Behold Grossfoot!
July 19, 2010 1:02 PM   Subscribe

How can I pamper my feet? Years of hiking, dancing, running, and a general dislike of socks have turned my feet into a disaster area. Dry, flaky patches, huge callouses, cracked nails, a planar wart. Nothing super-painful, just kinda gross. Short of going to a Podiatrist, what can I do so I can show my feet in public?

FYI - Dude. late 20s.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
A good pedicure can make your feel look much better. You're a dude, and this is a normal thing for dudes.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 1:10 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

For an As Seen On TV product, the Ped Egg actually works pretty well on callouses.
posted by illenion at 1:11 PM on July 19, 2010

When I used to do martial arts and other activities, I had similar issues, chiefly corns upon corns and other problems I never went to a doctor for. I found using a foot bath (not necessarily that model, but a product like that) along with some foot-soap treatment stuff softened up my feet nicely. I'm not sure if this is doctor recommended, but I'd then use a nail file to scrape off the nastiness, with great success. It helped out my nasty feet a lot. I performed this ritual a couple times a week.
posted by jmd82 at 1:13 PM on July 19, 2010

Honestly, go somewhere nice (i.e. not some place in a strip mall called FANCY NAIL) and get a pedicure. I've had maybe 4 or 5 pedicures my entire life, and every time I've gone I've seen a dude in there, too.

They'll take this crazy cheese-slicer looking thing and peel big, gross sheets of dead foot off, which will soften everything up nicely. (And don't feel self-conscious about the state of your feet--everyone has weird feet. They'll probably have to spend a long time on you, though, so tip well.)

After the initial dead skin removal, you can start to take better care of your feet yourself (rubbing thick cream into them every day, trimming the toenails properly, etc). It will really help you to get a professional jump start on treating your feet nicely.

Cracked toenails, however, could be the sign of fungus or other underlying foot health problems, so you should also consider going to a podiatrist.
posted by phunniemee at 1:14 PM on July 19, 2010

This is for dry, calloused feet. Can't help with the plantar wart (see a doc?)

Step 1. Buy a footbath, a foot file, and some lotion.
Step 2. Soak feet in the footbath.
Step 3. Use the foot file to work on the calloused bits. Don't do too much at once. The smoother side actually works better than the coarser side, in my opinion.
Step 4. Put lotion on your feet.

Repeat Steps 1-4 once a week.
posted by cabingirl at 1:15 PM on July 19, 2010

In their defense, those strip mall places called FANCY NAIL can be awesome for the price.

But wherever you go -- if your feet are truly gross, please tip extravagantly.
posted by kestrel251 at 1:18 PM on July 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Seconding cabingirl. I thought my feet were beyond repair. I did steps #1-4 once a week for three weeks and it made a HUGE difference. Also, be sure to clean under your toenails, clip the toenails, and clean up the cuticles with a cuticle eraser stick. Much easier than a cuticle trimmer.
posted by Yoshimi Battles at 1:22 PM on July 19, 2010

kestrel251: I wasn't trying to disparage FANCY NAIL (as that's the kind of place I go if I decide I want someone else to do file and paint my nails). Since the OP will probably require the heavy artillery, it's a better idea to go somewhere that spends more time on cleanliness and disinfecting.

If you want to save the bucks, OP, you can always venture into the cheap places and give a good look around. You want to see people scrubbing the pedicure footbaths between customers and an autoclave in the corner.
posted by phunniemee at 1:26 PM on July 19, 2010

If the foot baths seem like too much and you're OK sleeping with socks on, you can get something like a simple foot care kit, including lotion, scrubbing tool, and socks. Wash, scrub and lotion your feet, then put on the socks and sleep. Your feet will stay warm and the lotion will stay on.

