Help! I have hobbit feet!
July 30, 2013 2:30 AM   Subscribe

My feet are, frankly, gross. What can I do at home to make them less gross?

The reason why I am specifically asking for home treatments is because a) I believe pedicurists will do some filing and softening (and as I'm dyspraxic getting someone else to cut my toenails so it doesn't hurt/bleed is quite appealing) but I actually don't think it's fair to expect a stranger to deal with them in their current state b) I'm in the UK, where referrals to more specialist healthcare people happen through your GP, and I'm not sure what's going on is a medical problem - and if it was, I'd have to wait a good long time to be seen.

OK. So I have horrid hard dead skin all over my feet, skin that's kind of thick and yellowy. When I had to wear nylon/acrylic kneesocks as part of my school uniform, my feet would get so sore and blistered that I'd end up having to cut off the dead skin on the balls of my feet with scissors. Now I wear cotton socks (except for tights) and rarely wear high heels, so my feet shouldn't be as bad as they are, but they look like I've been running barefoot through the Amazon, and wearing Birkenstocks can feel a bit sore, especially if I am walking a lot that day.

At the moment I have this foot file and this cream (which I got as a free sample - it's well expensive) but although I can see the flaky skin coming off, it doesn't seem to be having a strong effect. I'm not sure if I need to use something more aggressive or more moisturising - my feet are so dry and dead-skinned that I can feel them catching on our rug.

Any suggestions?
posted by mippy to Health & Fitness (48 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
If you're looking for something immediate, I have found Lush's volcano foot mask to be great. Put it on, wrap your feet in cling film, wait 10 minutes and start pumicing it off. Also putting cream on your feet at night and then sleeping in socks helps with moisturizing a fair bit.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:43 AM on July 30, 2013

I think your issue fits into one of three camps:

- Go to your GP and ask for a referral to an NHS podiatrist.
- Go private.
- Get a pedicure.

The best person to answer whether you have a problem which is medical is your doctor. If you don't want to do that then go private. To me, the least best option is to get a pedicure. In any case, in each of these three options, you can guarantee they will have seen worse than your feet. But, bless the NHS, a GP visit is free so there isn't much to lose by going down that route first.

It sounds to me like you do have a medical issue and that your problems are exactly what a podiatrist is for. People tend to feel like feet issues are not "proper" medical problems but they are, and they especially are if you're experiencing pain or discomfort - just as you would go see a medical professional if you had a rash. If the wait is too long, an initial consultation in London should be about £40-£60 if you go private.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:44 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

There is nothing that you have which health professionals have not seen a thousand times. You cannot shock them; the whole point of their profession is to help people like you.

As regards foot cream, I am neither a podiatrist or Your Podiatrist, but I suspect that what you need is a foot cream with a lot of urea in it - your pharmacist will be able to advise an over-the-counter product, like this one. Rub it in generously in the evening; put clingfilm or a plastic bag over it if you can bear the feeling, cover with a pair of socks and go to bed. Wash it off in the morning and put a less-generous layer on. Wash your feet again each evening. The dead skin will just start ooshing off and you should get very good results within a week.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:52 AM on July 30, 2013

Response by poster: as you would go see a medical professional if you had a rash.

As someone who gets eczema, you'd be surprised how rubbish GPs can do with skin conditions. It's not their fault - there isn't much that can be done - but I've had my scalp dermatitis, a problem I've had for years and of which I can recognise the symptoms - misdiagnosed as headlice before, thanks to the flakes on my scalp.

