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Splits in skin (Fissures)

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What is a fissure?

Fissures on the feet can be extremely painful. Splits usually form either around the heels or between the toes and can often be accompanied with other skin problems such as Athletes foot or Chilblains.

Some splits are due to friction or stress through the skin from wearing certain footwear such as flip flops, but if your skin is very dry you can be more at risk. Also warmer climates such as when on holiday (which often means wearing things like flip flops too) can make the skin more vulnerable.

How can I help myself?

Often splits can be hard to see yourself, so why not ask a family member, or use a mirror to help check your feet. There can sometimes be dry blood around the splits and ridges if hard skin can form. There is also a risk of developing bacterial or fungal infections due to the opening in the skin.

Sometimes salt water bathing, and if possible very gentle filing of the hard skin around the splits can help, but then allow the feet to dry off in the air for an hour and then liberally apply a moisturiser rich in urea, ideally 25% urea. If splits are bad, self care is not advised, but moisturiser may help whilst you are waiting to see a Podiatrist. Do not moisturise if the skin is open or weeping, instead cover with a sterile dressing and see a podiatrist or another health professional as soon as possible.

When to see a Podiatrist?

A podiatrist will probably use a scalpel blade to very gently remove the hard skin around the mouth of the split which may prevent it healing. The splits may need dressing too. Once a little more under control, usually intensive moisturiser will finish the job, but it is important you keep up with the moisturiser to try and prevent this reoccurrence.

A podiatrist will also be able to tell you if you have any associated athletes foot or other issues and how to manage.

Splits in skin (Fissures)