Heel fissures are cracks in the smoothness of the skin overlying the heel. They may be found anywhere on the heel. The cracks are usually accompanied by skin that is hardened or dry. Sometimes the skin may become flaky. The deeper the heel fissures, the more painful they are. Some heel fissures may bleed. Cause Skin normally secretes its own lubricating oils, but this does not happen in those with heel fissures. Inactive sweat glands may result because of peripheral neuropathy, as what is seen in those with diabetes. Obesity may also be related to the development of heel fissures although no one knows why this correlation exists. It’s possible that the heels cracking may be related to a deficiency of omega 3 fats or other essential fats, which may occur more easily in obese individuals. A hot, dry climate may contribute to the development of heel fissures; however, if this was the only cause, then everyone who lived in a hot, dry climate would have heel fissures, and this is not true. Thus there are most likely other factors contributing to the development of the fissures. Most likely, nutrition plays an important role and needs to be investigated further. Walking barefoot for a majority of the time is also related to the development of heel fissures, as seen in cultures in underdeveloped nations where the people walk barefoot. Treatment & Prevention The danger of heel fissures is that the open areas of the skin are susceptible to the entrance of bacteria and fungi which cause infections. Keeping the area moisturized is a big key to the successful treatment of heel fissures. But what type of moisturizer would you use? Medicated moisturizers may be recommended by medical practitioners. Natural health enthusiasts rave about the healing power of essential oils for smoothing the skin of heel fissures. Some recommend using a pumice stone to file down the scratchy skin, but this may also spread infection if an infection is starting. Shoes should be fully supportive of the foot and the heel. Sandals are not recommended for those with heel fissures because they are generally unsupportive to the foot and also expose the fissures to bacterial contamination. For foot pain support, consider a sensitive foot insole or soft ¾ length comfort gel insoles.