moisturised pair of legs and feet

5 Causes Of Dry Skin On Feet

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

What causes dry skin on feet?

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. Follow NIVEA's advice on how to treat dry feet and finally feel relief.

Why are your feet so dry? Causes of dry feet

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. Read more on the causes of dry skin with NIVEA.

Your foot is also under constant pressure all day from standing, walking and exercising 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/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 such as NIVEA Lotion - Dry Skin. You should always try to prevent dry feet and flaky skin rather than wait to treat it, so using a moisturiser every night of the week as a routine will help treat dry skin on feet. If you do develop dry skin on feet, or cracked feet try using a nourishing lotion twice a day, once after a bath or shower and once before bed to re-hydrate dry feet.

lady in the bath scrubbing her dry skin on feet

5 reasons for dry feet

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 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.

lady lying on her front on a sandy beach

5 reasons for dry feet

UVA/UVB damage

Spending long periods of time in the sun can dry out your feet. Feet are especially prone to sun damage 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 a sun cream like the NIVEA Sun Protect & Moisture Moisturising Sun Lotion

brunette lady with gloves standing in snow

5 reasons for dry feet

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.

pair of feet wearing socks

5 reasons for dry feet

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.
  • Hypothyroidism: an underactive thyroid can cause dry skin and hair 
  • Diabetes: Nerve damage can affect your body's ability to control the oil and moisture in your foot which can cause skin to peel and crack.
If you think you are experiencing any one of these skin conditions, we recommend seeking advice from a dermatologist or your local GP.

5 reasons for dry feet

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 dry or cracked feet.


With a good skincare routine, treating dry skin on 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 forming.

Dry Feet Treatment: Best way to get rid of dry skin on feet

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 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 such as the NIVEA LOVE Sunshine Shower Gel and 

  • 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.

Read our guide on how to exfoliate for more tips.

  • Step 3: Moisturise your dry feet

Good foot care starts with a good night-time moisturising foot lotion which will help prevent dry skin on feet. For a super nourishing pre-bed massage, try the NIVEA Soft moisturising cream.

Apply a moisturiser to still damp feet which will lock in more of the cream’s hydrating benefits. The NIVEA Rich Nourishing Body Lotion is ideal for applying post-shower, as it can absorb quickly into the skin. With moisture that lasts all day long, you can look forward to fresh, smooth and healthy looking feet in no time. Continued use after the problem's ended helps prevent new dry skin on feet or cracked feet forming.

nice pair of feet on a white background


There's 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 your 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.

socks hanging on a washing line

Dry Feet and Sock Choice

You (presumably) wear socks almost all day along, 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. Making sure you're wearing clean, breathable socks all the time to avoid cracked skin on your 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 breath 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.

Top tips for taking care of dry feet

  • Prevention is better than treatment! Ensure you have a good diet and skincare routine, as these will help to stop 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 remaining.
  • 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.

  • Try an in-shower body milk, such as our NIVEA In-Shower Body Moisturiser for Dry Skin, to help prevent dry skin on the feet caused by hot showers

woman stroking her legs

NIVEA To Help Treat Dry Skin On Feet

Our feet bear the brunt of our lifestyles - all that walking, running, standing, wearing too-tight shoes - which can lead to dry, cracked areas on your feet, which may appear loose or hanging. Corns and calluses, areas of thickened skin resulting from abnormal pressure or rubbing, can also form. Exfoliating and moisturising your feet regularly can help keep your feet smooth and soft.

Try the NIVEA Soft Moisturising Cream to help combat dry skin on feet - the formula contains Vitamin E & Jojoba Oil to provide a highly effective, quick absorbing hydration hit to your feet, to leave them feeling soft and supple.