How to Get Rid of Dead Dry Skin on Feet

How to Get Rid of Dead Skin on Feet, Dry Feet and Cracked Heels

People of all ages can suffer from cracked heels and dead skin on their feet. Lack of moisture is usually one of the most common reasons for having dead, flaky skin on your feet. This can cause your soles and heels to become rough, itchy, develop red or flaky patches of dead skin, and thicken, thus causing your feet to become cracked.

It’s not just a lack of moisture that can cause dry feet and cracked heels. Podiatrist, Dr. Marc Katz says that using the wrong type of soap, taking excessively hot showers or baths, cold weather and low humidity levels can all cause hard, dead skin to form on your feet and heels. Sometimes underlying health conditions like eczema, diabetes, and psoriasis can make the problem worse.1 Standing for a long time on hard floors, being overweight, or wearing ill-fitting shoes can also cause cracked heels and calluses to form.2

It’s important to keep your feet healthy because they carry you around whenever you walk, stand, or run. Under daily pressures, it is no wonder that your feet can become dry, cracked, and sometimes very painful. However, with the proper care and attention to your feet, you can treat and prevent dead and dry skin cells from developing on your feet.

The Best Home Remedies for Dead and Dry Skin on Feet

You can use many natural remedies to keep your feet soft and moisturized without any painful cracks. For example, various oils and natural ingredients soften hard, dead skin on your feet making it easier to remove the dry skin cells. Here are some the best natural remedies that will leave your feet feeling smooth, refreshed, and relaxed.

Warm Soak

One of the easiest ways to soften dry, cracked skin on your feet is to soak your feet in warm soapy water. This helps to soften calluses (thickened skin) making it easier to remove the dead skin using a pumice stone. This is what you should do to make a warm foot bath to soak your feet:

  • Fill a bowl with warm soapy water.
  • Soak your feet for 20 – 30 minutes to allow the skin to soften enough.
  • Using a pumice stone, gently scrub away the dead skin cells.
  • Rinse your feet with clean warm water and dry your feet properly.

After the warm soak, you should moisturize your feet with some olive oil or other natural oil to keep the skin on your feet smooth and prevent it from drying out. Repeat this process 2 to 3 times a week until you completely get rid of cracked feet.

Epsom Salt

Using Epsom salt in a warm water foot bath is an excellent natural remedy to heal cracked feet, as well as relaxing your feet and making your skin soft. Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulfate which, according to WebMD, many believe penetrates the skin.3 This helps to remove toxins from the body and maintain healthy skin tissue.

To make an Epsom salt foot bath to get rid of dead skin cells, do the following:

  • Thoroughly wash your feet with mild soap and warm water to remove any dirt and grime.
  • Pat your feet dry with a clean soft towel.
  • Take a basin large enough to comfortably put both feet in.
  • Fill with warm water. There should be enough water so that it reaches your ankles when you put your feet in.
  • Add around ½ cup of Epsom salt to the water.
  • Soak your feet for 10 – 15 minutes until they are softened.
  • Mix some Epsom salt with just enough water to form a paste and exfoliate each foot with the mixture to remove any dead skin cells and flaky skin.
  • Put your feet back into the basin to remove off excess Epsom salt.
  • Using a pumice stone (or loofah or soft foot brush), gently scrub the thickened skin on your heels to remove any dead skin.
  • Rinse your feet in warm, clean water and dry thoroughly.
  • Use a light, natural moisturizer or a small amount of olive oil to keep your skin feeling soft and protected.

Repeat the Epsom salt foot bath 2 to 3 times a week until you no longer have cracked heels or dead, flaky skin on your feet.

Please read my article about Epsom salt baths and foot soaks if you are interested to find out more recipes as well as the benefits of using Epsom salt in your bath or foot soak.

Coconut Oil

Virgin coconut oil helps to treat and prevent cracked feet because of its moisturizing properties. It also contains antibacterial and antifungal compounds which can kill off common foot infections.

The journal Dermatitis showed that virgin coconut oil is an effective moisturizer to treat dry, rough, scaly, and itchy skin.4 Other studies have shown that coconut oil can destroy the bacteria that cause infections5 and give relief from itchy skin.6 If you have painful cracks on your heels that bleed, coconut oil is the perfect home remedy to treat your condition and get instant relief.

To use coconut oil to soften dead skin cells and get rid of cracked feet, you should apply virgin coconut oil directly to the affected area before going to bed. Massage a liberal amount of coconut oil into the hard skin for 2 to 3 minutes until the skin softens and doesn’t crack anymore. Put on some clean, cotton socks and then wash your feet in the morning.

Apply the coconut oil regularly to keep the skin on your feet moisturized properly and to prevent a buildup of dry, dead skin cells. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil will also help to keep your feet smelling fresh and free of infections like athlete’s foot.

You can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil before massaging into cracked feet. Lavender oil helps to moisturize the skin and provides a lovely fragrance for your feet.

