Cracked heels can occur for a number of reasons, from lacking enough moisture to exposing footwear. If you’ve noticed symptoms such as dry skin thickening around your heels, or have cracked skin or heel pain, then knowing the causes can help you understand the condition, and could prevent further relapses from happening.
A wide range of different causes
There are several potential causes of cracked heels. Take a look at your routine and if you can identify anything below that may be affecting you, then try altering your current habits.
Here are the most common causes that can lead to cracked heels:
- Lacking Moisture – the most common cause of cracked heels. The skin underneath your feet is often dry, rough and chapped. This is because the skin around your heels has a low level of sweat glands. Tallow normally supports the skin to become soft, and prevents it from becoming dry. If your skin is particularly dry then cracked skin appears more easily due to less elasticity, and can exacerbate any of the below.
- Deficiencies - Lack of vitamins, minerals and zinc in your diet can affect your heel health.
- Pressure – Spending a long time standing at work or home.
- Aging skin – Thick, dry, scaly skin loses its elasticity with age, and as such cracks could have higher incidence as you become older.
- Disorders - Athlete’s foot, Psoriasis, Eczema, Thyroid disease, Diabetes and some other skin conditions can be the cause of cracked heels.
- Obesity – Heavy weight has the potential to increase the pressure on the fat pad under the heel. This can cause it to expand sideways and, if the skin lacks flexibility, put pressure on the feet. This leads to cracked heels.
- Exposing footwear - Back-open sandals or shoes can allow fat under the heel to expand sideways and increases the possibility of cracks on your heels. Taking care of your feet regularly is important when wearing exposing footwear.
- Hygiene - Unhygienic circumstances or conditions can be a further cause.
- Water - Water can take away natural oils from the skin and can leave the skin rough and/or dry. Standing for prolonged periods in damp areas, such as a bathroom, can cause dry and cracked heels.
- Poorly-fitting shoes, standing for a long time or change in walking posture.
- Genetics - Naturally dry or thick dry skin on feet (callus) around the heel could be a genetic cause of cracked heels.
Why cracked heels happen?
Cracked heels are caused when the skin around your heels splits apart. A mixture of dryness and pressure lead to cracked heels, as the skin becomes unable to keep up moisture levels and ultimately becomes fragile, leading to breaks.
What can I do against cracked heels?
Changing your diet to one which includes calcium, iron and zinc rich foods might improve your cracked heels. In many cases, this can help boost skin health, although it’s best to check with your family physician first before making diet alterations.
If you find that your symptoms persist, even after treatment, then speak to your family physician or dermatologist to find out if there might be any other potential causes or underlying health problems and related treatment.