Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What Are Heel Fissures And How Can I Treat Them?

Have you ever suffered from dry skin? What about on your foot or heel? If you have, you may have suffered from heel fissures.
It is kind of an unusual term for a common foot problem. A fissure is a crack. Just like you can have fissures in the earth, you can have fissures in your skin and a fissure can be very painful. Typically, this will occur on the foot in the heel. People's heels tend to dry out and get dry, cracked and scaly. When one of those cracks develops into a deep crevice, we call it a heel fissure and they can cause a lot of pain. Heel fissures may be caused by wearing open-back sandals or shoes that allow for a lot of slippage around the heel while walking, or by a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis. Diabetes and excess weight can also contribute to heel fissures.
The good thing is, heel fissures can be very simple to treat. Often, you don't even need to see a podiatrist. A few things we would recommend you try that you can do at home are:
1. Take a nail clipper and clip the hard skin on either side of the crack
2. File down the dead, dry skin
3. Soak your feet (warm water helps to soften the skin and makes removal of the dry skin easier. If you are going to use a pumice stone, it helps to soak the skin beforehand.)
4. Use a pumice stone to break up some of that dry skin
5. Finally, just use a good lotion. For some cases, that will work great.
If you decide against the home treatments, or if they are not working for you and you come into our office with heel fissures, we will trim the dry skin and pull all of that off to get it down to where the skin is soft, pink and healthy. Then, we will put a cautery type of an agent on there to cover up the exposed skin, which is sore. Finally, we will recommend a good prescription strength lotion. The urea-containing lotions are usually the best lotions in these situations. Urea is a very strong softening agent. In our office, we recommend something called RevitaDerm, which is an over-the-counter lotion that we carry. It is 40% urea and is prescription strength. The way we recommend using the lotion is to lather it on really thick at night after you have used the pumice stone to break up some of the dry skin. Then, put a sock over your feet. If you leave the RevitaDerm on while you sleep, the medicine can really penetrate. It creates a warm, moist environment that allows that skin to become really soft.
However, if you do that too many nights in a row it can become painful because your skin becomes too soft. So go through that process every other night for a week or so, but continue to put the lotion on in the morning and at night on the days when you are not using the pumice stone.
This method usually eliminates the heel fissures and the dry skin. Once you get on top of the problem, you need to stay on top of it by lubricating that skin to keep it soft. That way you can treat your heel fissures, eliminate that pain and avoid the problems and infection that can potentially develop with untreated heel fissures.
It can be a very tough problem for people who need to be on their feet but continue to have this horrible dry, cracked skin that causes them pain. Don't let heel fissures continue to cause you pain or run the risk of letting an untreated heel fissure turn into something worse, such as an infection. Start the in-home treatments and if that doesn't work for you, see a podiatrist. You don't have to live with pain of untreated heel fissures.

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