There are many other ways to use coconut oil that you can read about on this website.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is another great natural remedy to get rid of dry, flaky skin from your feet. Lemon juice contains a high amount of citric acid and, according to podiatrist, Dr. Marc Katz the lemon juice helps to dissolve dead and dry skin for easier removal.1

To use lemon juice to loosen dead skin cells, do the following:

  • Put equal amounts of warm water and lemon juice into a bowl which is big enough to comfortably place both feet in. There should be enough of the water and lemon mixture to at least cover your heels.
  • Let your feet soak for 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Use a pumice stone or pedicure foot file to loosen dead and flaky skin from your feet and heels.
  • Rinse your feet in warm water and dry thoroughly.

Lemon juice can dry your skin, so always make sure and moisturize well with coconut oil or olive oil to prevent your feet from drying out even more.


One way to moisturize your feet and treat dry, dead skin cells is to use glycerin. Glycerin is an organic compound and its common sources are animal fat or vegetable oil. Glycerin is highly hygroscopic which means that it absorbs water from the air. It is able to lock in moisture into the skin and prevent your feet from drying out and becoming flaky. According to WebMD, glycerin can help to prevent and treat dry, rough, scaly, and itchy skin.7 In fact, studies into the effectiveness of glycerin as a moisturizer found that it is very effective in treating dry skin issues.8

You can make your own glycerin and lemon juice topical application to soften dry and hard skin on your feet. The glycerin locks in moisture making your skin softer and the lemon juice helps to dissolve dead skin cells.

  • Mix 1 tbsp. glycerin and 1 tbsp. lemon juice in a small bowl.
  • Apply the mixture to your feet and leave for 20 minutes.
  • Wash off with clean warm water and pat your feet dry with a clean towel.

Apply the glycerin and lemon juice mixture to your feet every day for about 2 weeks to treat the symptoms of cracked feet.


Similar to lemon juice, the acidic properties in vinegar can help to dissolve dead skin cells on your feet and help your feet to feel smooth. Added to that, vinegar also contains antibacterial properties which can help kill off foot infections and eliminate any foot odor.

To help get rid of dead, flaky skin on your feet mix 1 part vinegar to 2 parts warm water in a large basin. Soak your feet for 20 minutes then pat dry. Repeat this once or twice a week until your symptoms have gone completely.


Honey is an amazing home remedy for many skin issues, including healing dry and cracked feet. Like glycerin, it has hygroscopic properties which help moisturize the rough skin on the foot. You can use honey as part of a soothing foot bath to soften dry skin and loosen dead skin cells or you can apply honey directly to cracked heels to get instant relief from the discomfort and pain that they cause.

Applying honey to cracked feet can also help you treat and prevent any infection from developing in the broken skin. A study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics showed that honey is rich in antimicrobial properties and can help to quickly clear infections in skin wounds.9

To help remove dead skin cells from your feet and soften cracked feet, you can make a honey foot bath by dissolving a few tablespoons of honey in a large basin of warm water. Soak your feet in the water for 20 minutes then gently dry them.

If you suffer from severely cracked heels, you should massage liberal amounts of honey into the affected area. Put on some clean socks and let the honey go to work to soften the dead skin on your heels. After a few hours, remove your socks and rinse your feet with warm water.


To get a relief from rough, itchy and dry feet you can use oatmeal to moisturize your feet and reduce the discomfort caused by itchiness.

A study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that oatmeal is an effective way to combat dryness of the skin, reduce scaling, and alleviate itching. At the same time, oatmeal also cleanses the skin meaning that you don’t have to use harsh soaps which can dry out your feet even more.10

If you want to use oatmeal to soften cracked feet, please follow this recipe:

  • In a large basin, put enough warm water to cover your feet.
  • Stir in one cup of oatmeal and mix well.
  • Let your feet soak for 30 minutes until they are soft and refreshed.
  • Rinse in clean warm water and dry thoroughly.

You can also use the oatmeal from your footbath as a natural foot scrub to loosen dead skin cells and get rid of cracked skin. All you have to do is, while your feet are soaking, take some of the oatmeal mixture in your hand and gently exfoliate your feet to remove the dead skin cells from your feet.

Oatmeal is also one of the best home remedies to treat dry peeling skin on hands or fingers.

How to Prevent Dry Feet and Cracked Heels

There are also many practical ways to prevent your feet from becoming dry and cracked. Of course, if you regularly use the natural remedies for cracked feet in this article, you will prevent dead, flaky skin from developing on your feet. However, Dr. Marc Katz recommends the following to prevent dry feet:1

  • Avoid harsh soaps and bubble baths which can dry out the skin.
  • Don’t use very hot water to wash your feet because that can contribute to dry feet.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that allow your feet to breathe.
  • Keep the temperature of your home at a comfortable level and use a humidifier if you have dry air in your home.
  • Avoid saunas and steam baths if possible.

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Article Sources

Healthy and Natural World