Our skin is a good barometer which indicates how healthy the body is. Skin acts as a covering and works as a defence force against infection. It protects our body from heat or cold, external germs, noxious chemicals or toxins, etc. The most common friction spots harden to give additional protection against injury, whereas other parts remain soft. Dry parched skin indicates its poor quality.
Cracks in the heel or heel fissures are most commonly seen in older people or persons who constantly walk barefoot. It can affect either both the heels or one of the heel. But most commonly, it is seen on both the heels. Likewise, fissures are more common with diseases like diabetes, eczema, psoriasis, etc. Females suffer most commonly than males, “with more indulgence in water, causing cracks”. But, unfortunately, people living in dry climates have higher incidence than persons in wet regions.
- Pressure and frequent movements
- Standing for a long time
- Change in walking posture
- Summer heat
- Over or constant indulgence in water
- Unhealthy, dry scaly skin due to climate or diseases
- Thick dry scaly skin with loss of elasticity due to ageing – cracks have higher incidence over age
- Deformity of foot due to congenital problem or injury or diseases – Flat foot, calcaneal spurs, etc
- Diseases like diabetes, eczema and psoriasis can also contribute to cracked feet
- Deficiency of vitamins, minerals and zinc
- Keep soles clean
- Wear soft, cushioned, comfortable shoes or slippers
- Wear socks to prevent friction
- Apply oil, if there is dryness
- Take rich sources of vitamins – fruits, dates, leafy vegetables etc.
- Walking bare foot
- Tight shoes
- Standing for a long time in water
- Contact of bleaching powder or any other chemical
- Wash properly at bed time and make sure that sand or mud particles are not present inside the cracks
Avoid for better healing
- Sporting activities during the healing process
- Barefoot walking to avoid mud getting into the cracks
- Any friction or injury or chemical contact
- Picking or peeling of skin since it may become red and sore
- Sour foods, non-veg, fast foods, oily foods
For better healing
- Do skin scrapping to reduce the thickness of the skin
- Soak the soles in lukewarm water for 10 minutes and scrap mildly to reduce thickness. Some rub the foot against the floor or use stones or scrubber or loofah (mesh from the vegetable) while bathing, with the same result
- Don’t be cruel in removing the thick skin to prevent injury
Complications – Usually, there won’t be any complications. But when the cracks are deep and sufferer is diabetic, then there lies the danger of bleeding, infection and serious complications. So cracks must be attended to in the initial period itself or otherwise it may extend the damage to the internal organs of the body like the crack in a building ruining the whole structure when left un-repaired. Also it is often noticed that suppressing the cracked heels with steroidal ointments will lead to respiratory or asthma complaints. The relationship is not clearly known.
General treatment – In Allopathy, mostly internal medicines are not prescribed. Only in extremely painful deep cracks, antibiotics are used to control the infection. But the course of antibiotics often manages the situation temporarily and the cracks recur once you stop the medicines. External applications like germicidal or bactericidal or antiseptic or steroids are also commonly prescribed. These applications also clear the complaint very temporarily i.e. while in use. Vaseline or liquid paraffin is commonly advised for moisturising.
Treating any skin disorder is very tough, since it is the outermost part of the body and also often exposed to irritants or pollutants or frictions, which hinder the action of drugs. Also, recurrence is common in most skin disorders, giving no exception for cracks too. Usually, external treatment won’t cure any complaints. So it is better to avoid topical medicinal applications except moisturiser, since ointments or creams will suppress the complaints for the time of use only. Also, if they are used continuously, due to development of drug resistance, the condition may worsen.
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