Dry Skin and Cracked Heels
Dry skin and the associated cracked heels can be an unsightly and painful condition that affects a wide variety of people.
Dry cracked skin can arise from a number of causes such as;
- Thickened callous that dries and hardens (this is the most common cause)
- Drying of the skin with age
- Any systemic disease that causes the blood and nervous supply in the peripheries to be reduced, such as Diabetes and peripheral vascular disease
The most common location for dry skin to occur is around the heels. This is primarily due to the thickened callous tissue drying out and splitting. This is accentuated by wearing open backed shoes or going bare foot which cause the skin of the foot to dry at a greater rate.
Thickened cracked skin can also be caused by age and diabetes related reduction in blood flow and neural innovation to the area. Just as there are nerves that feel temperature and pain, there are nerves that control the amount of moisture that is to be released into the skin. As these nerves become damaged with age and diabetes they begin to function abnormally which leads to a drying of the skin on the feet and hands.
Treatment for dry cracked skin involves the use of an emollient (moisturizer) that contains 10-25% urea (e.g. Eulactol Heel Balm). This will soften the thickened skin making it less likely to crack and split.
For severely cracked feet it is recommended to visit your podiatrist where they will debride the thickened area of skin. Once this is done the emollient will help to keep the skin on the feet and heels supple and limit the extent of cracking.