Cracked heels, also called “heel fissures,” are a fairly common foot condition. For many people they are merely a nuisance or a cosmetic problem, but if the cracks are deep, they can be painful when you’re on your feet. Cracked heels may also bleed.
Cracked heels generally are caused by dry skin (xerosis) and are more difficult to treat if the skin around the rim of the heel is thickened or callused. In severe cases, the cracks or fissures can become infected. According to the 2012 National Foot Health Assessment conducted by the NPD Group for the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, 20 percent of US adults ages 21 and older (about 44 million people) have experienced cracked skin on their feet. The problem is more severe among women, who report the condition at a rate more than 50 percent higher than men.