, our feet have to deal with huge pressure. The skin on the heels is not very elastic and therefore cracks up under pressure. The other causes being –

Keeping in mind the skin of our feet is already dry compared to the other body parts. What causes cracked heels more during dry and cold weather? This happens due to a lack of moisture and humidity.

Wearing open-back shoes leaves your feet exposed to a dirty and dry environment. This accelerates the cause of cracked feet.

Also, open-back shoes do not provide support to the back of the foot. This allows the skin on the heels(the feet pad) to expand, increasing the possibility of cracks. Also for fitting shoes can cause discomfort and lead to cracked heels.

Spending long hours in a wet environment like the bathroom can lead to cracked Heels as skin loses moisture and natural oils in water. Also, using hot water to bathe, rough soaps, and chemical body washes leads to cracked heels.

Work that involves prolonged periods of standing leads to cracked heels because of continuous pressure on the feet. In the case of women wearing heels makes the footpad expand sideways, thus leading to cracked heels.

shutterstock 360964496
CucuMberStudio on Shutterstock

2. What Causes Cracked Heels: Medical Causes

When normal remedies like moisturizing, and wearing covered shoes are not working to solve cracked Heels, the reason might be underlying medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, and other skin problems.

Other than dry weather and bad fitting shoes, there could be another factor that causes dry heels. At times like these, a doctor needs to be referred for a proper diagnosis. A doctor can guide you through the medical factors of what causes cracked heels.

Some of the medical causes of cracked feet are-

  • Athletes’ feet could be termed as a major factor in what causes cracked heels. It is a fungal infection caused by fungi that feed on dead skin and nails. It makes skin jelly and itchy. It starts from the toes and spreads all over the feet leading to cracking heels.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis is another medical condition that can lead to cracked heels. This causes scaly red patches on the feet. A person’s genes generally play an important role in the development of Psoriasis.
  • Eczema is a well-known skin condition, and it affects the feet too. Symptoms of Eczema are generally dry and red itchy patches on the feet. It is generally caused due to allergies and Damp feet.
  • Diabetes leads to nerve damage that affects the body’s ability to control moisture and oil, leading to dry and cracked feet. Diabetes could be named a major factor that causes cracked heels.
  • Obesity can be another factor that causes cracked heels. Heavyweight leads to increased pressure on the fat pad under the heel, leading to cracked heels.
  • Aging can also be a factor that causes cracked heels. As our skin ages, it produces less collagen, the cell turnover rate is low, and the healing process is also slow; thus, our heels become more prone to becoming cracked.
  • Women are more likely to develop cracked heels in comparison to men. Pregnancy in women could be a factor in what causes cracked heels. Women experience cracked heels during pregnancy due to added weight and hormonal changes.
  • Also, after Menopause, women are more likely to get a condition called ‘ acquired keratoderma’ that leads to cracked skin on the heels. This can be a factor in what causes cracked heels.
  • The thyroid is often identified as a factor in what causes cracked heels. During hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is less active and does not regulate the sweat glands on your feet properly, leading to thick leather-like skin, and dryness leading to deep cracks on the painful feet.
  •  Juvenile plantar dermatosis, known as’ sweaty sock syndrome, is another factor what causes cracked heels. It occurs in children between the ages of 3 to 14 years. It leads to scaling and painful cracks on the heels.

3. How To Take Care Of Cracked Heels?

shutterstock 1176447757
aslysun on Shutterstock

Dry Cracked Heels, if ignored and left untreated, could cause more serious problems. The open cracks could get infected and more vulnerable to fungi or bacterial infections. Therefore taking care of cracked Heels while you can is better before it goes out of hand.

Taking care of cracked Heels at home is easy. Moisturizing is the key to repairing cracked heels. Thick moisturizers containing agents such as urea salicylic acid, Alpha-hydroxy acid, or saccharide isomerate would be the best treatment.

Other than that, you can do a small pedicure at home by soaking the feet in lukewarm water with salt and shampoo in it. This softens the soul of the feet to a huge extent then you can use a Pumice stone to Scrub the dead skin cells.

Using a Pumice stone on dry skin can lead to more harm. Therefore using a Pumice stone after soaking your feet in this solution is the best option. After this process is over, apply a thick layer of moisturizer and wear a cotton sock to lock in the moisture. The recommended time to do this pedicure is before going to bed at night.

Sometimes liquid bandages or spray bandages could cover the cracked area of the skin, thus stopping dirt from entering the cracks. Since liquid bandages cover the cracked area, it helps the cracks heal faster than when they are open.

shutterstock 409113127

Along with taking care of your cracked Heels, you should also keep in mind certain factors that could help you with getting softer feet and make your skin supple-

A person can drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated, thus avoiding cracked heels to an extent.

Avoid wearing open-back sandals and try wearing shoes with a cover.

One must not bathe in very hot water and use Harsh Chemicals soaps and skincare with fragrance, alcohol, and retinoids.

During dry Seasons using moisturizer at least 3 times a day is a must, and one must cover their feet with socks made from natural materials like cotton and wool. Wearing cotton socks with shoes allows the skin to breathe and prevents drying out.

There are times when moisturizing and taking care of your feet regularly with home remedies won’t work.

Medical conditions could be what causes cracked heels. Cracked heels are a symptom of many diseases like diabetes, and hypothyroidism. When seeing red and itchy flaking skin and cracked heels and heel pain, the reason could be medical conditions like athlete’s foot, Eczema, juvenile plantar dermatosis, and psoriasis.

At times like this, doctors need to be contacted immediately for further treatment. Even when the cracks become too Deep and start bleeding and cause pain, a doctor needs to be contacted.

Also read: Top 10 Fun Facts About the Nervous System


Infographic That Describes 8 Common Foot Problems You Should Know
Icy Health