Cracks in the skin around the heel can be both embarrassing and painful. This problem is caused by the thick or dry skin, on and around the edges of the heels. The skin on your feet is usually more dry and dehydrated than the skin elsewhere on the rest of the body probably because there are no oil glands in the thicker skin on the soles of the feet. Because of this, the skin around the heels may lose suppleness and elasticity due to that lack of moisture. Due to the pressures of walking, that dry skin can start to split and it can lead to unsightly, painful cracked heels that can sometimes bleed. There are a number of factors that increase the risk for this including higher pressure, increased weight, inappropriate footwear (especially shoes that are open at the back), genetics, unhygienic conditions and poor footcare, and nutritional deficiencies.
To prevent cracked heels, always try to wear well fitted enclosed shoes that allow your feet to breathe and avoid shoes that are open at the back. It is important to stay well hydrated by drinking at least two litres of water per day as that can help. Exfoliate the skin regularly and moisturise daily with a good cream. If the cracks are more severe, this probably should be done twice a day initially. There are some suggestions that omega 3 and zinc supplements may help (but they do need to be used with the other treatments and not in isolation). It would also help to avoid excessive exposure of the feet to water or damp conditions. It is important that you wash your feet with warm water instead of very hot water. If these types of approaches do not help, then see a skilled podiatrist. They will remove the thicker callused skin and give further advice on how to self manage.