Although it is perhaps not commonly thought of as a painful foot problem, dry skin on your feet can be quite uncomfortable and can actually lead to full-blown foot pain. This article offers some easy ways to soothe the situation.

Some people suffer dry skin all their lives. Others acquire it as they age and the body begins to lose its natural elasticity and moisture. This change affects the feet as well as the rest of the body. In fact, feet are among the body parts most likely to have dry skin. Left untreated, dry skin can crack and become painful. This is especially true for the skin on the backs of the heels (which rubs against shoe heels) and under the toes.

Xeroderma is a mild dry-skin condition that stems from a seasonal decrease in humidity. It most often affects older people (whose skin naturally has less moisture than that of younger people) during the wintertime. Severe dry-skin conditions include eczema and psoriasis, both of which are rashes that are scabby and very itchy and that can show up all over the body, including on the feet. If they occur between toes and cause the skin to crack, they can make walking painful. Chronic dry, cracked skin, especially around the edges of the heel, can even be a warning sign of a thyroid disorder or diabetes.

Take whatever everyday precautions you can to slow this loss of body moisture. For example:

  • Avoid wearing shoes without socks or wearing backless shoes, both of which can cause or worsen dry skin.

  • Use a humidifier in your home.

  • Shower in lukewarm or cool, not hot, water. If you prefer baths, use bath oil, but use caution when getting in or out of the tub.

  • Don't bathe too frequently (no more than once a day), because over-cleaning the skin robs it of some of its natural moisture.

  • Avoid harsh deodorant soaps.

  • Soak your feet in water for about 20 minutes; apply moisturizer.

  • If you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, or another more serious skin condition, see a doctor about what ointments might work best for you.

Soothing Solutions

To soften skin, try this special recipe once a week:

1. Crush six aspirin tablets and mix them with a tablespoon each of water and lemon juice to make a paste.

2. Apply the paste to callused spots and dry skin on both feet.

3. Place each foot in a plastic bag; wrap a warm towel around each.

4. Sit with your feet wrapped and elevated for 10 minutes.

5. Remove the towels and bags, and scrub any rough, dry spots with a pumice stone. At this point, the dead skin should be soft and loose enough to come off.

You can also use moisturizing cream, rather than aspirin paste, in a different version of this routine. Apply the cream right before you go to bed, and then cover your feet with plastic wrap. Sleep with your feet elevated on a pillow, and don't remove the wrap until morning. (Be careful not to wrap the plastic so tightly that it restricts circulation.)

Another home recipe for softening dry skin is to soak your feet in a very diluted solution of water and chamomile tea. Afterward, wash your feet with soap and water to remove the tea stains. Then, apply moisturizer.

Of course, any kind of footbath will help to soften dry skin. Just be sure to apply moisturizer immediately after soaking. A towel wrap can help fight dry skin and relax tired muscles, too. Just wrap each foot in a dry towel, then wrap a towel that has been soaked in hot water around the dry towel. Add two or three layers, alternating dry towels with wet, hot towels; finish with a dry towel. Keep the towels on for 20 minutes. Then, apply moisturizer.


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