Also, I find that my feet are pretty pliable after showers, so I've taken to doing minor foot care then.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:27 PM on July 19, 2010

Seconding tipping well anywhere that you get an inexpensive pedicure - there are some places around here that will soak, wash and massage your feet and legs for less than $10. Also, if you haven't been to a pedicure place before, you may want to walk by and see how it smells - some of the polishes can make the small stores pretty pungent in a chemical-smell sort of way. You'll be in there for 10 to 20 minutes, and it might get annoying.

And if you feel odd going by your (manly) self, find a lady friend to go with. Otherwise, bring a book, as the magazines might not be to your taste, and you might run out of small chat with the person taking care of your feet.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:33 PM on July 19, 2010

Yes, a pedicure is good for dudes (my dad loves it, and he is sooooo not a foof person). In between, one cheap product that really works well is this, which I usually get at the natural food store. It looks like it's for old ladies, but it works fantastically in 10 minutes and doesn't smell flowery. You can use a dish bucket and some fine-grit sandpaper :D

Sephora has a lot of cool tools, so you might go check them out (after pre-shopping online). They have this foot file called Pedro that doesn't look girly and has a nice handle and will last forever. The key is actually the finer-grit side; I find that when I'm using the stuff I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I get more off (and more smoothly) with the fine stuff than the rough stuff.

Ped Eggs do work, but oh man can they get stinky. Plus they don't give you that super-smooth finish like the finer grit.
posted by Madamina at 1:49 PM on July 19, 2010

I gotta say, Ped Eggs make a huge difference on my husband's (hiker, cyclist, disaster) feet. It doesn't make them good by any means, but it makes them way less bad. In particular, he has a tendency to get horrible fissures in his callouses that spread and bleed; by keeping the callous sanded down, he can avoid the cracks.

I had plantar warts for ages, and they really hurt. OTC and freezing treatments were unsuccessful, and I had to have them cut out. That sucked, but they haven't come back. Try OTC stuff first, but if that doesn't work, you may well need a podiatrist.
posted by KathrynT at 2:04 PM on July 19, 2010

Home pedicures are great once you have some idea of what it's like to have nice feet. Go to a pedicure place, bring a magazine, and enjoy. Plan to go a few times over the next few months.

Also, at night, clean your feet, smear vaseline or bag balm all over them and especially on the cracked parts, and then pull on some cotton socks.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:08 PM on July 19, 2010

My feet were brutal for a bit from training martial arts bare foot. I used a product called Flexitol that really helped with the thick dried skin.
posted by jade east at 2:23 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lots of good advice above about general foot care, so I thought I'd chime in about the plantar's wart. I had one on the bottom of my foot for years, and nothing much worked, including the expensive freeze-off sticks. What finally did work was taking those heavy-duty stick-on wart patches by Dr. Scholl's and cutting them down to exactly the size of the wart. Place it on top, then put the sticky part of a heavy-duty bandage on top of that (I love Band-Aid Tough Strips, they stay on for days.) I'd usually cut it so that I had a 1-inch strip of bandage and made sure it was pressed really firmly all around the wart patch so it didn't move. Leave it on for as long as it stayed sticky--usually 2-3 days at a time. Once it comes unstuck, remove it, and check out the wart: there will probably be lots of dead skin around the area where the wart patch has been. Clean it up with a special set of nail tools that you don't use for anything else (since you don't want to transmit the wart virus and give yourself more warts inadvertently!) and remove all the dead skin you can. Apply a fresh wart patch, fresh bandage, and repeat. I think it took about 2 months but this method really worked and, aside from occasional soreness, was pretty painless.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 2:29 PM on July 19, 2010

I've spent anywhere from $150 to $12 on pedicures (yes, I used to have a job!) and you know what? Those nice ladies on Avenue A always hooked me up for the best at the low end. Go every week. A majority of your issues will be fixed. I am also a "dude," FYI.

Also? Socks, buddy. Put some socks on. Also? INVISIBLE SOCKS. That way I can wear my boat shoes and whatnot and look like I'm sockless and yet not develop athlete's foot, ta da!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:46 PM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Please don't go for a pedicure until your plantar warts are sorted out. They're contagious, and you can pass them on to others if the pedicure footbaths are not properly treated with disinfectants after use, which would suck.

