How to Fix Rough, Dry Cracked Skin on Feet

If you’re dealing with dry, rough, or cracked skin on the feet, you’re not alone. Having dry, cracked skin on the feet is a common skin problem. (1)

First, feet, much like hands, have fewer oil glands than other areas of the body. Second, they experience a tremendous amount of daily wear and tear. But more importantly, most people just don’t take proper care of their feet.

You can relieve and fix rough, dry, cracked skin on feet using some simple home remedies. Simple foot soaks, thick moisturizers, and regular exfoliation can reduce dry skin on the feet, remove areas of dead skin and calluses, and prevent them from returning.  

Let’s look at the causes and our recommended treatments for dry, cracked, or scaly skin on the feet.

CAUSES: Everyday Factors

  • A lack of moisture. Fewer oil glands on heels and the sole of the foot can cause dry, cracked, and flaking skin.
  • Irritation. People who stand for long periods of time put a lot of stress on their feet.  Wearing poorly fitting shoes can put constant pressure on specific areas of the feet or cause friction of the skin. As a result, these areas of the feet may become dry, calloused, or cracked.
  • Heat and humidity. The inside of your shoes can get very hot and humid.  Heat and humidity draw moisture from the skin. (2)
  • Cold Weather. Dry Skin is more common during the cold, dry winter months. In addition, indoor heating further dries out the indoor air.
  • Aging. Over time, the skin loses its ability to retain water, becoming thinner and less plump. The protective fat pad on the sole gets thinner. As you lose this cushioning in the heel and ball of the foot, your skin becomes more stressed, leading to cracked, calloused skin.
  • Soaps. Commercial soaps and body washes that contain harsh chemicals or irritants can strip moisture from the skin.
  • Medications. Certain medications, including diuretics, can cause dry skin on the feet.

CAUSES: Skin & Medical Conditions

  • Diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes may result in damage to the peripheral nerves, Neuropathy. Neuropathy can affect the nerves that regulate oil and moisture in the feet, which can cause the feet to become dry or cracked.
  • Eczema, A-Topic Dermatitis. Eczeama is a group of conditions that causes inflammation on skin. 
  • Psoriasis.  Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes thick, scaly patches of skin almost anywhere on the body, including feet
  • Athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that causes a scaly rash between the toes and underneath the foot.
  • Hypothyroidism. People with hypothyroidism can develop extremely dry feet because their thyroid gland cannot regulate the sweat glands in the feet, which can lead them to become dry.
  • Leg vain problems. Called Venous Stasis


Nobody likes dry skin especially when it gets itchy and rough, or painful when its cracked. Here are ways to treat them at home.

1. Exfoliate

The key to having healthy skin is removing the dead skin. 

Dead skin cells naturally fall off, and new cells take their place. But they don’t always flake off as they should. Exfoliation helps remove the build-up of dead skin cells otherwise they can form thick, flaky patches on the feet.

Physically exfoliate skin using a foot scrub, body brush, or electronic callus remover

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2. Foot Soak

Soaking the feet in warm water helps soothe and loosen dry skin while improving blood circulation to the feet, which can help prevent dry skin in the future.

Adding a small amount of vinegar to a foot soak may help treat mild forms of athlete’s foot. Vinegar has powerful antimicrobial properties that may help disinfect the feet and even eliminate foot odor. Here is how to make a vinegar soak.

Other beneficial ingredients to consider adding to a foot soak are Epsom salt, oatmeal, lemon juice, oatmeal or peppermint essential oil.

3. File or Pumice

For rough areas on the soles of the feet, use a foot file or pumice stone after bathing or soaking your feet.

This routine is very effective at keeping callouses from building up on the soles.  For dry skin on the tops of the feet and the legs, try a loofah sponge or exfoliating skin product.

4. Moisturize More Often

Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize again especially before your head hits the pillow.   This is the only way to reduce existing dry skin and prevent new dry skin from accumulating.

Moisturizing the feet after using an exfoliator or a pumice stone will help the skin lock in moisture.

It is best to avoid lotions, creams, and moisturizers that contain alcohol, or synthetic ingredients that worsen dry skin. Instead look for ingredients that contain:

  • Humectants (draws moisture to skin) aloe, lactic acid, glycerin, or honey.
  • Emollients (adds moisture to skin) plant-based oils and butters.
  • Occlusive (Prevents moisture loss) plant-based waxes.

Learn more about choosing the right moisturizer.

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Here are some tips on how to prevent dry skin on feet.

  • Maintain proper foot hygiene. Clean feet thoroughly, remove dead skin and keep skin hydrated with a natural moisturizer.  

  • Avoiding soaps, body washes, exfoliators, and lotions that contain alcohol, and other skin irritating ingredients.  Check out these Goat Milk Soaps, available in 40+ fragrances for women, men, youth scents.

  • Using warm water rather than hot for baths, showers, and foot soaks.

  • Be gentle when rubbing feet after a shower.  Pat them dry with a clean towel.

  • Wearing properly fitting shoes.

When to See a Professional

Getting regular professional pedicures are a great way to provide basic care for your feet.  They are also a great way to kick start a skincare routine for your feet.  They are relatively inexpensive compared to the medical costs that come about after years of neglecting the importance. 

Dry feet are not a cause for concern and can be treated at home.  However, people who have severely dry skin or bleeding cracks on their feet might want to consider contacting a specialist foot doctor, podiatrist, or another healthcare professional to discuss possible treatment options.  Contact your doctor if you notice redness, warmth, swelling, or pus coming from the cracks in the skin.

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Recommended Articles:

Cracked Heels: At Home Remedies & Prevention

The Health Benefits of Taking Better Care of Your Feet

Winter Pedicures: Do You Really Need Them

How To Get Rid of Extremely Dry Skin at Home

Natural Solutions for Rough, Dry, Over-Washed Hands

Written By: Mary Ellen Wank, Wellness Advocate and Founder of LATIV, Natural Skin Revival DISCLAIMER


(1) Institute For Preventive Foot Health. National Foot Health Assessment 2012. 2012.

(2) Boutrand LB, Thépot A, Muther C, et al. Repeated short climatic change affects the epidermal differentiation program and leads to matrix remodeling in a human organotypic skin modelClin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017;10:43-50. doi:10.2147/CCID.S120800

Medical News Today; Best Remedies For Dry Skin on Feet

January 6, 2022 2:01 pm

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