I should have said that I got an infection in my heel a year or so ago, where putting any weight on it was like standing on a staple. My GP at the time saw me and prescribed antibiotics, but despite me wondering whether they had got infected thanks to being dry, she didn't feel it necessary to do anything more. That's why I wonder if it's more of an aesthetic issue than a medical one.
posted by mippy at 2:53 AM on July 30, 2013

I've been to a Scholl Footcare Centre before (not this specific one) when I felt my feet were beyond a beauty-type pedicure, but not worth a trip to the GP. They should be able to file down the hard skin much more effectively than you trying to do it with a shop-bought file, and they might also be able to tell you if you have any medical issues or if its just a superficial problem. When you're using moisturiser now you're essentially applying it to dead skin, so I don't think that will do much good until it is removed as much as possible.
posted by billiebee at 3:07 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's this thing you can do in asian spas where they have fish that literally eat the dead skin from your feet.
posted by empath at 3:10 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Fish Spas were a big craze here a couple of years ago, but I think the recession killed them off. (The spas, not the fish, I hope.)
posted by mippy at 3:15 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

You should at least get it checked out by your GP (or pharmacist but if its been going on for years there may not be much you can do without prescription). My mum had disgusting feet and toes for decades, thick yellow skin and really mangled looking toes. She went to the doctor for an unrelated foot problem and they mentioned the state of her feet and said she had a fungal infection. They gave her some pills and it cleared right up, now she has fairly normal feet. I can't remember if it was here GP or Podiatrist that made the diagnosis (she had a lot of unrelated foot/knee trouble so I don't remember which doctor in the string of referrals actually mentioned it)
posted by missmagenta at 3:17 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, those flesh-eating fish are a scam, or at least the ones in Bali are. They might be doing something, but they're not going to get rid of really thick dead skin.

What does work is a pedicure using those metal cheese-grater-y foot files; not the fine-mesh ones, but the ones that are kind of like a blade. (Gross, I know.) Unfortunately, the only place I've had a really thorough one is Indonesia.
posted by Salamander at 3:19 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd never had a pedicure of any description until I went on holiday to Thailand recently and my massage lady insisted on getting the dead skin off my feet.

Never having had anyone else do it for me, seems I was wildly underestimating how much effort I should use in order to file off dead skin. It took well over an hour and hoo boy did she go to town. She used the coarse side of a smoothing file like this one and didn't press hard, just a lot of vigorous back and forth rubbing. When I got home I threw away my metal foot file and got one of those gritty ones and now spend much more time and effort on the whole process.

There seem to be three types of foot creams, the super moisturising stuff, the faux-exfoliators which are just moisturisers with rough bits and then there are the chemical exfoliators. You probably want to try and find the last type, the chemicals to look for in the ingredients list are the same as for facial skincare - AHAs (glycolic, lactic and fruit acids) and BHAs (salicylic acid).
posted by Ness at 3:20 AM on July 30, 2013

It doesn't sound to me as if you have a current medical issue, it just sounds like you have really calloused feet to me. That's a normal human condition not a medical problem.

If you think they're too gross for a pedicure, then try the Lush product or a Scholl centre, followed up by a pedicure later. But I have to tell you, I recently had a pedicure date with a friend of mine; he'd never had a pedicure before and had sort of gross Man Feet and they didn't bat an eyelash. I mean, you're talking about aestheticians, who will wax the hair off your arse; as a rule, they've seen it all and are bothered by none of it.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:21 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Actually, I'd find the most traditional, Asian-run nail salon around. Phone them up and tell them you want a really really thorough spa pedi...sans polish. Soak your feet in warm water the night before, clean them up as much as you can with a nail brush, and put a thick layer of Vaseline on, then sleep in cotton socks.

Tip big. ;)

If they can't get make a dent in the problem, which I doubt, it's podiatrist time.
posted by Salamander at 3:23 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I found this advice on PinIT, haven't tried it yet (no Listerine, need to buy), but intend to:

Mix 1/4 c Listerine (any kind but I like the blue), 1/4 c vinegar and 1/2 c of warm water. Soak feet for 10 minutes and when you take them out the dead skin will practically wipe off.

