There’s a reason so many people don’t like feet – a quick glance around come sandal season should tell you all you need to know.
Overgrown toe nails and chipped polish are just the start of it. Dead skin corns and cracked heels, can leave us with truly ugly looking – no wonder so many of us are embarrassed to get them out.
Although we often feel judged for the condition of our feet, solace can be found in the fact it has little to do with personal hygiene. This leads us to question on everyone’s lips:
What causes hard skin on feet?
We don’t expect to wear shoes every day and them show no sign of wear, so why do we expect our feet to stay in perfect condition? It’s easy to forget just how we rely on our feet to do, well, pretty much everything. From walking to the sofa to running a half marathon – everywhere we go, our feet come with us.
All that movement takes its toll on our soles, and that’s without factoring in other elements.
Possible causes of hard skin on feet
The main cause of hard skin(correctly known as a foot callus) on the soles of our feet is intermittent pressure. This means that anyone who moves is more likely than not to experience foot calluses at some point during their life.
For people that move more, including runners and those that engage in other sports, foot calluses become even more likely.
There are certain factors which increase the chances and severity of foot calluses. These include being overweight and also having naturally flat feet or high arches as these result in uneven pressure on the soles of our feet.
What causes corns on feet?
Corns are caused by friction, and are often a result of ill fitting shoes that repeatedly rub against skin.
Corns are much smaller than foot calluses. They are small bumps of hard, dead skin with a central core, and usually found on top of or between toes (particularly the 4th and 5th toes). They can be rather painful, especially if left untreated.
Causes of cracked heels
Cracked heels are perhaps the most unsightly of all. They occur when skin on the heels becomes very dry, hard and rigid. When pressure is put on the feet, the skin can’t give or expand, which causes it to crack.
Causes of dry skin, leading to cracked heels can include not moisturising, staying in the bath for too long, scrubbing feet dry and more.
How to get soft feet at home
Whilst the removal of corns is best left to a doctor, cracked heels and calluses can be treated at home.
Follow our foolproof method to get silky soft, smooth feet in just five steps.
1. Soak feet to make them soft
All foot treatments should start with a foot soak. This helps to soften the skin, and make it easier to remove and treat.
Your foot soak should be carried out in a basin or bath of warm water. Additional ingredients can be added to the water to make it even more effective at softening feet. Why not try:
- The juice of a lemon – citric acid aid in the removal or dead skin cells.
- A cup of white vinegar – rich in acetic acid which helps with skin removal and healing cracked feet.
- A generous sprinkling of Epsom salts which have great skin healing properties.
- A cup of honey – known for its natural moisturizing benefits.
2. Remove dead skin
Time to tackle that unsightly rough skin. Post foot soak, it should be softer and much easier to remove. Grab a pumice stone, and rub it over the soles of your feet in circular motions. Be gentle on the arch of your feet, as there should be little no foot calluses here, and instead, direct your attention to the soles and balls of the feet. Scrub away until skin feels soft and smooth.
If at any time your feet become sore or sensitive, stop.
3. Treat cracked heels
If your feet are looking really worse for wear, they may need additional treatment. DIY foot ‘masks’ will be able to penetrate deep into cracks and fissures and give them the nourishment they need. There are various, natural, at home treatments you can try. Here are some of our favourites:
- Vaseline – slather the substance onto feet, being sure to massage it well into cracked heels. Tie a bag around each foot and leave to soak for an hour.
- Oatmeal – mix 1 tbsp of oatmeal with a few drops of jojoba oil and massage onto feet. Leave for 20 minutes before rinsing and drying with a towel.
- Rice flour – mix 3 tbsp of rice flour with 3 tbsp honey and 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar. Mix ingredients and apply to feet. Leave to work its magic fo 15 minutes before rinsing.
- Coconut oil – massage into feet, pop on a pair of clean, cotton socks and leave to soak overnight.
4. Moisturise your feet
Now all that nasty dry skin has been removed and cracked heels have been treated, it’s time to apply a layer of moisture to soothe and soften cells further. Make sure feet are clean, then massage a thick layer of foot cream into the skin. It’s best to use a specialised cream, as these are much richer than body moisturisers and will penetrate the skin more deeply.
By now, your feet should be both feeling and looking a whole lot better. The care doesn’t end there, though. Often, one treatment enough isn’t sufficient, and the above steps should be repeated until your feet have completely recovered.
How to prevent foot calluses, cracked heels & corns
As with most things, the prevention of calluses, cracked heels and corns is much easier – and less unpleasant – than trying to treat them.
Correct your gait
If you’ve been unfortunate enough to have been born with flat feet, it may be worth going to see a specialist, such as a physio or a podiatrist. They will be able to provide you with insoles to put into your existing shoes which will even out the pressure put on the soles of your feet, preventing the build up of hard skin in the future.
As they’re often hidden in shoes, we tend to neglect our feet much more than other body parts. This is a big mistake, and will only encourage feet to become cracked and dry skin to develop.
Not only should feet be moisturised every day, but a specialist foot cream should be used. These are much thicker and contain ingredients that will nourish and soothe your tired feet, preventing foot calluses and cracked heels.
Wear shoes that fit
Ill-fitting shoes are one of the main causes of corns. As a general rule, if a shoe feels too snug, it’s probably a bad idea.
If you really must have that pair of red patent brogues, be sure to stretch them out sufficiently before wearing them, or visit a shoe smith who will be able to do this for you.
Comfortable feet are happy feet. Treat them well, and they’ll look and feel much better for it.
Here’s to silky soft feet, all year round. I might even treat myself to a spot of nail varnish! How do you keep your feet soft?