Dry, cracked heels are not only unsightly, but they can also be a source of pain and embarrassment. When the fissures in your heel become so dry and cracked that they bleed and hurt when you walk, it’s time to seek professional care from your podiatrist. Left untreated, heel fissures can become so deep and painful that they lead to an infection.
Cracked heels are most commonly caused by splitting of the skin as a result of severe dryness or thickening of a callus on your heel. Severe cases of dry, cracked heels can occur for numerous reasons, including:
- Cold winter weather or dry climates
- Having diabetes
- Scrubbing feet too harshly
- Soaking in a hot bath or shower for too long or too frequently
- Not moisturizing the feet
- Increased weight
- Walking barefoot or wearing open-backed sandals or shoes
- Prolonged standing at work or home
- Chronic skin problems, such as eczema or psoriasis
Here are a few tips for keeping heels from cracking:
- Moisturize your feet daily.
- Avoid walking barefoot or wearing open-backed shoes.
- Opt for mild soaps that won’t dry out your heels.
- Increase your water intake to keep your body hydrated.
- Limit time in the shower as hot water dries out the skin.
- Use a pumice stone or file as directed by your doctor to gently decrease thick calluses.
When to Visit Our Office
Cracked heels may begin as an annoyance or simple cosmetic issue, but they can lead to pain and serious infection if not managed properly. Most cases of dry, cracked heels will get better with a little foot pampering or over-the-counter foot cream.
When your heels are severely cracked or painful and conservative treatments have proven ineffective, visit our office. People with diabetes are at an especially high risk for health problems, and should not wait to have dry feet cared for. Severely cracked heels need moisture to avoid pain, bleeding and infection. A podiatrist can work with you to relieve your cracked heels, and get you back on your feet again.
The summertime is a great time to show off your new sandals and allow your feet to breathe. But since the warmer months can be rough on your feet, it's important to give your feet a little extra care to keep them looking great and feeling healthy. Here are a few tips for keeping your feet in tip-top shape during the summer.
Keep feet clean
The best line of defense against fungal infections is proper hygiene and regular inspection of the feet and toes. Wash feet with soap and water daily, and dry them thoroughly to prevent infection. Wear shower shoes in public places, like pools and locker rooms. And to prevent ingrown nails and toenail fungus, keep toenails trimmed straight across.
Avoid walking barefoot
Walking outside in the summertime without shoes increases the risk of injury and infection. You never know what’s sitting out on the beach, and the last thing you want is to unexpectedly step on a sharp rock or piece of debris and cut your foot.
Protect feet from the sun
Wearing sunscreen is extremely important in the summertime - and that means lathering up the exposed skin on your feet and ankles too. If you’re a habitual sandals wearer, make sure to put sunscreen on before putting your feet in your shoes!
Keep your feet fungus free
Coupled with good foot hygiene, you can also prevent toenail fungus by alternating your shoes. If you suspect a fungus infected nail, visit us right away for early treatment.
Treat your feet to a pedicure
Eliminate rough, dead, winter skin and improve the appearance of your toenails with a pedicure. Do it yourself, or pamper yourself with a professional pedicure for attractive summer feet you'll be proud to show off.
The American Podiatric Medical Association recommends getting your pedicure in the morning, when salon foot baths are at their cleanest. Don’t shave your legs prior to your pedicure, even if you’re tempted to! When your legs are freshly shaven, they can have small cuts that allow bacteria to enter. Also, ensure you or the person performing your pedicure does not cut your cuticles, because they are your nail’s barrier to infection.
After the pedicure, don’t leave nail polish on all summer long. Remove it periodically to allow your nail bed to breathe, and then you’re free to swap to another festive summer color!
Prevent painful blisters
Sandals and flip-flops can lead to irritating blisters when they rub against your bare skin. Use padding or bandages to prevent and reduce friction.
Examine your flip flops
Flip flops are great for allowing your feet to breathe all summer long, but thong sandals can result in sore feet and ankles due to their lack of support. Choose styles with arch and heel support to keep feet healthy and pain-free.
Following these easy steps during the summer months can go a long way in keeping your feet looking and feeling their very best. Inspect your feet daily, and if you encounter any unusual foot problems or experience pain, contact our office for a thorough evaluation.
With age, many people experience changes in their feet. This may include a change in their shape, a loss of the fatty pads that cushion the bottom of the feet, thinner, drier skin, and brittle nails. You may even develop arthritis.
As the feet change, they naturally develop more problems. But aching feet are not a natural part of growing old, or something to be tolerated. You can do many things now to help relieve pain, improve comfort and keep the spring in your step.
Taking good care of your feet has many benefits, including increasing your comfort, limiting the possibility of additional health issues, and keeping you active and mobile. The following tips can help keep feet feeling and looking their best into the golden years:
- Choose proper-fitting shoes with adequate support, a firm sole and a soft upper for your everyday activities.
- Walk—it’s the best exercise for your feet.
