Skin fissures can be painful and unsightly. Learn what causes these deep splits in the skin and what you can do to treat and prevent them.

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Skin Fissures: Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

08/02/20238 min read

If you’ve ever experienced skin fissures, you know how painful and uncomfortable they can be. Fortunately, several treatment options are available to help you heal these deep cracks. And there are things you can do to minimize your chances of getting another one.

But before we get into that, let’s define what a skin fissure is and discuss what causes them to form in the first place.

Table Of Contents

What Is A Skin Fissure?

Man with skin fissures on his hands

A skin fissure is basically a crack on your body. It can be deep or shallow, depending on the extent of the damage.

Some people refer to these fissures as cracked skin. If one forms on your lip, you might hear it called a split lip.

Skin Fissure Symptoms

No matter what you call them, skin fissures hurt. The pain may intensify at night when you don’t have as much to take your mind off it.

You may also feel it more when using the affected body part. For example, if there’s a fissure on your foot, you’ll likely have sharper pain when walking or standing compared to when you’re sitting.

In addition to pain, you may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Redness and swelling in the area
  • Skin discoloration (often yellow or brown)
  • Bleeding
  • Pus leaking
  • Itchiness in the affected region
  • Extremely dry skin
  • Rough or thickened skin

Of course, if a skin fissure is just starting to develop, you won’t notice all of these symptoms, but they could manifest as your injury worsens. If left untreated long enough, your fissure could even become infected.

Where You’ll Notice These Cracks

While your skin can crack anywhere on your body, fissures typically occur in areas that experience a lot of friction, such as your:

They can also form between your fingers and toes or on the backside of your knees.

What Causes Skin Fissures?

Child with dry, split lips

Fissures can be caused by several things, including dry skin, underlying skin conditions, and fungal infections. Let’s look more closely at these and other common causes.

Dry Skin

Healthy skin is comprised of 64% water. Your skin needs moisture to stay soft and supple. If it gets too dry, fissures can develop.

However, you’ll likely notice other signs of dryness before your skin starts cracking. These include:

  • Redness and itching
  • Flaking or peeling
  • Rough patches
  • Tightness in the area

If you treat your dry skin at this point, cracks may not develop. But fissures could appear if you ignore the problem or continue exposing your skin to whatever is drying it out.

Underlying Skin Conditions

Underlying skin conditions can also contribute to fissures. For instance, eczema (atopic dermatitis), psoriasis, and dermatitis can all cause excessive dryness.

Plus, these conditions also make your skin itchy. And if you scratch dehydrated skin too much, it can lead to cracking.

Fungal Infections

Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection that can lead to cracks. It also causes the skin on your feet to become itchy and feel like it’s burning.

You may contract this condition in public spaces like locker rooms or shared showers. That’s why health experts recommend wearing sandals in such places.

Frequent Washing

Washing your hands is important; it helps prevent the spread of diseases and keeps you healthy. But you risk drying out your skin every time you wash.

That’s because harsh soaps and hot water can strip away your body’s natural oils. And since these oils retain moisture, your skin is more likely to crack after they’ve been depleted.

Extreme Temperatures

What’s the weather like where you live? If you frequently experience extreme temperatures, it can cause your skin to dry out and, eventually, crack.

If the air is dry, it can also take a toll on your skin. Less humid air simply doesn’t have the moisture content your body needs to thrive.

How To Treat Skin Fissures

Woman applying moisturizer to skin fissures on her heels

Now that you know what causes fissures to form, let’s discuss a few treatment methods to help close the cracks and repair the damage.


Since your skin is so dry, a normal lotion may not penetrate deep enough to provide relief. You’ll want a thicker cream or ointment to help lock in moisture and keep the area hydrated for longer.

But the right moisturizer can blast away dryness and help restore your skin's natural oils. Look for a product with hydrating ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and colloidal oatmeal.

Once you find the right product, it’s imperative to use it consistently. You’ll want to moisturize the fissure at least twice a day.

However, some body parts need more frequent attention. For example, you’ll want to moisturize your hands every time you wash.

Use Wet Wraps

Wet wrap therapy can help restore your skin’s natural moisture. To try this treatment, you’ll need some cloth bandages or dressings.

Use warm water to get one bandage damp, and wrap the bandage around your skin fissure carefully. Then, cover it with a dry one.

Ideally, you’ll leave the wet wrap on overnight. However, as long as you keep it on for several hours, you should notice a difference.

Treat Underlying Conditions

If you’re dealing with eczema, psoriasis, or another drying condition, you may not find complete relief from your fissures until you treat the underlying issue. To do this, look for products designed for your specific skin concern.

For example, Bodewell Eczema Daily Calming Cream can help relieve your eczema symptoms. Its unique formula provides deep hydration and moisturization to help strengthen your skin’s natural barrier. It’s also available in a small travel size for convenient relief on the go.

Consider Medical Options

If at-home treatment options aren’t healing your fissures, it may be time to consult a professional. They can examine the cracks and provide a personalized course of treatment that includes skin glue, prescription strength medication, or debridement.

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Skin Glue

Don’t worry. The doctor isn’t going to pull out a bottle of white school glue and start dabbing it on your skin. They’ll use a specially formulated skin adhesive instead.

This adhesive is a liquid substance that hardens as it dries, forming a protective coating over the area. It’ll keep dirt, bacteria, and other irritants from entering the fissure, reducing your chances of infection.

Prescription Strength Medication

Over-the-counter creams and ointments may not be strong enough. As such, your doctor may prescribe something more powerful, such as a steroid cream or a hydrating antibiotic ointment.

These medications can heal your fissure, soften the skin, and help prevent infection. But be sure to follow your doctor’s orders when using them.


Doctor performing a debridement procedure on skin fissures

In some cases, your doctor might recommend a debridement. This process involves trimming away dead or damaged skin cells to reduce pain and promote healing. However, this is typically saved for when all other treatment options have failed.

When performing a sharp debridement, your doctor will use a scalpel or another tool to shave the dead skin away. They may give you pain medication or a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable.

Other types of debridement include mechanical, autolytic, and enzymatic. Talk to your doctor to see which method might work best for you.

Preventing Skin Fissures

Once your skin fissure heals, the last thing you want is to get another one! To prevent them from happening again, here are a few action steps you can take:

  • Avoid activities that can lead to dry skin, such as taking hot showers or using harsh chemicals
  • Wear gloves when washing dishes or using cleaning products
  • Implement a skincare routine designed for dry skin (and remember to moisturize!)
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Keep the area clean and try
  • Watch for symptoms of dry skin and begin treating it as soon as possible
  • Protect yourself from harsh weather conditions
  • Use a humidifier in your home to keep the air moist
  • Gently exfoliate any calluses that develop
  • Wear supportive shoes with heel cushions
  • Check your skin regularly for new cracks, so you can treat them before they deepen

Journey Toward Softer Skin With Bodewell

Woman putting a small bottle of Eczema Daily Calming Cream in her purse

Skin fissures can be painful and inconvenient, but they’re treatable. And with proper care and attention, you may be able to prevent new ones from developing.

If eczema plays a role in your skin fissures, Bodewell can help. Our Eczema Daily Calming Cream is specially designed to help soothe and soften eczema-prone skin over time. It’s packed with moisturizing ingredients and won’t leave you feeling greasy.

So get on the road to smoother skin with Bodwell. Your future self will thank you!


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Eczema Association
National Library of Medicine
United States Geological Survey

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