Cracked Heels (fissures)

What are fissures?  Heel fissures is the medical term used for dry skin based on the heels of the feet that has become so thick and dense through pressure and lack of moisture the skin has torn into what looks like tiny valleys in the skin.

Symptoms:  *Dry skin *Itchy or Flaky skin *Valley like cracks on the ridge of your heels *Bleeding

You may just experience dry skin on the heels of your feet that do not cause any problems. It may be that it just looks unsightly to the eye. In more severe cases the dry skin may have cracked deep into the dermis layer of the skin causing significant pain when walking. This could cause bleeding and discharge which could lead to infection.

Treatment:  If you have a mild case of cracked heels (fissures) you need to exfoliate and apply moisturiser daily preferably a moisturiser that has Urea in it. Otherwise if the case is problematic you would need to seek advice from a Foot Health Practitioner to receive treatment that will reduce the build-up of dry skin by debriding (scalpel) it which is a painless and effective way of removing the excess hard skin.

Prevention:  To prevent dry skin on the heels of your feet occurring you need to keep your feet clean and dry, moisturised, avoid walking around barefooted too often and take vitamins.

Corns(heloma durum, heloma molle, heloma mille)

What is a corn?  A corn is a small area of hardened skin that becomes very painful and develops over bony parts of your feet. Corns are usually caused by ill-fitting shoes, constant pressure and friction. The skin thickens as a defence mechanism from trauma and begins to form into a cone (the size of a pea) like shape burying its way down into the skin creating much discomfort when you bare any weight on it. Corns are not infectious.

Symptoms:  *Hard small lump with a clear centre *Soft lumps of skin between the toes *Pain when you bare weight on the affected area

Hard corns are the most common type of corn and you will find them over prominent bony parts of your feet (toe joints or the metatarsal joints). Soft corns are found between the toes and are white, soft and moist due to the living conditions of where they are located.

There are other corns including seed corns (tiny and usually painless or clustered). Neuro or vascular corns which have blood vessels and nerves in them so are painful and can bleed when treated. Fibrous corns which have been there a long time with no treatment and have attached themselves to the deeper layers of your skin.

Treatment:  If corns are left untreated the skin can begin to break down creating an open wound (ulcer). Never cut a corn out yourself! A Foot Health Practitioner can easily remove a corn by debriding (using a scalpel) which is a painless, effective treatment and often completely relieves your pain.

Prevention:  To prevent corns from coming back the essential footwear must be worn for example: low heeled, wide fitting, rounded toe, supportive shoes.


What is a Verruca?  The medical term for a verruca on the sole of the foot is called a Plantar Wart also known as HPV (human papillomavirus).

Symptoms:  *Raised hard growth on the skin *Rough surface *Cauliflower like appearance *Tiny dark spots in the centre

Verruca’s may become painful or uncomfortable if left untreated.

Treatment:  Verruca’s are usually harmless and if they are not causing you any pain or discomfort they usually go away on their own though this could take a few weeks to a couple of years if left untreated. However, due to their contagiousness the verruca must at all times be covered with a local waterproof cream/gel which can be bought from the Pharmacy or with a sock or plaster to avoid the virus spreading. Many of the remedies contain a substance called salicylic acid such as (Bazuka Gel) and work slowly taking up to 3 months.

If you have many verrucas or you have a verruca that is causing severe pain then a visit to your local Doctor is advised as Cryotherapy (freezing of the verruca) can be administered or surgery.

Prevention:  Verrucas (HPV) are usually spread from contact to contact of skin or contaminated surfaces such as swimming pools etc. Make sure you always wear something on your feet like flipflops or a verruca sock if you swim and attend communal showers regularly. Do not share socks or towels and do not pick or scratch at the verruca.

Fungal Toenail Infection

What is a fungal toenail infection?  A Fungal Toenail infection can be spread if you have suffered with Athletes Foot (Tinea Pedis). Athletes Foot is a fungal infection of the skin in-between the toes and may spread to the toenails if it is not treated. You can get a fungal toenail infection if you have damaged or had any trauma to the toenail as this makes it easier to catch infections. You have a higher risk of getting a fungal toenail infection if you have diabetes, psoriasis, poor immune system, poor circulation or sometimes it can just occur. Nail infections are very common.

Symptoms: *Toenail has come away from the nail bed *White or yellow patches and discoloured *Nail becomes soft/crumbles/brittle

If left untreated the nail may destroy the nail and the nail bed and become painful.

Treatment:  If the nail infection is mild and not causing any discomforts then some patients choose not to have any treatment. Treatment is not 100% guaranteed and may not restore the nails natural appearance fully. However, treatment is advised if the nail is causing discomfort or looks unsightly to the patient therefore causing distress. Fungal Nail treatments may take several months to fully grow out (though not guaranteed) but with regular treatment and regular trimming of the nails it should get better over time. If the fungal toenail infection is a severe case then medication (antifungal tablets) from your local Doctor may be needed.

Prevention: To help prevent the return of a fungal nail infection is to always treat Athletes Foot as soon as possible to stop the chances of the fungi spreading to the toenails.