What are they?
Cracked heels occur when the thick and dry skin around the edges of the heel splits. This will not heal as that skin is dead. The split in the skin will then try and tear the skin below which can become painful and bleed. The main risk factors for this problem are the thick dry skin that can build up around the heel; being overweight; and wearing shoes that are not closed in around the heel.
How to manage them?
The best way to manage these cracked heels is to remove the thick skin around the heels and keep it down. This is not easy to do and can be done with a heel file. This has to be done carefully if there is an active split present. After that, if there is a painful active crack present, and then use tape to hold the edges together. Leave the tape in place for at least several days so it can heel. Every time you walk on the crack without the tape, the split just opens up again. Once that has healed, the efforts to keep the thick and dry skin have to be kept down. This means the regular use of a file and the regular application of an emollient cream to soften the skin. The use of shoes that have a closed in heel needs to be worn to help keep the skin from splitting. This is not a ‘one off’ treatment and these strategies have to be kept up on a regular basis.
When to see the doctor?
You will need to see a skilled podiatrist then the above self-care strategies do not work. They will be able to meticulously remove all the dry and hard shin, so that the self-care plan has the best chance to work. They may also use heel cups in the worse cases to help prevent the cracks from happening.