Dry, rough, or cracked skin on the feet is common. The feet have fewer sebum glands than other parts of the body and are worn out every day. People can soothe dry skin on their feet with simple home remedies.
Dry skin often occurs on the heels and sides of the feet and between the toes. This can lead to itching, tension, and even pain in the affected area. Although it can be irritating, it is rarely harmful.
Simple foot baths, moisturizers, and regular peels can reduce dry feet, remove dead skin and calluses, and prevent them from returning.
In this article, we discuss the causes and treatment of dry, cracked, or flaky skin on the feet.
The following daily factors can lead to dry skin on the feet:
- Lack of moisture. Dry, cracked, and flaky skin is particularly common on the heel and sole, as these areas have fewer sebaceous glands than the skin on other parts of the body.
- The irritation If you stand too long or wear shoes that are not doing well, this can put constant pressure on specific areas of the feet or cause friction on the skin. As a result, these areas of the feet can become dry, calloused, or cracked.
- Heat and moisture. Closed shoes like sneakers and boots create a scorching and humid environment for the feet. Heat and moisture wick moisture away from the skin, which can lead to dry, thick, or cracked areas on the feet.
- Soaps and body soaps that contain aggressive or irritating chemicals can remove moisture from the skin. If you don’t wash the excess soap off your feet, these problems can also occur.
- Aging Over time, the skin loses its ability to retain water and becomes thinner and less thick. Older people may suffer more from dry skin due to the natural aging process.
- Medications Certain medications, including diuretics, can dry out the skin of the feet.
Dry skin on the feet can also occur as a result of an illness, such as
- Athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that causes a scaly rash between the toes and under the foot.
- Eczema Eczema is a group of diseases that cause skin inflammation. People can develop eczema on any part of their body. Common symptoms of eczema are dry, crispy, or itchy spots on the skin.
- Psoriasis Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes thick, scaly patches on the skin. Humans can develop psoriasis plaques on almost any part of the body, including the feet.
- Hypothyroidism People with hypothyroidism can develop dehydrated feet because their thyroid glands cannot regulate the sweat glands in the feet, which can cause them to dry out.
- Diabetes. Living with uncontrolled diabetes can damage peripheral nerves, which is known as neuropathy. Neuropathy can affect the nerves that regulate the oil and moisture in the feet, which can cause the feet to dry out or tear.
Treatments and remedies
Dead cells on the surface of the skin fall naturally, and new cells take their place. If a person does not remove the accumulation of dead skin cells, thick, scaly patches can form on the feet.
Over time, dry areas can become thick or cracked, especially on the heels. Broken heels make your feet susceptible to infection, while thick calluses can make walking difficult or uncomfortable.
In the next section, we’ll discuss five of the best ways to treat dry skin and remove dead skin from your feet.
1. Soak the foot
Soaking your feet in warm water soothes and softens dry skin while improving blood flow to your feet, which can help prevent dry skin in the future.
Adding a small amount of vinegar to soak the feet can help treat mild forms of athlete’s foot. Vinegar has potent antimicrobial properties that can help disinfect your feet and even eliminate foot odor.
Here are other useful ingredients to add to a foot bath:
- Epsom salt
- Lemon juice
- peppermint essential oil
The Exfoliate consists of removing dead skin from the upper layer using a physical or chemical peeling.
Physical peels include:
- Foot scrubs
- Body brushes
- electronic stain remover
People can buy foot scrubs or make them at home by mixing honey, hot water, and sugar.
Chemical peels are in the form of lotions or first liquids. They contain ingredients such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid, which dissolve dead cells on the surface of the skin.
Foot scrubs are popular chemical peels that manufacturers have developed specifically for the feet. Some foot scrubs contain artificial fragrances and alcohols that can irritate sensitive skin. It is, therefore, essential to check the list of ingredients for possible allergens or irritants before buying a foot scrub.
For a smoother foot peel, people can use chemical peels that are described on the label as suitable for the facial.
People can choose from brands of peeling products online:
- Buy foot scrubs
- Buy foot brushes
- Buy electronic stain removers.
3. A pumice stone or lime on foot
People can use a pumice stone or a metal file to remove dry skin and calluses from the feet.
You can do this by following these steps:
- Dip your feet in lukewarm water to soften dead skin.
- Wet the pumice stone or file on foot with hot water.
- Rub the pumice stone or lime gently on the dead skin or cornea. Use circular movements with a pumice stone and gentle back and forth movements with a foot file.
- Rinse the dead skin off your feet. Repeat step three if necessary.
- Dry your feet with a clean towel.
- Hydrate your feet with cream, lotion, or oil.
People can buy pumice stones in pharmacies or choose from brands online.
Regular hydration of your feet reduces the dryness of the skin and prevents the formation of new dry skin. If you moisturize your feet after a peeling or pumice stone, the moisture in your skin is retained.
It’s best to avoid lotions, creams, and moisturizers that contain alcohol, added fragrances, and artificial colors, as these ingredients can make dry skin worse.
Instead, a person should search for products that include:
- Moisturizers such as urea, aloe and hyaluronic acid
- Plasticizers, including butter and vegetable oil
- Occlusives like petrolatum, lanolin and coconut oil
5. Wear moisturizing socks in bed
For additional hydration, a person can try wearing gel-coated moisture socks. These can be bought online, or users can create their own.
Gel-coated socks contain vitamins and natural oils that help moisturize and repair dry skin on the feet. The person only needs to put on a pair and carry it around the house for a few hours. Then you can put the socks in the washing machine and let them air dry.
People can get similar results by wearing their regular moisturizer and a good pair of cotton socks. Before going to bed, you can apply a generous amount of moisturizer to your feet before putting on a couple of breathable cotton socks. In the morning, the socks have to be removed, and the feet rinsed.
People can use the following tips to prevent dry skin on their feet:
- Practice right foot hygiene, including a thorough cleaning of the feet, removal of dead skin, and hydration of the surface with a good moisturizer
- Avoid body lotions, soaps, and soaps that contain alcohol, additional odors and colors, and other potential irritants
- Use hot rather than hot water for showers, baths, and feet
- wear well-fitting shoes
- Instead of rubbing your feet vigorously after showering, gently dry them with a clean towel
Wearing the wrong shoes or spending too much time standing can cause itching, dry feet, and itchy, scaly patches. Untreated, dry skin can thicken and open, leaving your feet prone to infection.
People can use pumice stones, scrubs, and feet to remove dry skin from their feet at home. Applying a moisturizer and eliminating dead skin regularly will help keep your feet healthy and hydrated.
Certain diseases such as eczema, hypothyroidism, and diabetes can lead to dehydrated skin on the feet.
People with dehydrated skin on their feet can contact a pediatrician, who is referred to as a podiatrist or other healthcare professional, to discuss possible treatment options.