Your Guide to Skin Care for Feet
It’s ironic. The skin on the feet, including the heels, takes more abuse than the skin on other parts of the body. After enduring thousands of daily steps and the weight of our bodies, feet deserve attention. Yet, many don’t pay as much attention to or don’t know how to remedy common foot skin woes, like cracking, peeling, calluses, and more. The good news is simple steps for proper foot care can restore healthy skin so that feet look good and feel good.
Start With Some Foot Care Basics
Make it a regular practice to simply look at your feet. Check skin under and on top of your feet and look at your toenails and between your toes. You might find common conditions that are best kept under check — from cuts, sores, dry skin, corns, calluses, infections, peeling, and athlete’s foot, to even eczema and psoriasis. Treating these with at-home remedies early or going to the doctor when needed can help prevent bigger or more unsightly problems down the road.
Practice good skin care by moisturizing, but don’t moisturize between toes. Wear shoes that fit and keep feet dry (not soggy in shoes). Keep toenails trimmed. Cut nails straight across with a nail clipper; then, smooth the corners of the nail with an emery board.
Dry & Cracked Heels
Dry, cracked heels are among the most common foot skin woes. The problem tends to get worse in the winter months. But regular skin care can restore smooth, intact skin to the heels and prevent the dryness and cracking from coming back.
What causes dry & cracked heels?
Cracked heels happen as the result of dry and thick heel skin. The extra pressure on the pads of your heels can cause the skin to crack. Anyone can develop cracked heels, but some things can make it more likely, such as:
- Taking frequent hot baths or showers.
- Cold weather.
- Standing for long periods of time.
- Wearing sandals or other open-heeled shoes.
- Using harsh soap.
How to treat dry & cracked heels
When you have cracked, dry heels, protect them during the day by wearing a liquid bandage over the cracks. This will help the area heal. Soaking your feet in warm soapy water and gently scrubbing with a pumice stone can help remove the hard skin on your heels. Moisturizing your feel at least twice daily will also help the skin heal.
How to prevent dry & cracked heels
Dermatologists with the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) offer these tips for healthy heel skin:
Showering or bathing for extended periods of time makes dry, cracked heels worse. Limit time in the shower or bath to 5 or 10 minutes and gently blot your skin dry, including that on your feet. To help the skin on your heels retain natural oils, don’t use harsh cleansers. Instead, use a fragrance-free, gentle soap or cleanser.
Moisturize within minutes of bathing or showering. AAD recommends moisturizing creams that contain 10% to 25% urea and alpha hydroxy acid (or salicylic acid). The skin should still be a little damp when applying the moisturizer.
Apply petroleum jelly to the heels before bed (maybe wear socks to avoid greasy sheets). Finally, wear shoes that fit properly and are comfortable. AAD says flip-flops and slingbacks are among the shoes to avoid.
Corns, Calluses and Warts
Corns, which form at the top of feet or toes, and calluses, which generally form on the bottom of feet, are common. These hard and thick skin patches on feet can be painful when walking. They can often be treated at home with over-the-counter help but may require medical attention.
What causes Corns, calluses, and warts?
Rubbing or friction from ill-fitting shoes, socks, or standing can cause corns and calluses. Those who wear high heels might be prone to calluses on the balls of their feet. Some people with foot deformities, like hammer toes, are more likely to get corns and calluses.
Warts are caused by a viral infection, most commonly by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is contagious and spreads through close contact.
How to treat Corns, calluses, and warts
Corns and calluses often go away on their own and don’t require treatment. But if they are bothersome or painful, there are things you can do to remove them. You can use over-the-counter acidic liquid to soften calluses and corns to help them peel away. Podiatrists can also use surgical blades to scrape away dead skin.
Warts can sometimes be treated with over-the-counter ointments or pads but may need more medical attention. Podiatrists can remove warts surgically and prevent the wart from spreading.
How to prevent Corns, calluses, and warts
Corns and calluses can be prevented by wearing properly fitting shoes, using protective covering like felt pads or bandages on areas that rub against your shoes, and regularly moisturizing your feet. To prevent warts, keep your feet clean and dry, and wear sandals when walking around locker rooms, public showers, or swimming pools.
