How To Treat Dry Feet

Your feet bear your entire weight every day, so it's no surprise that dry feet are so common. Follow NIVEA's advice on how to treat dry feet and how to relieve and hydrate feet to prevent them from getting dry.

How To Treat Dry Feet

To know how to treat dry feet, it's also important to know what causes it. There are many causes of dry feet. Developing dry feet can be something obvious like your lifestyle, a poor diet, lots of walking and exercise, or just a bad foot care routine. Soaps, shower gels, heat and humidity can also lead to dry, thick, or cracked areas on the feet. Dry skin on feet can be irritating, itchy, tight, and maybe painful but, while a nuisance, it’s rarely harmful.

Follow NIVEA's advice on how to treat dry feet, the causes of dry skin on feet and finally feel relief.
Causes Of Dry Feet

Why Are Your Feet So Dry?

Dry feet and cracked soles are more common than dry skin in other parts of our body because they lack any oil glands, especially on the soles of the feet. The lack of oil leads to dehydration, one of the most significant causes of dry skin. Feet, instead, rely on sweat glands to stay moisturised.

Your foot is also under constant pressure all day from standing, walking, exercising and bearing the brunt of our entire body weight. This can cause hard, dry, callous skin forming on the pressure points in our feet, which is one of the causes of dry skin on feet. This can be especially prominent if you stand on your feet more often than the average person or do a lot of exercise or start a new exercise regime, leading to sore cracked feet developing.

It's important to employ good foot care by applying a moisturising foot lotion. You should always try to prevent dry feet and flaky skin rather than wait to treat it, so using a moisturiser every night as a routine will help treat dry skin on feet. If you do develop cracked skin on feet, try using a nourishing lotion twice a day, once after a bath or shower and once before bed to rehydrate dry feet.
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6 Causes Of Dry Feet

woman in shower

Hot Water

Taking showers and baths in very hot water can sap the moisture out of the feet, leaving them feeling dry and dehydrated. The longer you stay in the bath or shower, the worse the dryness will be; if the skin on your feet and hands become wrinkled, you know you’ve been in there for too long. Shower or bathe in lukewarm water to avoid drying out the feet and watch out for harsh soaps and body washes that can also strip moisture from the skin. Be sure to wash off all excess soap before stepping out of the bath or shower to prevent dry skin on feet.
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UVA/UVB Damage

Spending long periods of time in the sun can dry out your feet. Feet are especially prone to sun damage and UV rays,  as they are an area people tend to forget to apply sunscreen, but the thin, delicate skin on the top of the feet is particularly exposed to the elements. Next time you slip on a pair of sandals on a sunny day, don’t forget to apply sun cream.

Cold Weather

Cold winter weather conditions strip the skin of its moisture, leaving it feeling dehydrated. In addition, indoor heating systems reduce the moisture in the air during the winter months, which dries out the feet even further. Winter skincare is an important part of taking care of your skin. You should pay special attention to your feet in winter and up your moisturising game.
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Skin Conditions

The feet can be prone to dryness and rashes from certain skin conditions due to the friction caused by shoes and socks, and the feet's many sweat glands. Skin conditions include:

  • Athlete’s foot: a fungal infection that can happen if your feet are damp or in sweaty socks for long periods of time
  • Eczema: a common skin complaint, eczema causes itchy, dry skin that with scratching becomes flaky or begins to peel
  • Psoriasis: an autoimmune disorder, psoriasis causes skin cells to multiply faster than normal. Rather than shedding regularly as normal skin cells do, they build up on the skin, which creates rashes and lesions that are itchy, sore and unsightly.

If you think you are experiencing any one of these skin conditions, we recommend seeking advice from a dermatologist or your local GP.

woman outside

Heat and Humidity

Feet encased in closed trainers or shoes can become hot and sweaty, especially when it’s humid. While feet don’t have oil glands, they do have a lot of sweat glands - more than any other part of the body in fact. A hot, sweaty, enclosed environment will draw out moisture from the skin and cause friction and irritation which can lead to cracked skin on feet.
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Standing For A Long Time

Standing for too long or wearing badly fitting shoes puts constant pressure on your feet and can cause friction. This friction or pressure can lead to dry, cracked feet. Running or other high-intensity workouts, in particular, can lead to painful cracking feet. Regular foot soaks and paying particular care to moisturise affected areas will help to relieve dry skin on feet caused by exercise or long periods of standing. 

Caring For Dry Feet

With a good skincare routine, knowing how to treat dry feet doesn't have to be an uphill struggle and you can keep your dry feet fit and healthy.

Getting into a regular routine will help prevent new dry skin on feet or cracked feet from forming.

