Your Good Health: Dry skin often the cause of cracked skin on heels

dr_keith_roach_with_bkg.jpgDear Dr. Roach: I am a 76-year-old male in excellent health. The skin on my heels tends to be dry and callous, and at times develops cracks that can become surprisingly painful and take time to heal. I’ve tried applying Vaseline or Aquaphor as a preventive measure with some success, but the cracks still occur. Could there be bacteria or fungi involved?

R.L.

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Many people experience cracking in the skin of the heel. Dry skin is the most common cause, and proper footwear, regular moisturizing and avoiding excess washing with harsh soaps and hot water all may help. If the problem continues, it is more likely an inflammatory condition like eczema than it is a fungal or bacterial infection. Making the proper diagnosis will help guide treatment, which may include steroid ointments or even glue to repair the cracking. A podiatrist or dermatologist would be a good first stop.

Dear Dr. Roach: My 80-year-old wife recently began to have tremors in her left leg while walking with her walker. After looking at MRIs of her back, her orthopedic doctor said everything looked OK and recommended she see a neurologist. Can a neurologist help?

B.R.

Tremor in one body area should indeed be evaluated by a neurologist. The list of possibilities is too long to summarize, but knowing that the tremor is restricted to one leg and only occurs with movement will help the neurologist start to narrow down the possibilities.

Once she has a diagnosis, then the neurologist can discuss the options for treatment.

Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu

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