Anyway, Bliss has these awesome magical socks that you can wear for like, half an hour, and they'll soften up all the crusty armadillo-shell areas of your feet, which can later be PedEgg'd to oblivion.
posted by elizardbits at 3:23 PM on July 19, 2010

One more dude-vote for a pedicure. I had my first one after I started doing yoga, and I don't think my face had ever been so close to my feet since I was in the womb. I'd look at my toes and think, 'you guys are gross, and need professional help.'

After the pedicure, I thought, 'I could've done that myself.' But of course I didn't, and so now end up going about once or twice a year. I kind of view it like going to the dentist for a cleaning. It's not fun (at least for me it ain't - I know some women who love it), but it's needed sometimes.
posted by kanewai at 3:41 PM on July 19, 2010

Here are the practices that cured my feet after a couple of decades of being barefoot on hot cement compounded by stand-up jobs in bad shoes:

1. Soak: As shown above, you can do this a million ways. The easiest? Let your tub gather water as you shower. If you want, you can even put in something like Johnson's Foot Soap - this stuff is amazing at cleaning out the grout and softening up calluses.
2. Scrub: Wash daily with preferred soap and washcloth or gentle scrubber; scrub zealously at least once weekly. These are the gentlest of the pumice-type scrubbers (best for getting dead skin off and otherwise polishing l'tootsies without undue abrasion) and can be used daily as long as you've a gentle hand (important since you're dealing with cracks).
3. Preen: Use a cuticle pusher to push back the cuticle that grows beyond the nail bed (lessens hang nails) and a nail cleaner (remove undernail gunk) (metal, orange stick), then clip (way easier after soaking).
4. Dry: Put that towel in between every toe and along every angle until the foot is completely dry.
5. Pamper and protect: If you're headed out to do sweaty things, use a powder (especially if you get the itchies/stinkies) or cooling gel (soothing and protective). Just getting home? Peppermint lotion. Settling in for the night? Strong unguents (more, more, more) applied then covered with socks will make your feet feel like silk and keep the skin healthier regardless of abuse.

This is what it looks like incorporated into your routine:
Weekly - soak, pumice, preen, unguents.
Daily - wash, dry, powder/gel before heading out, then wash, dry, peppermint when coming in.

And I'm with everyone else on not being afraid of getting a pedicure. Heaven, if you can afford it. Just make sure they have good safety and hygiene and aren't over-exuberant about cuticle trimming, planing, or filing (all recipes for infection).

Yay for happy feet!
posted by batmonkey at 4:05 PM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Go buy some exfoliating mositurizer with 25% Urea. This is the all important active ingredients. Brand names are Flexitol and Kerasal but generics and own brands are just as good as long as they have the Urea. These work in a way regular moisturizers will not and they act fast. It took less than a week to sort out my cracked heels recently.
posted by tallus at 6:30 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I absolutely second the Kerasal (or generic equivalent) recommendation plus a pair of socks overnight. Urea plus salicylic acid is your friend. Way more potent on dry skin than Vaseline alone.

Pedicures are great for a few days, but you need to keep up the moisturizing on your own.
posted by chummie26 at 7:22 PM on July 19, 2010

this stuff plus a ped-egg-type thing changed my husband's feet from cracked and bleeding and horrifying to limbs I will actually touch.
posted by freshwater at 7:26 PM on July 19, 2010

These gel-sleeves are really nice for cracked heels.
posted by Sara Anne at 7:30 PM on July 19, 2010

Castor oil plus socks, overnight. Bonus: it might also remove your wart.
posted by littlegreenlights at 8:23 PM on July 19, 2010

3rding cream with 25% Urea. Flexitol has a horrible medicinal smell though. See if you can find a product called Du'It Foot and Heel Balm Plus (made in Australia).
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:35 PM on July 19, 2010

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