Are your feet in need of a little TLC? Dry feet are extremely common and, in most cases, easy to cure. We are more likely to suffer dry feet than anywhere else on our body because our feet do not have any oil glands, instead relying on sweat glands to stay moisturised. 

In the hotter summer months, your feet tend to be more exposed to the elements leaving them dry and dehydrated, whilst during the winter the cold weather means your feet are hidden away, which can also play havoc with our skin’s moisture levels. Many of us will find our feet are flakier and drier during these seasons.

What causes dry skin on feet?

There are many factors that cause dry feet. External factors such as the soaps we use and the shoes we wear can cause your feet to become dry. Whilst internal factors also play their part, ageing skin, genetics and medical conditions can all affect the skin on your feet.

Poorly-fitting shoes

Our feet are under constant pressure all day. Wearing ill-fitting shoes can result in dry patchy areas of skin that leave them sore and irritated. Dry skin on feet becomes thick as the dead skin cells build and this can cause the skin to crack leaving it more susceptible to infection.

Soaps

With such a vast choice of soaps on offer it is difficult to know the best one to get for your skin. If you are prone to having dry skin be aware! Certain soaps can actually dehydrate your skin, stripping essential oils, leaving it irritated and cracked. Try to avoid soaps which contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), alcohol, and synthetic fragrances as these can all cause irritation and dry the skin on your feet.

Skin structure & ageing

We all have different types of skin structure from oily to dry and this will impact how dry the skin on your feet is. As we age our skin also becomes thinner and less elastic. On our feet the fat pad that protects the sole of our foot also becomes thinner, resulting in increased skin stress causing a build up of dry damaged skin.

Heat and Humidity

Heat and humidity can come from many different sources. It may be that your feet are too hot in your shoes, the water you wash them in is too hot or simply the environment you live in. If your feet become too hot, they will sweat and this draws moisture away from the skin, leaving them dry and flaky.

Dry skin on feet: structure
The structure of skin on our feet makes it particularly prone to dryness

Underlying medical conditions

An underlying skin condition may be causing your dry feet, in which case it is always advisable to get them checked out by your doctor or podiatrist:

  • Athlete’s foot: a fungal condition which causes an itchy or burning rash and peeling of skin on your feet
  • Eczema: a common skin complaint with over seven different types that cause the skin to become itchy, inflamed or have a rash like appearance
  • Psoriasis: an autoimmune disorder often associated with a red, scaly rash
  • Hypothyroidism: a thyroid disorder which can cause dry and scaly skin on your body and feet
  • Diabetes: a metabolic disease which can result in very dry, peeled and cracked skin in the feet
  • Dietary deficiency: certain conditions such as Crohns disease or Celiac disease may cause the body to be deficient in certain essential fatty acids and vitamins causing dry, flaky skin
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How to get rid of dry skin on feet

Getting rid of dry skin on your feet doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. With a little bit of time and care there are many simple and effective treatments that you can undertake all in the comfort of your own home.

Regular exfoliation

Pumice stone or foot file: Using a pumice stone or foot file once a week will help to remove a build up of dry, rough skin. Before starting make sure your feet are clean and dried thoroughly. Gently file away the areas that are thickened. You shouldn’t feel any discomfort when doing this as you are simply removing dead skin.

Foot scrubs: Pick or make one that contains natural organic granules that will help to brush away the dead skin that can cause dry flaky feet. Rub directly onto your foot gently in circular motions, thoroughly rinse off with warm water and gently pat dry to finish.

Foot soak: Treat your feet to a nourishing oatmeal or Epsom salt bath. The crystallised structure of the Epsom salt helps to provide exfoliation of the dead skin on the feet whilst oatmeal provides a soothing, wholesome bath for your feet.

Electronic hard skin removers: These take the effort out of foot filing. Many electronic hard skin removers allow you to use on both wet and dry skin. Simply buff away hard dry skin with the touch of a button leaving soft, smooth skin on your feet.

Moisturise your feet

While using a good quality moisturising cream containing shea butter, aloe or urea on a daily basis will be nourishing for your feet, your choice of socks is more important than you might realise. Socks that are made from a soft, breathable fabric such as cotton, wool or bamboo will help stop skin irritation and allow your feet to breath. This will prevent them from sweating and drying out.

You could also try a pair of moisturising socks – just like a face mask but for your feet! For the best results put them on at night just after you have washed and cleansed your feet to lock in the maximum amount of moisture.

person wearing cotton socks
Wear cotton socks over your moisturiser at night to intensify the benefits.

Pedicures

A professional pedicure is a great way of giving your feet some TLC. The most important aspect of a pedicure is to get rid of dry dead skin on your feet. Your feet will feel fully rejuvenated after a pedicure.

Or treat yourself to a pedicure in the comfort of your own home. Check out our comprehensive 10-step guide on how to give yourself a great pedicure with some extra ideas for a few pampering treats to leave your feet feeling fully nourished and rehydrated.
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How to prevent dry skin on feet

Prevention is always better than having to cure. Use the following advice to keep your feet in good condition and avoid a build-up of dry skin.

Wear the right footwear

Wearing shoes that fit correctly will help prevent damage to the delicate skin on your feet, this in turn will stop them from becoming dry and flaky.

Certain types of soles in shoes such as leather or rubber can cause more friction which can exacerbate the problem. Gel or memory foam soles will help to support your feet and stop them from becoming dry and cracked. Remember to adapt your shoes and socks appropriately for the weather to prevent them drying out in either hot or cold seasons.

Can’t face not wearing your favourite pair of high heels? Check out our survival tips for high heel fans for the best advice on making sure they don’t put any extra strain on your feet.

Avoid harmful ingredients

Avoid creams, soaps and washes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), alcohol and synthetic fragrances as these ingredients are known to cause dry skin complaints, and irritate your feet.

Love your feet

Take the time to give your feet a bit of love and attention. A weekly exfoliate and daily moisturise should help to keep dry skin at bay.

Try to avoid washing your feet in very hot water and instead opt for a lukewarm oatmeal or Epsom salt bath. Gently pat your feet dry as rubbing them hard can cause damage to the skin. A regular pedicure from a professional will help keep your feet in tip top condition.
woman moisturising her feet
Dry feet will benefit from regular moisturisation

When to seek medical advice

If you suffer from any underlying medical conditions that might result in dry sore feet or your self-care isn’t helping, it is always advisable to seek professional advice to ensure you are receiving the right treatment.
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