Are your feet drying out this winter? Experiencing a build-up of dead skin on the feet is a common podiatric problem, especially during these cooler months.
Thankfully, there are several ways to remove dead skin from your feet from the safety of your home. Canyon Oaks Foot & Ankle is here to share tips for exfoliating your feet. Beyond that, we’ll discuss the causes of dead skin on the feet and how to prevent foot dryness.
Causes of Dead Skin on Feet
Dead skin build-up links closely to dryness. Many internal and external factors can affect the skin of the feet and cause excessive dead skin.
Common causes of dry feet and dead skin build-up include:
- Weather – As the seasons change, our skin may react negatively. Cold weather can cause the feet on the skin to dry out.
- Diabetes – “Diabetes can cause changes in the skin of your foot. At times your foot may become very dry. The skin may peel and crack. The problem is that the nerves that control the oil and moisture in your foot no longer work,” explains the American Diabetes Association.
- Calluses – When feet experience high pressure or friction due to footwear, sports, or daily activities, calluses can build up on the foot.
- Showering – “Dry skin is mainly caused by too much bathing and soap (soap dermatitis). Soap removes the skin’s natural protective oils. Once they are gone, the skin can’t hold moisture,” says Seattle Children’s Hospital.
- Age and Hormones – Skin, including the skin on the feet, may experience dryness due to changes within the body.
- Skin Conditions – Patients suffering from skin conditions such as eczema are more likely to experience dryness of the foot and dead skin build-up.
Everyone’s feet will shed dead skin. It is a natural function of the human body. However, if you are experiencing excessive dead skin on your feet, visit your podiatrist. Your foot doctor will examine your feet’s skin condition and assess whether there could be underlying causes requiring medical attention.
It is possible to treat most cases of dead skin build-up on the feet at home.
Guide to Removing Dead Skin From Your Feet
Removing excess dead skin from your feet is a relatively simple and painless process. Some patients enjoy incorporating it into their weekly foot hygiene routine.
Follow these steps to remove dead skin from your feet:
- Soak – Make a warm (not hot) footbath and soak your feet for 10-20 minutes. Add Epsom salts or mild soap to the soak, if you wish. Soaking your feet will soften the skin and make it easier to remove the dead skin.
- Exfoliate – Using a pumice stone, loofah, buffer, foot file, or another type of foot scrubber, knock down the dead skin on your feet. Be careful not to scrub too hard. The skin on your feet is naturally tougher than other parts of the body, so don’t aim for a super soft texture.
Remember, everyone’s skin is different, so you may need to adjust your exfoliation methods to your skin type. For example, if you have sensitive skin, be careful not to exfoliate too much or use harsh soaps when washing your feet. For patients with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, it is best to entrust your podiatric care to a professional instead of attempting at-home maintenance.
If a routine of soaking and exfoliating your feet does not diminish your dead skin build-up or you notice dry or cracking heels, seek advice from your podiatrist on how to manage your skin’s condition.
How to Prevent Dry Feet
Regularly moisturizing your feet is a key to preventing excessive build-up of dead skin.
“To combat dry skin, moisturize your feet often,” advises Mayo Clinic. “Moisturizers provide a seal over your skin to keep water from escaping and your skin from drying out. Moisturize as frequently as you can, especially before you go to bed. Then put on a pair of socks to lock in the moisture overnight.”
Caring for your feet by soaking, exfoliating, and moisturizing will improve their appearance and promote good foot health.