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that often begins between the toes. It usually occurs in people whose feet have become wet or sweaty while wearing tight shoes.
What causes Athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot is caused by a type of fungus known as dermatophytes. This fungus thrives in warm, humid conditions such as damp socks and shoes. Athlete’s foot is contagious and can be spread by coming in contact with someone who has athlete’s foot. You can also get athlete’s foot by touching contaminated surfaces like floors and shoes.
How do I treat Athlete's Foot?
Use an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream to get rid of athlete's foot. You can also soak your feet in cool water to ease any itching. Be sure to keep your feet clean, dry, and moisturized to ensure the athlete’s foot doesn’t return.
How do I prevent Athlete’s Foot?
Tips for preventing athlete’s foot include:
- Change your socks at least once a day or more often if your feet get really sweaty.
- Let your feet air out by wearing sandals when you can.
- Wash your feet every day, especially between the toes.
- Alternate your shoes from day to day to let your shoes dry between uses.
- Wear sandals in public showers, locker rooms, or around public pools.
- Don’t share unwashed towels or bedding with others.
How to Take Care of Your Feet: The Ideal Routine
Feet are often overlooked but taking care of your feet is just as important as caring for any other part of your body. Following a foot care routine can help you stay on top of your foot health. Here’s how to take care of your feet.
Exfoliating Your Feet
The best way to maintain healthy feet is to exfoliate them regularly. Exfoliating your feet once a week can prevent heel cracks and soften calluses. You can use a foot file or pumice stone to scrape off dead skin gently.
Moisturizing & Cleansing
If you’re wondering how to keep feet soft, moisturizing is the answer. Moisturizing skin on the feet is one of the best prevention and treatment strategies for healthy skin. Make moisturizing your feet part of your daily routine. Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser or soap on your feet and body. Don’t bathe for too long, as more than 10 minutes in the bath or shower actually makes your skin drier. Dab your skin dry (especially between the toes) and apply moisturizer while the skin is slightly damp. Consider using a scientifically proven skin care product on your feet to keep your skin healthy.
DefenAge recently released their 10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream, which has been shown in studies to have the power of retinol-containing skin care without all the irritation. It’s formulated for not only the body but also the feet and hands, and let's not forget those knees and elbows.
10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream contains Defensin-molecules. Age-Repair Defensins-molecules activate young and healthy cells, making fresh skin. The cream is perfect for challenging body parts, like feet and heels, but doesn’t feel like the typical workhorse topical because it has a rich texture with no sticky, oily feel. In as soon as a week or less, simply applying the 10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream to skin morning and night:
- Visibly enhances firmness and cosmetic elasticity.
- Improves surface skin texture (including dry, cracked skin).
- Relieves dryness and itching.
- Balances the skin’s barrier function.
- Promotes the skin’s natural hyaluronic acid, laminin, and elastin.
- Softens skin to the touch.
DefenAge 10 Luxe Hand & Body contains ingredients proven to improve skin quality and texture, including aloe vera, antioxidants, jojoba, niacinamide, panthenol, shea butter, squalene oil, and vitamin E.
Don’t Neglect Your Toenails
Properly caring for your toenails can prevent problems like ingrown toenails and fungal nail infections. To care for your toenails, make sure to cut them regularly and always cut them straight across to prevent ingrown toenails. You can also apply a moisturizing cream to your cuticles and avoid cutting them away.
Gentle Foot Massage
Foot massage can improve circulation and reduce tension and pain. In addition, it allows you to examine your feet to catch blisters, calluses, corns, and toenail problems and treat them quickly. Massaging your feet for a few minutes every day can promote optimal foot health. Here are some steps to gently massage your feet.
- Pour some moisturizing lotion into your hand and gently rub it into your foot.
- Massage your foot, including the heel, arch, and toes.
- For a deeper massage, use your knuckles to knead your foot.
- You can also purchase a foot roller to make at-home foot massages easier.
General Foot Skin Care Tips
Other ways to take care of your feet include:
- Clean your feet every day in lukewarm water.
- Always wear clean, dry socks.
- Regularly inspect your feet for any issues.
- Wear well-fitting shoes.
- Apply sunscreen to your feet when they are exposed to the sun.
- Wear moisture-wicking socks if you are prone to sweaty feet.