Thickened hard skin on parts of the feet serves a protective function.1 However, this hard thickened skin may be the cause of symptoms when extensive.1 It may also be considered unsightly. Fortunately, there are easy ways to remove hard skin at home—read on for our helpful tips to keep your feet smooth and nourished.
What is hard skin on the feet?
Hard skin on your feet occurs when the outer layer of skin becomes thick and hardened—this is your skin’s way of protecting itself from friction (rubbing) and pressure, such as from your shoes.1,2 Hard skin typically looks like an area of thick, hardened skin on your foot.2
Areas of hard skin are most common on the parts of your feet that get exposed to the most friction and pressure—the ball of the foot, under the big toe, the rim of the heel, and on the toes (especially the little toe).1,2
With continued friction and pressure, these areas of thick, hard skin can develop into a callus or corn.3 A callus is usually larger and occurs on the bottom or side of the foot; a corn is usually smaller, has a central core, and occurs on or between toes.1,2 A callus may appear yellow or brown in colour4 with undefined edges,1 while a corn may appear white2 with a central core and more obvious edges.1
What causes hard skin on the feet?
When friction and pressure on your feet increase, more skin cells are produced to form a thick, hardened layer on the surface.1
Unfortunately, these areas of hard skin can in turn increase the pressure and friction from shoes, which can then worsen the hard skin.1,3
Factors that can contribute to increased pressure and friction on the skin of your feet include:2,3
- Poorly-fitting, tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes
- Activities like running, walking, or standing for long periods of time
- Foot abnormalities such as bunions or toe deformities, and feet that roll inwards or outwards while walking
- Ageing skin that is less elastic and contains less fatty tissue to cushion the feet
How to manage hard skin on the feet
The best way to manage hard skin is to remove the cause of friction and pressure1,2—this involves both making changes to your footwear and removing the hard skin on your feet.5
To reduce friction and pressure from your footwear, you can try:
- Applying protective cushions, plasters, or padding on the affected area.1,5 Scholl has a range of corn and callus cushions, plasters, and pads to help relieve pain and pressure.
- Wearing insoles, inserts, or orthoses to redistribute pressure.3,5 Check out Scholl’s range of insoles and inserts to increase the comfort of your shoes.
To remove hard skin from your feet quickly, you can try:
- Filing the affected area with a pumice stone or a foot file. Soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes to make filing easier.1,3,5 An electric foot file such as the Scholl Velvet Smooth™ Express Pedi can help gently remove hard skin.6
- Applying a moisturiser that contains ingredients such as urea to help reduce the build-up of dry skin.4,5 Try Scholl’s Dry Skin PediMask™ designed to provide an intense feeling of nourishment.7
If your hard skin becomes painful, or you have any concerns about a callus or corn, you should see your GP or podiatrist.
How to prevent hard skin on the feet
To help prevent hard skin from forming on your feet, try the following:
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit properly. Avoid shoes that are high-heeled, tight, or narrow1,3,5
- Use inserts, insoles, or orthoses to relieve pressure and friction from your shoes3,5
- Maintain good feet hygiene—wash and dry your feet thoroughly, and apply moisturiser every day8
How to care for your feet – some simple steps
A simple maintenance routine can help look after the skin on your feet, this may include:8,9
- Daily care: Wash and dry your feet thoroughly and apply moisturiser every day
- Footwear: Ensure that your shoes fit properly (both in width and length) and are appropriate for your activity
- Appearance: Check the appearance of your feet regularly for any changes
- Movement and flexibility: Check that you can move your feet easily, without discomfort; some simple stretches may help
- Referral: Speak with your GP, pharmacist, or podiatrist if you have any concerns about your foot health