- Avoid going barefoot.
- Never cut corns or calluses on your own.
- Bathe your feet daily in lukewarm water with a mild soap.
- Moisturize daily.
- Trim and file toenails straight across.
- Inspect your feet daily. If you notice redness, cracks in the skin or strange sores, consult our office.
- Have your feet examined at least once a year.
There are literally hundreds of different foot ailments. Some are inherited, but for older people most foot conditions stem from the impact of years of wear and tear. The good news is that even among people in their retirement years, many foot problems can be treated successfully.
Never ignore the natural changes that aging brings. Since feet are referred to as the “mirror of health,” podiatrists are often the first to identify signs of systemic diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. Regular visits can help prevent foot problems and alleviate pain to keep you active for life.
Looking for a safe, easy and inexpensive way to stay healthy, increase your energy level and improve your figure? Start walking! Walking is one of the easiest and most popular forms of exercise, and, when done properly, it can significantly improve your health.
The most basic kind of walking for exercise, often called healthwalking, can be done almost anywhere and at any time, year around. And for individuals with a long history of inactivity or problems with obesity, walking is an excellent way to begin an exercise program.
If the Shoe Fits - Get Walking!
Footwear plays a vital role in the duration of your walking routine, and shoes that don't fit properly or that lack support can lead to foot pain or injuries, such as blisters, corns, calluses, nail fungus and plantar fasciitis. These problems can, in turn, discourage you from exercising, thus achieving the opposite of what you wanted!
Not sure which shoe will offer you the most support? Come into our office for an examination. We can help determine the best shoe for your feet based on your arch, walking experience and foot mechanics. Your shoes should be well-cushioned and stable, offering you comfort and fit that enables you to walk smoothly and without discomfort.
Keep Your Feet Healthy
To gain the most health benefit from walking, it's important to pay close attention to your feet. Trim your nails regularly, keep your feet clean and dry, and inspect your feet for signs of sores, blisters, corns, calluses or other infections. Serious foot ailments, such as bunions or hammertoes, should be checked by our office before you begin your exercise regimen.
Once you're ready to hit the road, set appropriate goals based on your overall health and walking experience. Start slow and build up your distance gradually. And don't forget to stretch in order to prevent injury and keep muscles loose.
Walking is meant to be safe, easy, and fun, but in order to do so, you must have healthy feet. Experiencing foot pain and discomfort isn't normal. Talk with a podiatrist if you encounter any problems while walking.
Every step you take is one step closer to a healthier lifestyle. So what are you waiting for? Take a stroll in the mall, walk your dog in the park, or grab a friend and go for a leisurely walk around your neighborhood. It's easy and fun, and, when done regularly, can lead to a healthier you!
While high-heeled shoes may look stylish or complement your favorite outfit, they are rarely the best option for a woman's feet. According to a study by the American Podiatric Medical Association, 39 percent of women wear high heels every day; of the women who wear heels daily, three out of four reported foot problems. Despite these numbers, many women continue to underestimate the health risks associated with high heels.
High-heeled shoes disrupt the body's alignment, crowd the toes and force the body's weight onto the ball of the foot. Wearing heels can contribute to a variety of foot and ankle problems, including:
- Achilles tendonitis: The Achilles tendon and calf muscles tighten and shorten as the front of the foot moves down in relation to the heel. This causes stress and painful inflammation of the Achilles tendon.
- Bunion:. Narrow-toed shoes can cause a bony growth on the joint at the base of the big toe. The bunion forces the big toe to slant in toward the other toes, resulting in discomfort, blisters, corns and calluses.
- Hammertoes: A narrow toe box crowds the smaller toes into a bent, claw-like position at the middle joint.
- Metatarsalgia: Continued high heel wear can lead to joint pain in the ball of the foot as a result of heels forcing the body's weight to be redistributed.
- Ankle injuries: Because heels impair balance and increase the risk of falling, ankle sprains and fractures are common.
- Pump Bump: The rigid back of a pump-style shoe can cause pressure that irritates the heel bone, creating a bony enlargement known as Haglund's deformity.
- Neuromas: A narrow toe box and high heel can compress and create a thickening of tissue around a nerve between the third and fourth toes, leading to pain and numbness in the toes.
Still not willing to ditch the heels? There are ways to relieve some of the damaging effects of high heels.
- Avoid heels taller than 2 inches
- Choose thicker, more stable heels. Thicker heels are still stylish, plus they lessen the stress on your feet and provide better shock absorption.
- If you must wear heels, wear your gym shoes or flats for commuting and change into your heels once you arrive at your destination.
- Stretch and massage your calf, heel, and foot muscles. This helps relax the muscles and tendons and prevents them from tightening and shortening.
- Avoid shoes with pointed toes
- High heel shoes can cause pain and foot deformities that can last a lifetime. So the next time you go to slip on your heels for a long day at work or a night out, consider the consequences and rethink your options. If foot pain persists, visit us for treatment.
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