Skin fissure: causes, treatments and how to cure (2023)

Skin fissures are tears in the skin that result from intense dryness and thickening of the skin. Fissures can be shallow or deep and can bleed or be painful.

Aside from being uncomfortable, fissures can be a precursor to skin ulcers. Therefore, it is important to treat skin tears before they get worse.

This article examines what causes skin tears, how doctors can treat them, and how people can support the healing process at home.

Skin tears are cracked patches of skin. They can appear anywhere on the body, but most commonly they appear:

  • at your fingertips
  • between the toes or fingers
  • on the heels of the feet
  • in other areas prone to dryness

Visible signs of skin tears are:

  • Breaks in the skin that look like cuts or tears
  • thick or calloused skin around the fissure
  • dry skin in the area
  • bleeding

Cracks in the skin can cause pain due to the cut in the skin. Also, irritants can get into the fissure and cause further discomfort.

Skin tears can be superficial or deep. Superficial tears are small tears that do not penetrate the deeper layers of the skin, while deep tears penetrate the deeper layers.

Pictures of skin tears

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Skin tears develop as part of a progression of symptoms:

  1. First, the skin becomes dry.
  2. It then thickens and may discolor.
  3. Small cracks form in the skin.
  4. Left untreated, these cracks can enlarge and become fissures.

A variety of underlying conditions can contribute, including the following.

nutritional deficiencies

The body relies on nutrients to maintain healthy skin. Inadequate food intake or nutrient supply can lead to skin disorders including cracking.

Examples of nutrients the body needs to maintain healthy skincontain:

  • Protein
  • fatty acids, likeOmega-3and omega 6
  • B complex vitamins such as B3, B6 andFolate
  • Vitamins A, C, D, E and K
  • minerals like zinc

When a person has nutritional deficiencies, the skin may lose moisture or take longer to heal from wounds.

dry skin conditions

skin diseases that causeinflammation, itching, and dryness can also make cracks more likely. These conditions include:

  • eczema
  • psoriasis
  • juvenile plantar dermatosis, in which the skin alternates between excessively wet and dry
  • Ceratodermie palmoplantar, a type of psoriasis that affects hands and feet

Treating or treating skin conditions can help reduce the risk of cracking. How the doctor and patient deal with it depends on the type and cause of the disease.

For example, if a person has eczema due to an allergen, avoiding the allergen or taking antihistamines may help. On the other hand, treatment for psoriasis may involve medication or phototherapy.

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Know the different types of eczema.

fungal infections

Skin fungal infections like athlete's foot can cause dry, scaly, or itchy rashes. Thecan increase the riskfor cracks and fissures in the skin.


According to a study, people with diabetes have a higher risk of cracking the skin on their feet.Study 2017.

People with diabetes are prone to nerve damage in their feet known as autonomic dysfunction.Neuropathy. This damage means nerves are less likely to feel the need for feet to sweat. Lack of sweating creates a very dry environment, which can lead to cracking of the skin.


OthersPossible CauseOne of the skin tears is angiopathy, which refers to damage to blood vessels, including veins and arteries.

Doctors don't know why angiopathy increases the risk of skin damage. However, if blood cannot reach certain areas of the skin, it can compromise skin health and delay wound healing.

In addition to certain medical causes, factors in a person's lifestyle or daily routine can aggravate dry skin and lead to cracking. These include:

  • dehydration:When a person often doesn't get enough water to replace the fluid they lose through sweating and urination, they can develop dry or cracked skin.
  • Frequent washing:Frequent washing of the skin can also reduce the moisture content. This is estimated in a 2020 study of more than 526 healthcare professionals38,8%reported skin tears due to excessive handwashing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Climate:Living in a dry, arid, or cold climate can also contribute to the development of cracks, especially in people who are prone to dry skin or have skin conditions like eczema.
  • Profession:In addition to jobs that require hand washing, other jobs can also cause or worsen dry skin. This includes jobs that involve handling irritating chemicals like hand sanitizer, working outdoors or standing for long periods - thisput under pressureon the heels.
  • Footwear:Open-toed or unsupportive shoes can play a role in cracked heels. These types of shoes do not cushion the area under the heel, which increases pressure on the surrounding skin.


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Treatment for skin tears may depend on how deep they are.

surface cracks

For superficial skin cracks, doctors may recommend a self-care regimen that encourages the healing of cracks and prevents new cracks from forming.

This can include:

  • Check your feet daily for new cracks and fissures.
  • Gently use a pumice stone to remove thick, tough skin.
  • Apply a moisturizer to keep skin supple and hydrated.
  • Use gel or spray dressings to protect the area.

People with athlete's foot or another fungal infection may also need an antifungal cream, which is available over the counter.

As long as there are open cracks, a suitable moisturizer should be used2-3 times a day.

A good moisturizer for areas of dry, cracked skin may contain several active ingredients, such as:

  • Humectants that add moisture to the skin
  • Salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acid which removes dead skin cells
  • Urea that moisturizes and exfoliates

deeper cracks

For deeper skin tears, doctors may use:

  • Debridement, in which a doctor carefully removes dead skin cells
  • prescription skin softeners or debriding agents
  • Skin adhesives that hold tears together while they heal
  • Straps, bandages or bandages
  • Antibioticsthat a doctor may prescribe if a fissure gets infected

If a person has cracked heels, supportive inserts or heel pads may be needed to reduce pressure on the skin.

If the fissures occur frequently, recur, or don't heal on their own, the doctor can investigate whether an underlying health condition could be the cause.

Home care and prevention

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Do not try to forcefully remove dry or thick skin at home - only a qualified professional should do this. However, there are some things people can do at home to help fissure healing. These include:

  • Keep skin clean and hydrated
  • Exfoliate areas with calloused skin, such as B. the heels, gently off
  • Protecting skin from things that make dryness worse, like unnecessary exposure to water, heat, friction or irritants
  • If you have a cracked heel, avoid standing or walking for long periods of time and wear supportive shoes or shoe inserts
  • Managing underlying conditions like diabetes with medications or lifestyle changes

In general, people can also follow these measures:

  • drink plenty of water every day to keep your urine a pale yellow color
  • a balanced diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein
  • Wear clean clothes, socks and shoes made of breathable materials
  • Wearing sandals or flip flops in public pools or showers as this reduces the chance of developing athlete's foot
  • Use a humidifier when the dry air could be contributing to dry skin

A person should see a doctor if the skin tears worsen or don't respond to home treatments. Early treatment can prevent the cracks from developing into skin ulcers, which are significantly more difficult to treat.

People should also speak to a doctor if they experience:

  • Pain when walking or standing
  • frequent bleeding
  • Swelling,pus, or the affected area feels warm

Fissures are tears in the skin that usually appear in areas that become dry, thick, or calloused, such as the B. on the heels. Many factors can cause them.

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It's important to treat breakouts right away. Deep cracks can develop infection or lead to ulcers. A doctor can provide bandages, ointments, and moisturizers to help the fissures heal.


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