Every spring, at the first hint of warmer weather, we all jump at the chance to bust out shorts and flip-flops—which means it’s time to prep our feet for summer. Often, though, our dry, cracked feet aren’t quite ready to make a reappearance after months of being cooped up.
Since the air is dry in colder months, it’s normal that your feet follow suit. “As the skin on the feet loses moisture, they can become dry, cracked, and painful, often as a result of outdoor temperatures, as well as indoor heating,” says Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York City. “Additionally, during the months when it’s not sandal season, people often neglect their feet and forget to apply moisturizing creams or exfoliating products, which may lead to dryness and a buildup of dead skin.”
The good news: There are a plethora of skin-saving solutions that work well on dry, cracked feet with enough time to spare before summer’s arrival. Here are expert-approved solutions for prepping your feet for warmer weather.
1. Avoid long, hot showers
Steaming-hot water can exacerbate dry skin on your face, body, and feet, warns Vivek Cherian, M.D., a Baltimore-based internal medicine physician. Stick to warm water to help protect the skin barrier and avoid drawing out too much moisture.
2. Exfoliate regularly
Just as you exfoliate your face, it’s equally important to exfoliate your feet, helping rid the skin of dead cells and leaving it feeling smooth.
To physically exfoliate, Garshick recommends using a pumice stone, which manually sloughs off dead skin. “When using a pumice stone, it is important to wet both the stone and your feet, and apply the stone after the feet have soaked to make sure it glides easily and gently eliminates the dead skin,” she says. “Getting rid of the dead skin is important, as it allows the moisturizers to penetrate better. However, it is important to avoid aggressive scrubbing of the feet to reduce the chance of excessive irritation.”
3. Apply a moisturizer formulated for feet
Lucky for your feet, there are plenty of over-the-counter moisturizers formulated to break down those stubborn calluses and dry skin. “Applying moisturizers can help support the skin barrier and prevent water loss, reducing roughness and leaving the skin feeling soft and smooth,” says Garshick. “This can include products with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which act as humectants to draw moisture in and ceramides to help support the skin barrier.”
Try Uncle Bud’s CBD Hand & Foot Cream, which contains glycerin and CBD to soothe, nourish, and soften dry feet.
4. Wear socks after moisturizing
If your skin is very dry, Garshick recommends wearing plastic wrap or socks after moisturizing to help the product really sink in and prep your feet for summer. “For individuals with dryness, this helps to lock in moisture, leaving the skin soft and smooth,” she says.
5. Try a foot peel
In addition to physically exfoliating, you can also opt for topical chemical exfoliants, which help break up the bonds between skin cells to help eliminate rough dead skin. Just note that if you tend to have a lot of cracks or fissures on your feet, these types of products might not be best, as they can make the fissures and cracks worse and can burn and be painful, says Boston-based dermatologist Papri Sarkar, M.D.
6. Wear cushion socks regularly
When walking around your home, yoga studio, or anywhere else you would normally walk barefoot, wear cushioned socks, recommends podiatrist Suzanne Fuchs, D.P.M., foot and ankle specialist at LuxePodiatry. “These will help prevent heels and feet from drying out, add grip for better foot posture, and decrease pressure and friction on the skin,” she says.
When To See A Doctor
If your feet become cracked and dry despite your attempts to moisturize, you could be dealing with an underlying condition, such as eczema or psoriasis, according to Garshick. “Oftentimes, flare-ups of these conditions occur during the winter months, which can contribute to worsening dryness, redness, itching, or cracking of the feet,” she says. “There are specific treatments that can be used to address this, so it is best to see a board-certified dermatologist.”