The heels of your feet take a lot of punishment when you walk and run, which can lead to the formation of heel fissures. These cracks in the skin of your heel can be both unsightly and painful, especially if you have deep fissures that start to bleed. However, heel fissures can be particularly problematic for people who suffer from diabetes.
Are Diabetic People More Likely To Develop Heel Fissures?
Heel fissures are caused by a combination of physical stress, which damages the skin on your heels, and skin dryness, which makes the skin less elastic and more likely to crack instead of stretch. Anybody can suffer from heel fissures if the skin on their heels becomes too dry and damaged, but diabetic people are more likely to suffer from heel fissures.
Many people with diabetes suffer from nerve damage in their extremities, especially in the hands and feet. When certain nerves in the feet are damaged, they lose the ability to sense temperature, which prevents your feet from sweating when they get too hot. Lack of sweat can cause the skin on your heels to become very dry, making fissures more likely to form.
Foot nerve damage caused by diabetes also undermines the body's ability to heal foot injuries. If you have diabetes and suffer from heel fissures, your fissures may heal more slowly and incompletely. This can cause the fissures to get worse over time, causing bleeding and ulceration. Open heel fissures that don't heal quickly also leave you vulnerable to dangerous infections.
How Can Podiatrists Treat Heel Fissures In Diabetic People?
If you suffer from diabetes and have noticed fissures on one or both of your feet, you should visit a podiatrist as soon as possible to have the fissures inspected and, if necessary, treated. Early treatment will prevent the fissures from getting any worse, and minimize the risk of complications.
If your heel fissures are relatively mild, podiatrists can offer conservative treatments. Exfoliating treatments can be used to remove dry, hardened skin and allow the fissures to heal naturally.
Moisturizing your heels (if they are not bleeding) will also help to restore the skin's elasticity, helping fissures heal more quickly. Podiatrists can supply you with prescription-strength moisturizing lotions containing urea, salicylic acid, and other powerful moisturizing agents.
If your fissures are more severe or have started to bleed, your podiatrist will make sure the fissures are clean and disinfected. The damaged heel(s) will then be dressed, and the podiatrist may apply strong tape to keep the fissure closed and promote healing. You may need to visit your podiatrist regularly to have the heels retaped and redressed until they heal.
Podiatrists can also craft orthotic inserts and heel cups, which should be inserted into your footwear whenever you are on your feet for a significant amount of time. These inserts are crafted individually to match the contours of your feet and will help to cushion and protect the damaged heel(s). They will help fissures heal, and are very useful for long-term fissure prevention.
Contact your podiatrist to learn more.