Health and Fitness

What can be done with cracks around the heel?

The cracked skin that you may get around the edges the heels may be a painful condition if it is allowed to develop. This condition happens when the skin around the backs of the heel is dryer and thicker than it should normally be. As the callus builds up to make that dry thicker skin, it just splits since it is not very supple or flexible. The crack that happens in the thicker skin, then tries to split or rip the good skin below it. In the worst cases, this becomes painful, could bleed and become an for an infection, so does need to be taken seriously. The explanation for these cracked heels is not completely clear. Some individuals simply tend to have a dryer skin and some people, because of the way which they walk tend to build up the callus around the periphery of the heel. Being overweight can be another risk factor for cracked heels. Shoes that are open at the back are also believed to play a role in this disorder.

The ideal way to take care of the cracked heels is to get an experienced podiatrist to remove the thicker hard skin and then use an emollient to soften the remaining skin. You could try and get rid of that skin yourself with something such as a pumice stone or file, but that is a lot of work and needs to be done a lot. The emollient lotion used after this needs to be applied on a regular basis to keep the skin well hydrated and supple. There is a lot of opinion of what's the ideal lotion or emollient to use is and the best answer is the one which matches your skin. Some trial and error may be needed to get the best one. For cracked heels most podiatrists would advocate starting with a urea based ointment.

Health and Fitness

How to treat heel fat pad atrophy?

Heel pain is common and there are many different causes of that. Plantar fasciitis is by far the most common problem and is often easy to diagnose. However, there are plenty of other causes that are not as common and are harder to diagnose. One of the less common causes is a condition known as heel fat pad atrophy. There is a layer of fat under the heel that acts as a cushion and shock absorber when we are walking or running. Normally there is enough fat there to provide that protection, but in some people it atrophies or wastes away and it can no longer protect the heel with that cushioning. The reason why it happens is not entirely clear, but there is some atrophy of that fat pad with aging and some just seem to atrophy more than others at a faster rate. The main symptoms of this problem are increasing pain with weight bearing under the heel. It is also important to rule out other causes as they may exist at the same time.

The main way to treat  heel pad atrophy is to replace the fat that has wasted away. The easiest way is to wear pads in the shoe under the heel, preferably made of a silicone gel that has the same consistency as the natural fat, as they technically replace the pad that is missing. This typically deals with almost all cases of this and this is all that needs to be done. The only problem with this approach is that you have to wear the pads and you can’t do that when barefoot or in sandals very easily. The only other option is a surgical procedure called augmentation in which some fat is surgically implanted under the heel. The injected fat may come from another part of the body or may be artificially created in the laboratory. The long term results of this type of approach are not yet known, but early results from the procedure appear good.