One of the most common complaints we see as Podiatrists is heels splittng and cracking. During the warmer weather particularly, we are more prone to cracked heels. These can be painful and sometimes bleed. The most common causes are footwear (open backed shoes) and excess weight. The fatty pad of your heel also expands sideways in an open-baked shoe which, if the skin is dry, can lead to the heels splitting and cracking.

tomato skin

Think of it this way… Think of your heel as a tomato in the kitchen. Push it from above, what happens? It wants to expand out sideways and eventually the skin of the tomato begins to crack and split. This is exactly what happens to your heel as your weight pushes down, the heel pad wants to spread out sideways and the pressure on the skin to crack is increased.

Now imagine the skin of that tomato is dry, the skin is much more likely to splitting and cracking than a ripe tomato. The same can be said for your feet – if you have dry skin or heavy callus around the heel then when weight is applied the skin is much more likely to tear and split. If more weight is added then the same principle will happen but on a much quicker timescale.


Our top tips for treating splitting and cracking heels:

  • Address the cause (excess weight, incorrect footwear, dry skin, callus)
  • Remove the hard skin with an abrasive diamond deb foot file once a week when the skin is dry (ie before a bath)
  • Apply a moisturiser such as flexitol twice a day
  • If the problem persists or is unable to control the amount of callus or depth of splits you may need to visit a podiatrist who can remove the hard skin and any painful splits and prevent them from getting worse.
  • It may be beneficial to consider some bespoke insoles from a podiatrist to alter the way you walk to prevent build up of callus in the future.

I hope this helps and gets those feet looking better and feeling better after being in sandals all summer! Please do contact us or a HCPC registered podiatrist if you have painful cracks and splits as we can help remove these making them easier to manage.

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