Cracked Heels & The Risks for Diabetics
Cracked heels are a common foot problem; 20% of adults in the US experience cracked skin on their feet. For most people, cracked heels are not a serious problem, and while they can cause discomfort and pain, they’re generally easy to heal. For diabetics, however, cracked heels can be much more dangerous.
Diabetes can mean double trouble for your feet. First, diabetes can reduce blood flow to your feet, depriving your feet of oxygen and nutrients. This makes it more difficult for blisters, sores, and cuts to heal. And second, the diabetic nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy can cause numbness in your feet. When you can’t feel cuts and blisters, you’re more likely to get sores and infections.
What are heel fissures?
Heel fissures are a common occurrence in all the population, but in diabetics they can cause serious problems if they are not dealt with effectively. Fissures are cracks or splits in the skin that often extend through to the inner layers of the skin. They are often painful when pressure is applied to the heel, as when standing. They can frequently bleed and once the fissure opens it is often difficult to get the two edges of the split to knit back together. This can then lead to a serious infection in the blood stream.
What causes heel fissures?
Fissures are a symptom of dry skin conditions. Dry skin can be caused by factors unrelated to diabetes including hot weather, inadequate skin care, and abrasive hosiery or sandals. However, diabetics often have drier skin than the rest of the population due to a loss of innervation, or nerve supply, to the sweat glands in the feet. Diabetics suffering from neuropathic damage may not immediately notice these fissures. If the fissures aren’t discovered until they are quite severe, they can become infected. If the infections go untreated for too long they can even necessitate amputation in extreme cases.
Heel Fissure Prevention
Prevention of foot fissure is important in patients with diabetes, as this pathology represents one of the risk factors for developing foot ulcer. Thus, as a diabetic it is very important to check your feet every day. Even if you are not experiencing any pain, checking your feet each day will help you spot a problem before it gets bad. Check every part of your foot, including between the toes. Use a mirror or ask for help if you can’t see every spot on your own. When inspecting your feet, look for cuts, sores, spots, swelling, blisters, warm spots, and any other abnormality. Wash your feet in warm water and then moisturize. A good moisturizing cream keeps the skin supple and thus helps prevent the formation of fissures. Work with the team at Corona Foot and Ankle to make a diabetes self-care plan, which is an action plan for how you will manage your diabetic foot care. This will involve daily self-checks in addition to scheduled podiatry visits.
If during a daily self-care inspection, you find a small crack on your heel, increase moisturizing. If there is no improvement over the next few days, or things start to get worse, contact a specialist. Foot fissures can be very dangerous for diabetics, don’t risk it. If in doubt, contact our expert podiatrists at Corona Foot and Ankle. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent additional complications.
Your feet are the foundation of your independence. Caring for your feet is caring for yourself. Take the time to keep them healthy every day, and be sure to schedule regular checkups with a podiatrist.
Contact us HERE to schedule a first-time visit and find out how we can help treat your podiatry problems.