Cracked heels are also known as heel fissures. These are regular, linear cut wounds around the edge of the heel. Most of the time they don't get very deep and remain in the epidermis. Occasionally, the crack deeper into the dermis and become very painful and open to infection. As the skin dries, the feet expand and cracks appear. The most common areas for these cracks are along the rim of the heel and in between the toes.
Symptoms may include red or flaky patches of skin on the feet and on the heels in particular, peeling and cracked skin, itchy skin and bleeding or a discharge from the cracks. When the cracks get deep enough, they may be extremely painful and may be prone to infection.
Cracked heels may be caused by dry skin or callus, prolonged standing on hard surfaces, being overweight (this increases the pressure on the foot pad), and wearing shoes that allow the cushioning in the heel to expand sideways. It can also be caused by athlete's foot, psoriasis, eczema, diabetes, thyroid disease or other skin conditions. The following reasons may put you at a higher risk for developing cracked heels: your age, poorly fitting shoes, unhygienic conditions, unhealthy skin and nutritional deficiencies. For extra thick skin, you may need to use a pumice or other method of removing extra layers. Moisturizing daily can also help.
If you notice a cracked heel bleeding or having any type of discharge, or if it is painful, see your doctor. Any of these signs can mean you are open for infection. Fungal infections are also a possibility, so if you are noticing worsening symptoms get it checked by a medical professional.
Essential oils that help to soften the skin and can be used in massage or bath though a carrier oil include chamomile, cypress, frankincense, geranium, lavender, lemon, neroli, myrrh, peppermint, sandalwood and tea tree.