Cracked Heels

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What Are Cracked Heels?

Cracked heels (or heel fissures) are a very common foot issue that occurs when the skin on the back and bottom of the heel gets too dry and splits open.  It is usually not serious, however it can cause pain and irritation. Sometimes the cracks can get very deep and bleed, which can lead to infection if ignored.

Fortunately, cracked heels can be easily and effectively treated by a foot specialist and with at-home foot care remedies.


What Are The Symptoms Of Cracked Heels?

The most common symptoms of cracked heels are:

  • Hard, plaster-like skin on your heel
  • Visible cracks on the bottom of your heel
  • Calluses on the rim around your heel
  • Bleeding
  • Heel pain
  • Swelling/inflammation
  • Redness on the heel
  • Dry skin

If you have diabetes it is critical to have cracked heels treated by a chiropodist as soon as symptoms appear. Untreated fissures can leave your feet vulnerable to infections and foot ulcers.


What Causes Cracked Heels?

Cracked heels develop when the skin on the heel gets too dry or if calluses get too thick. Dead skin accumulates and the skin splits apart, or “cracks” open.  If moisture is not restored to the heel, the cracks can grow and bleed.  This can be quite painful.  Open cracks are also vulnerable to infection.

Anyone can get cracked heels, although they occur more often in women than men.  They can be caused or contributed to by:

  • Dry skin
  • Cold weather (which causes dry skin)
  • Skin allergies and conditions that cause skin inflammation
  • Various skin diseases that dry the skin, such as psoriasis
  • Depletion of the fat pad, or cushioning, under the heel


How Do I Treat Cracked Heels?

Cracked heel treatment may include:

  • Moisturize feet with an oil-based balm or cream:  Since cracked heels are mostly caused by dry skin, moisturizing is the first and foremost way to cure most cases of cracked heels. 
  • Apply a chemical exfoliant cream
  • Wash your feet with a gentle, moisturizing soap
  • Routine foot exfoliation to prevent the build up of hardened dry skin
  • Over-the-counter insoles that provide extra cushioning under the heel
  • Professional foot care by a foot specialist: A chiropodist can treat cracked heels by removing callused skin surrounding fissures to repair the skin’s elasticity, as well as offload pressures on the heels to help the fissures close.

Our Toronto foot clinic is open 7 days a week. We offer a variety of treatments and products to heal your cracked heels. You do not need a referral to become a patient at our foot clinic.

Risk Factors

Why Do I Get Cracked Heels?

Factors that may increase your risk of developing cracked heels are:

  • Severely dry skin
  • Cold winter weather (which causes dry skin)
  • Taking frequent very hot baths or showers (Hot water dries the skin out)
  • Using harsh soaps to clean your feet (Harsh soap and detergent damages the skin’s natural protective barrier)
  • Diabetes (This causes poor circulation. Diabetes also impairs the body’s immune system which can prevent fissures from healing). 
  • Overgrown heel calluses


How Do I Prevent Cracked Heels?

Here are various foot care solutions for preventing cracked heels:

  • Moisturize feet with an oil-based cream
  • Avoid excessively hot baths or showers
  • Wash your feet with a gentle, moisturizing soap
  • Routinely exfoliate your feet to prevent the build up of hardened dry skin
  • Avoid using a loofah, pumice stone, or foot file on dry feet
  • If your feet and heels are dry, avoid standing for too long. Excessive pressure on your heel pad (the cushioning under your heel) can cause brittle skin that has lost its elasticity to expand and crack 
  • See a chiropodist (foot specialist) regularly for routine callus removal around the heels.  This repair skin’s elasticity, helps prevent future breaks in the skin and reduces risk of infection
  • See a chiropodist for recommendations on foot creams and foot care products

The foot specialists and knowledgeable staff at our clinic can give you great advice on how to heal your heels.  To book an appointment, call us at 416-769-FEET (3338), or use our online booking form below.  

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Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures. She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.