When the skin on your heels dries out, it can start cracking. Dry, cracked heels can make it painful to walk or stand, and they can also start bleeding if the cracks are deep enough. People with diabetes are more prone to developing cracked heels because the skin on their feet doesn't produce as much oil or sweat. If you have diabetes, it's important to take care of your heels to stop them from becoming cracked and painful. To learn why people with diabetes are more prone to getting dry, cracked heels and how you can prevent them, read on.
Why Are People With Diabetes More Likely To Get Dry, Cracked Heels?
One common complication of diabetes is peripheral neuropathy, which refers to nerve damage in your extremities like your hands and feet. Peripheral neuropathy is most often associated with feeling pain or numbness along with periodic tingling and burning sensations.
Peripheral neuropathy causes an additional effect that isn't as well known. The sweat glands and sebaceous glands (which produce oil that keeps your skin moist) in your skin are controlled by your nerves. When your nerves become damaged, your sweat glands and sebaceous glands don't produce as much sweat and oil as they need to. As a result, the skin on your heels becomes extremely dry and more likely to crack.
How Can You Stop Your Heels From Becoming Dry and Cracked?
To stop your heels from drying out, you should apply moisturizer to the bottom of your feet every day, and you should wear socks after applying it to keep the moisturizer against your skin. Moisturizing your heels helps to compensate for the low natural production of sweat and oil in the skin on your feet.
You should also wear shoes that have excellent heel padding. Wearing sandals or walking barefoot makes your heels more likely to crack. The padding helps distribute weight evenly across your heels while you stand or walk, which helps prevent them from cracking. If you're especially prone to dry, cracked heels, you can purchase orthotic inserts that provide extra padding and elevate your heel. This helps shift weight towards the rest of your foot and off of your heel, which further decreases the likelihood that they'll crack.
If you already have very deep cracks in your heels, you should schedule an appointment with a podiatrist who provides diabetic foot care. A podiatrist can debride your heels with a scalpel and sander, removing all of the dry, cracked skin. Moisturizing your heels and wearing comfortable shoes after your heel debridement will help stop your heels from becoming dry and cracked again.
In short, people with diabetes are more prone to dry skin on their heels because the skin there doesn't make much sweat and oil due to nerve damage. Moisturizing your heels daily will help stop them from becoming too dry, and wearing shoes with good heel support will make your heels less likely to crack. If the skin on your heels keeps cracking even though you're moisturizing it daily, schedule an appointment with a provider like Advanced Podiatry and Wound Care and ask about inserts you can use to keep weight off of your heels.