What I usually do (and I, too, have really calloused skin on my feet which grows back regularly, I think my feet were made for the jungle or the savannah, not for dainty living) is use the file linked to by Ness - efficient, but really, really hard work, unless you can find a place to sit down really comfortably whilst you do it and take many breaks and eat ice cream when your arms grow tired (and they will...). But when I can stick with it, it's really worth it. I tend to do it when I am solo, watching TV/browsing the web, my feet in a basin of water, big towel next to me, and it's soak, then one foot out, dry and file away, get bored, put foot back in, other foot out, leave it to become normal again since it tends to wrinkle up if kept in water for too long, do something else like play some game or browse or whatever, other foot gets filed, back in water, out, leave, browse etc. etc. until I feel like screaming with boredom).

I much prefer it to the dead-skin blade type of instruments, which I think you need real dexterity for - whenever I use that one, I bleed, or at least get tender spots from cutting too deep, plus my heels end up adorned with weird geometrical designs because you can't help cutting criss-crossing planes.

I also made a great discovery in Bali, this kind of buffer file for nails (they used one which looked like this, but I think it is the same thing). This is also labour intensive, but requires much less force, and is way less messy, so you can easily do it wherever.

As a final thing - also in Bali, they make a dry scrub cream (no need for water), again a bit messy, but really wonderful for upkeep of freshly smooth feet. I think this might be what I mean. Works on the rest of the body, too, is you have the stamina (I don't, beauty stops knee high as far as I am concerned).
posted by miorita at 3:55 AM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Salamander - pedicurists aren't as common here as in the US. I don't know how I'd identify a 'traditional' salon. Nail bars here (at least in London) tend to be focused on nail art and seem to cater mainly to black women for some reason - I don't think the US-style east Asian salons are really a thing here. A couple of people I work with go to a pedicurist, but that's in one of those places where they do facials and massages.
posted by mippy at 3:59 AM on July 30, 2013

A couple of people I work with go to a pedicurist, but that's in one of those places where they do facials and massages.

Yes, that's what we're talking about. Pedicures are part of a standard salon aesthetician training, along with manicures, waxing, etc. While London doesn't have the same tradition of southeast asian nail bars, there are plenty and they all do pedicures routinely.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:21 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ah, sorry mippy - I forgot about that! (I'm in Aus, we don't have a lot here, either.) The standard pedicure they do here involves a cursory scrub and file, but nothing hardcore.

So hey, I'm sitting here waiting for MasterChef to start, and I have a big bottle of Listerine in the cupboard. My feet aren't the best at the moment either, so I'm going to try miorita's idea and report back.

posted by Salamander at 4:29 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm perpetually callused, because I have weird feet and am on them a lot. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to make the calluses go away forever, nor can you turn the callused areas baby-butt soft. However, you can get them noticeably better.

Once every two or three weeks, when my feet feel and look noticeably tough, I'll soak them in warm water for 5-10 minutes and then use my Fot Fil, starting with the coarser grit and finishing with the finer. (I used to use a metal file, but this one is gentler and just as effective.) Soaking is crucial. There is a callus shaver tool that you can use - it holds a little razor and will ruin the way you look at Parmesan - but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're really sure of yourself, because it will cut you if you fuck up. Besides, the file will suffice.

Once all that's done, I usually put on a thick lotion. I don't use anything greasy or foot-specific, and I don't wrap or sleep in socks; others swear by it, but I don't like the feeling and am willing to sacrifice a little bit if softness to skip it.

A pedicure is a good idea, and the facial-and-massage place should do a good job. However, pedicures don't last forever, and the calluses will come back. I'd recommend starting with a pedicure and doing some home maintenance every week or two.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:33 AM on July 30, 2013

Here are a few DIY at home things:

Take a mouthwash/vinegar foot bath (I tried the one miorita posted, soaked for a bit longer, maybe more like 20 minutes and it worked well. But if you have actual open skin/wounds I would dilute it or not use it for now. I believe a mouthwash knock off is fine, as long as it lists alcohol (the original Listerine does) But I am not completely sure if alcohol plays an active part here or not).
This soak will soften all the dead skin a LOT, a lot of the skin rubs off just with the towel. The remaining dead skin is soft enough to come off with a pumice or other foot file.

