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Martin Foot & Ankle

Cracking the Cause of Split Heels

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The weather can affect your foot health and comfort. Strange as it may seem at first, it’s true. Factors like temperature and humidity can change the health and feeling of the skin on your feet. You see this most clearly in summer and in winter, when temperatures are at their most extreme. Hot weather tends to dehydrate you quickly, which decreases moisture in your skin. Cold winter air also saps moisture directly from you. This can easily contribute to problems like cracked heels. These aren’t the only causes of fissures in your heels, of course. Other outside factors also affect your skin and its health.

Splits and cracks in the skin on your heels develop when they don’t have enough moisture. Normally, skin is somewhat stretchy. Under strain and pressure, it adjusts and adapts to your feet. When it dries out, however, it stiffens and becomes less flexible. Instead of stretching under pressure, it tears. You see this fairly often in the heels, since they are prone to thick, dry, inflexible calluses.

So anything that dries out your skin could contribute to cracked heels. Temperature extremes that dry out your feet certainly is one way, but even your own hygiene habits may exacerbate the problem. Very hot baths or showers tend to dehydrate the surface of your skin. Harsh, non-moisturizing soap has a similar effect. Even soaking your feet in hot water too often or for too long a time can take a toll.

Some people are naturally more prone to the problem, or have preexisting conditions that make it more likely. Being overweight puts a lot of pressure on the heels, and if your skin isn’t flexible enough, the weight can be enough to split it. Diabetes and hypothyroidism dehydrate you and dry out your skin. Psoriasis creates thick, stiff plaques that may be prone to cracking, too.

Whatever the initial cause, however, you can take care of your heels and moisturize them so they heal. Our team at Martin Foot and Ankle can help you find a moisturizer that fits your unique needs, as well as address the underlying condition that contributed to the problem in the first place. If you’re struggling with splitting heels, just make an appointment with us online. You can also call our Hanover, Lancaster, Lititz and York offices at (717) 757-3537.
Dr. Maria Ann Kasper
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