Peeling skin is a condition in which the top layer of your skin is damaged and lost – in other words, it peels off. While this can happen anywhere on the body, skin peeling on the feet is particularly common. There are a variety of reasons why foot skin peeling can happen, most of which are easily treatable.
This article covers some of the most frequent causes of peeling skin on toes and feet, as well as symptoms to look out for and treatment options. It also discusses home remedies for flaky foot skin, plus top tips for preventing the problem and maintaining soft feet.
Symptoms of peeling feet
There are many different symptoms you might experience if you have peeling skin on your feet. They will vary according to the specific cause of your flaky feet and also the severity of the condition. For example, you might suffer from:
- Crusty feet
- Rough skin
- Discolouration (such as redness, hard yellow skin on feet, or white rough patches on the skin)
- Painful or sore hard skin on the foot
- Cracked skin
- Dry skin
- Hardened skin
You may find that the problem only affects a small area, for instance, just having one scaly toe, or it could be more widespread and cause dry, scaly skin on the legs.
Causes of skin peeling on feet
The skin on our feet goes through a lot every day as we stand, walk and run around. Our shoes and socks can rub against the skin, and we often don’t take care of our feet as carefully as we should. As such, it’s not unusual to suffer from peeling or flaky skin on the feet. Aside from this general wear and tear, there are several more specific possible causes of skin peeling on feet. They include the following:
Dry rough skin is a common foot complaint and can be the result of everything from not moisturising your feet to wearing ill-fitting shoes, dehydration, and cold or dry weather conditions. If left untreated, your feet can become so dry that the skin cracks and your feet peel. Irritation of the area, for example, by continuing to wear shoes that rub, can also cause dry, scaly feet to peel.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that can result in rashes anywhere on the body, including the feet. It usually results in red and itchy skin but can also cause rough, dry patches on skin and peeling. Therefore, if you suffer from eczema, you might experience skin peeling between toes or skin peeling off the bottom of your feet. The condition can normally be treated with medication.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes an overgrowth of skin cells. This can manifest as scaly skin on the feet and elsewhere across the body, which looks red and silvery. These patches may sometimes crack and bleed and also result in dry, peeling skin on the feet. The disease can normally be treated with medication.
Corns and calluses
Calluses are sections of hard skin that thicken as a result of friction or pressure, for example, due to your shoes rubbing against your feet. Meanwhile, soft, seed, and hard corns are calluses made of dead skin. It’s possible for both types to crack open or peel, so peeling calluses and corns might be the reason for you having dry, flaky skin on the feet if you’ve noticed a callus outside the big toe or elsewhere. Calluses can form anywhere on the body and, in fact, are a common cause of hard skin on hands and hard skin on finger joints too.
A blister is a small pocket of fluid that arises as a result of something rubbing against the skin. If they crack or pop as a result of further friction, this can be a reason for skin peeling on the feet. Although generally harmless, popping a blister might be painful and result in bleeding. It also increases the risk of infection. Blisters can occur anywhere on the foot, resulting in soles, heels, or toes peeling. The best course of treatment is not to pop your blister but instead cover it with a special blister plaster and allow it to go away by itself.
Athlete’s foot is a contagious infection that can result in fungal, flaky skin on feet. It can affect one foot or both and causes symptoms such as flaky skin between toes, skin on the bottom of feet peeling, an itchy red rash, raw skin, burning or stinging feet, and thick, crumbly and discoloured toenails. Having hard skin under the toenail can also be a sign of this and other kinds of fungal infection. These types of conditions can normally be treated with anti-fungal medication.
If you spend too much time in the sun barefoot, you may suffer from sunburn on your feet. This normally results in the affected area becoming red and painful. After a few days, you might notice your foot peel, which is the body’s way of healing itself by getting rid of the damaged skin. For example, you might notice your big toe peeling in strips or peeling patches on the top of the foot, depending on exactly where the sunburn is. Using aftersun or aloe vera lotion to cool and moisturise the skin can help relieve pain and speed up healing.
Also known as immersion foot syndrome, trench foot is a serious medical condition that is caused by your feet being wet for too long. This could be from literally being in water or from wearing wet socks or shoes. The initial symptoms include pale blotchy skin, tingling, pain, and itchiness, but if left untreated, the skin can also start to die and peel off. Trench foot can lead to serious complications, so if you often find yourself in wet conditions and notice symptoms such as peeling skin on the soles of feet or skin peeling between toes, it’s best to contact your doctor.
Foot health concerns related to diabetes
Having diabetes puts you at greater risk of foot problems as a result of the nerve damage and reduction in blood flow that high blood sugar levels can cause. If you are diabetic and notice any change or damage to your feet – whether it’s hard skin around toenails, rough and bumpy skin, the soles of feet peeling, or hard skin on top of the foot – book a doctor’s appointment right away. They will be able to diagnose the issue and recommend a DIY foot peel or another type of hard skin and callus remover that’s suitable for you.