Push back the cuticles, gently.

Pluck toe hair. (Hobbits have hair on their toes I think)

Clip your nails, as straight (as opposed to curved) as possible.

Apply skin oil or olive oil to your toes around your nails.

Massage a thick cream into the skin of your feet, mostly to the spots that have a lot of calluses (this are the high pressure areas). You can use whatever cream/vaseline you have on hand for now. I would recommend to get one that is pH neutral, with urea, without artificial fragrances when you buy a new one - bonus: they tend to be cheap.
Try to moisturize your feet daily.

All of this above will probably take close to an hour, so it's nice to have a podcast/tv show playing. For upkeep repeat once a month or as often as necessary.

Now I think the podiatrist is a good idea! I went in April this year because I had a grown in toenail. I just made an appointment with them (no GP) and paid about 30.
Here is what happened: sit down on a gyno chair (that was the weirdest part!), foot soak for about 15 minutes, chair goes up (:-( ) lady started the cheese grater like tool and cut off some of the calluses/dead skin. Then she took an electric file tool and run it all over my feet and toes/around nails. Clipped nails. Now comes the part where she fixed my problem, which is not relevant here. Then she used oil for my nails / toes and finished off with a cream. Took all in all maybe 40 minutes. Didn't hurt and chatting was like at a hair salon. They usually treat patients that have problems with their feet due to diabetes and such - they have seen it all. Should it be the case that there is an underlying issue, like fungus, with your feet, they will be able to diagnose and recommend treatment.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:34 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you don't want to go to a traditional spa, are there places offering Hungarian style pedicures in London? I had one in Hungary and it was very much a medical process (which I was warned about) - no filing, no polish - just a lot of scraping and taking away of a lot of dead skin.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:36 AM on July 30, 2013

I had a huge callus in the joint of a big toe that turned out to be a wart.
posted by brujita at 5:24 AM on July 30, 2013

I second the idea of going to either your GP and/or a Scholl Footcare Centre. They're the shops that sell rather frumpy but incedibly comfy orthopaedic shoes.

The Scholl centres are great for people with gnarly feet. I had bad corns and the podiatrist cheerfully fixed me up and recomended some ways of avoiding them again. It was about £20 back then and money very well spent.

I hope you get this resolved. Dry cracked feet are no fun.

Edit: scholl has a website, but also has lots of bricks and mortar branches.
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 5:24 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Listerine foot bath done. :). It worked! But I don't know how much of it was the soaking/scrubbing. Plus it's winter here, so my feet weren't tooooo bad to start with. Worth a go, though!
posted by Salamander at 5:27 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm in the UK too and I've definitely been to the sort of Asian-lady-run spa Salamander mentions. They're not all nail art, though I can see why they might seem like that from the outside. You're in London, right? If you're North (specifically Highbury/Arsenal/Finsbury Park) I can recommend some folks. Otherwise, just look for somewhere with hideous 80s neon signs of ladies holding roses or American flags. Full on foot spa treatmeent (with vibrating chair) will be about £30 max.

Still not for you? Then just buy a Ped Egg. I thought these were a really expensive scam for ages, but recent forays into barefoot running made my feet totally gross - like, dry and cracked to the point of painful. Half an hour in the shower with a Ped Egg and ta-dah! All better.
posted by citands at 5:35 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Apparently these Footner Exfoliating Socks are the ticket. I haven't tried them myself, but I've heard them recommended a number of times.
posted by Acheman at 5:38 AM on July 30, 2013

I don't think it sounds like you have a medical problem either. And unless your foot skin is cracking or painful you don't *have* to do anything about them. But I really like the way my feet feel when they're less calloused - my feet tend to get hard, with crunchy horn-like bits and, yes, I have destroyed more than one pair of tights/socks by snagging them with bits of foot skin. And I understand your "I can't get a pedicure, my feet are too gross!" feeling, although as others have said, pedicurists have seen it all.