Dry Feet Treatment: Best Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Dry Skin On Feet

Caring for your feet can help keep them smooth and callus-free. Dead skin cells build up on neglected feet which can form thick, cracked areas on the heels or soles of the feet. These can, over time, become uncomfortable and can even make walking painful and difficult.

When caring for dry skin on feet it's important to establish a good routine that includes targeted cleansing as well as moisturising. Sweat and dirt can become trapped in the dead cells which can attract bacteria and odour, and further cause dry feet. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get rid of dry skin on feet and prevent it from forming:

Step 1: Cleanse your dry feet

To treat dry feet, thoroughly cleanse your feet with a moisturising body wash. It is important to wash away dirt, dead skin cells and bacteria that can build up. Get into the habit of washing your feet in the bath or shower every day, remembering to wash between your toes. Using a moisturising shower gel will double the benefits, sloughing off dead skin cells and the day’s dirt along with it, and giving your feet a soothing hit of moisture to ward off dryness.  For a deep cleanse that can really help soak off dry skin on feet, try a weekly - or even more regular - foot soak. 

A foot soak in warm water not only helps to loosen dry skin, but it can also work to prevent dry skin by increasing blood circulation to the feet. Foot soaks can be particularly beneficial at targeting specific foot problems as they allow you to add ingredients that can help, including: Vinegar, epsom salts and essential oils such as peppermint or lavender.

You don’t need a specialised footbath - a washing up bowl will do. Simply fill it with warm water and add any specialist ingredient you like. Soak your feet for up to 15-20 minutes (or until the water goes cold).

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Step 2: Exfoliate your dry feet

After bathing or soaking your feet, use a foot file or pumice stone to slough off dead skin from your dry feet to reveal new softer layers of skin underneath. Soak the pumice stone in warm water before using it. After towelling your foot, massage the pumice stone over your skin in circular motions gently for two or three minutes and rinse afterwards. Once you're done exfoliating the cracked skin on feet, it's best to use a highly moisturising lotion, the new softer skin should absorb moisturiser quicker and healthier than dry skin. Our NIVEA Repair & Care Body Lotion is particularly kind on exfoliated feet that may feel a bit more sensitive than usual. Enriched with avocado oil, it hydrates dry skin on feet leaving you with smooth, moisturised, and healthy-looking skin.

Step 3: Moisturise your dry feet

Our range of NIVEA Body Lotions work in balance with the skin's microbiome - an "invisible layer" of bacteria on your body - to help maintain and repair this natural barrier of your skin. They work particularly well on feet as they lock in moisture so it can’t evaporate easily, keeping your feet dryer and less prone to cracking. Lather body lotion on your feet and calves after a shower or bath, massaging into the heels and soles of the feet, which are more susceptible to dryness and cracking.

Step 4: Overnight foot mask

For a rich, deep moisturising treat for your feet consider an overnight foot mask. Simply slather on rich moisturising lotion and pop on a pair of cotton socks before you go to bed. You should wake up with softer, more hydrated skin in the morning. 

Some experts recommended honey as a natural remedy for dry feet on skin. You can use it as a foot scrub after a footbath - just massage it on the affected areas. Alternatively, you can apply it as a foot mask overnight, protecting the sheets with socks.

Top Tips For How To Stop Dry Skin On Feet

- Prevention is better than treatment! Ensure you have a good diet and skincare routine, as these will help to stop the skin from drying out.

- Make sure you're drinking enough water - a lack of hydration will have an impact on your skin. Specifically, dehydration will stimulate dry skin on your feet.

- Increase circulation to the feet; by improving diet, exercising more, not smoking and improving leg posture.

- Use a humidifier to stop the air around you from drying out. If the air dries out too much, it can lead to skin drying out too, causing dry skin on the feet.

- Try to shower and bath in lukewarm water instead of hot. If the temperature is too hot it'll lead to dry and often sore skin.

- Use products designed to provide hydration to the skin, and avoid any products with too much ethyl alcohol in them.
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Don't Scratch Your Feet

There's a temptation to try and scratch the flaky skin on your feet. It can be itchy and uncomfortable, but scratching can lead to spreading bacteria and also lead to cracked skin on feet and cuts. The spreading of bacteria can lead to spots, infections and sore feet. Instead of scratching, apply a cold flannel to soothe itchy feet or gently cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise.

Dry Feet And Sock Choice

You (presumably) wear socks almost all day long, and if you have dry skin on feet, it could mean that bacteria that contributes to dry skin is transferred to the sock and vice versa. Make sure you're wearing clean, breathable socks all the time to avoid cracked skin on feet. After exercising, you should change your socks if you're unable to shower straight away and never re-wear socks without washing them first.

Having socks that allow your feet to breathe can prevent dry feet and help to treat dry skin on feet. Cotton socks are lighter and cooler than synthetic socks and help stop foot odour.