There are certain lifestyle factors that may make you more prone to experiencing skin peeling on feet. For example:
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly can mean that the material rubs against your skin. This, in turn, may cause skin peeling on toes or hard skin on feet that cracks and peels. Shoes with tall, thin heels are particularly likely to result in hard skin on the heel due to the extra pressure
- With peeling skin on hands and feet, vitamin deficiency is a possible issue. A lack of vitamin E can result in dry, flaky skin on toes and other parts of the feet, while you need vitamin C to help your skin retain moisture
- Spending a lot of time on your feet can result in dry hard skin on the feet, which is then more susceptible to cracking and peeling
- Walking around outside with no shoes on can result in hard skin on the sole of the foot, as the body tries to protect itself from injury. Over time this may then progress to peeling skin soles of feet
Treatment for skin peeling on feet
The best way to stop your hands and feet peeling will depend on the specific cause of your condition. If you have painful hard skin on the foot or other symptoms which are severe, it’s best to ask a medical professional about hard skin on the ball of foot removal or options for hard skin between toes treatment. This is especially true if you have an underlying health condition such as diabetes because home remedies might not be suitable for you.
Some of the medical peeling skin on the bottom of feet treatments a doctor or podiatrist might recommend include:
- Using an Exfoliating Sock such as Footner to peel away unwanted skin
- Anti-fungal medications for athlete’s foot and similar conditions
- Painkillers to manage painful hard skin on feet while dealing with the underlying cause
- Antibiotics if you have an infected blister or similar condition
- Topical creams and lotions for conditions such as eczema
- Corn or callus big toe removal if they don’t go away with home remedies
- If you have painful hard skin on the bottom of the foot or hard skin on heels causing pain and it doesn’t get better with home remedies, you can get prescription medication to soften the skin or have a professional conduct surgical hard skin on foot removal
Remedies for skin peeling on feet
There are several methods you can try to remove hard skin on your feet at home or deal with dry, flaky feet by yourself. Some of the most effective are:
- Using Footner exfoliating socks for foot smoothing and getting rid of rough, bumpy skin
- Soaking your feet in warm water and using a pumice stone or similar professional hard skin remover to gently get rid of calluses, reduce hard skin on the ball of the foot, or remove hard skin from heels
- Trying Epsom foot scrubs and soaks to help remove dead skin from feet naturally
- Moisturising your feet daily to hydrate and soften painful hard skin on the ball of the foot and elsewhere. Wearing socks after applying the cream can help to keep the product in place and tackle the hard skin on the foot more effectively
- Using a chemical foot peel or acid foot peel
- Covering up blisters with special cushioned plasters
- Avoiding wearing shoes that aggravate the issue, for example, by rubbing against hard skin on the big toe
- Keeping your feet clean and dry, and being gentle but thorough when washing them
There isn’t necessarily one best way to remove hard skin from feet for everyone, so try out a few different hard skin removal methods and see which work best for your specific condition. Having said that, as a general rule, it’s preferable to opt for the best foot peel rather than a cheap Poundland foot peel if you want top results!
Preventing skin peeling off feet
Ideally, you want to avoid having skin peeling on your feet at all, so it’s a sensible idea to practice good foot care at all times – not just when you notice skin peeling between toes or hard skin underfoot.
Try the following top tips:
- Always wear shoes that fit you properly and that are comfortable and supportive
- Wash your feet carefully, and use a moisturiser on them every day
- Use Footner exfoliating socks or other feet exfoliation products to ensure you always have smooth feet
- As soon as you notice a little bit of hard skin on the toe or hard skin on the bottom of your foot, do a hard skin foot peel or use a pedicure hard skin remover tool – before it becomes a bigger problem or you have skin peeling on feet
- Don’t walk outside barefoot too much, as this can damage the skin and result in thick hard skin under the toe and on the sole of the foot
Peeling Feet FAQs
Why are the bottoms of my feet peeling?
There are many different reasons why the bottom of your feet might be peeling thick skin, including dry skin, skin conditions such as athlete’s foot, hard skin on the side of big toe developing into a callus, underlying health conditions such as diabetes, and even problems with the shoes you wear.
How do I get rid of peeling skin on my feet?
The best way to treat skin peeling on feet will depend on the specific cause. For example, you could try getting rid of dead skin on your feet by using Footner exfoliating socks, moisturising daily as a foot treatment for hard skin, and ensuring that you wear cushioned shoes that fit you well. If you have an underlying skin condition such as eczema or athlete’s foot, you should take medication to treat those and this will help improve your dry, scaly feet.
How do I get rid of hard skin on my feet?
The best way to get rid of hard skin on feet is to use foot exfoliation products such as Footner exfoliating socks or soak your feet in warm water, and then use a foot file for hard skin to gently remove feet hard skin and calluses. You can also try searching for a hard skin removal pedicure near me and enjoy a little pampering at the same time! Of course, the truly best thing for hard skin on your feet is to not get it in the first place, so take care of your feet by practising good foot hygiene and not walking around outside barefoot.
When should I see a doctor about skin peeling on feet?
Firstly, with the bottom of the feet peeling, diabetes is a key concern, so you should definitely see a doctor if you’re diabetic and have any issues with your feet. Secondly, if your hard skin on foot hurts, or you have other severe symptoms, then it’s best to seek medical attention. These include fever, swelling, or an inability to carry out daily tasks. Similarly, if the hard skin on your feet keeps coming back or dead skin foot removal home remedies aren’t improving your peeling skin, you should book an appointment.
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