Cracked heels are a common foot problem, resulting from callused, dry skin. Also referred to as fissures, depending on the severity of the problem, heel cracks can lead to bleeding feet and cause extreme pain. Symptoms of cracked heels include dark, yellowing skin on the heel of the foot; callused, hard skin growth; flaky patches; and cracked and peeling skin.
Standing for prolonged periods of time, specifically on hard floors, can lead to fissures on the feet. Constant friction and pressure may eventually lead to cracks and open sores which can bleed and cause pain. If you must stand for long periods of time, make sure you wear sensible footwear with adequate cushioning.
Thin-soled shoes that expose the heel of the foot are among the leading causes of cracked heels. According to ePodiatry.com, wearing open-heeled shoes causes the heel of the foot to expand, in turn putting extra pressure on it and making it more susceptible to cracking. Avoid wearing of open-heeled and thin-soled shoes too frequently. Moreover, ill-fitting shoes can also leave you vulnerable to cracked, sore, bleeding heels. Always buy shoes with the proper fit for your foot type to give your feet room to breathe.
If you are overweight, the simple act of standing can put extra pressure on your feet. EPodiatry.com reports that this "increases the pressure on the normal fat pad under the heel, causing it to expand sideways -- if the skin is not supple and flexible, the pressures to 'crack' are high." Invest in a good pair of shoes to prevent putting too much pressure on your feet, and wear heel pads or heel cups to prevent the heels from expanding sideways.
Medical conditions such as diabetes and an underactive thyroid contribute to inactive sweat glands, leading to dry skin, thus making you more susceptible to foot fissures and cracked heels. Other factors contributing to problematic heels include flat feet, athlete's foot and heel spurs. Skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema may also cause cracked heels and feet. Apply moisturizing cream to help provide moisture and alleviate excessive dryness of the skin.