Here's my suggestion for home care:

Foot file, aggressively, every day (unless it hurts) after you bathe/shower until you've gotten those callouses down. There should be disgusting amounts of skin coming off your foot. Really get in there. Do it twice a day if you have time. This is only until you've gotten your feet to where you want them, then you'll be able to scale back.

Acquire a range of foot files, from the "cheese grater" type (more intense than the one you have now) to the "sandpaper" kind (because the kind that remove a lot of skin can leave your feet quite rough) and also use a foot/nail brush (though this is more for when you get things a bit more smoothed-out).

The Lush Volcano stuff is OK but I see it as more of a maintenance product, and I need to follow it up with a finer file because it seems to dry my feet out and leave little spiky bits.

Foot lotion (loads of it, I like Lush's Fair Trade Foot Lotion but any cheap moisturizer would probably work fine) every night, and wear cotton socks to bed. If you can give yourself a foot-lotion-and-cotton-socks treatment during the day as well, go for it!

I agree with those who say that if you don't have a medical problem, you're probably just not being aggressive enough with the file. Professional pedicurists sometimes use some pretty horrifying tools that I am afraid to use at home. Those callouses will not go away without a fight!
posted by mskyle at 5:40 AM on July 30, 2013

The Ped Egg changed my life! This thing will grate off dead skin like nobody's business. It's awesome!

Now, you may want to ask your GP if you could have a foot fungus, that can cause a lot of nastiness, but seriously, get a ped egg.

I also cream my feet with Nivea cream every night. I have VERY dry feet and hands. I don't sweat so I don't have any moisture there.

So I Ped Egg my feet and dump the copious amounts of dead skin. Then I soak in the tub with a nice oily soak, then I use a Mr. Pumice and really file it all down.

Don't be surprised if your feet seem tender after this. Your feet haven't felt anything after being covered in callouses for all these years. Go gentle, don't cram your piddies into high heels or anything.

If you have a lot of build up, it may take a few days to get your feet into decent shape, but a few days were going to pass anyway.

Now I grate my feet about once every 5 or so days. They look pretty in sandals and I wear funky colored toe nail polish.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:59 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Came in here to say Ped Egg, too. Just don't do what my cousin did and decide you need smooth feet when you are drunk... Her feet were very sore the next day.
posted by catatethebird at 6:08 AM on July 30, 2013

This isn't exactly a recommendation, as I haven't ever used this myself, but I stumbled on this a couple of weeks ago: Baby Feet. It looks kind of... unusual... to me, but some of the reviewers are really into it. Apparently you put your feet in these plastic booties, for a short amount of time, that are filled with this special product. Then after a few days, dead skin is supposed to start sloughing off. Apparently, lots of it.

I'd actually be kind of nervous about using a product like this, as I have no idea what the health effects are, but thought I'd throw it out there anyway.
posted by ohmy at 6:29 AM on July 30, 2013

Salamander: "Listerine foot bath done. :). It worked! But I don't know how much of it was the soaking/scrubbing."

I can say that for me the mouthwash foot bath works better than a regular foot bath (water+soap) in terms of loosening dead skin.
posted by travelwithcats at 6:40 AM on July 30, 2013

Don't scrape the dead skin off without moisturizing afterwards. I think you are just leaving a bunch of little scratches that will harden up again. I use Eucerin after exfoliating and it does a good job of healing the bottom layer and drying out the top layer to be more easily removed next time.
posted by soelo at 7:01 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

So I had rough feet. From years of sports, from dry feet, from winter. I was ripping up my socks and scratching up things. I would walk across carpet barefoot and shock people I touched because of the static electricity. I was scratching up my couch. I was collecting fuzzy things on my soles. It was bad.

Bought a Microplane Colossal Pedicure Rasp and went to town, then took a shower. I basically sat on the commode with my foot over the bathroom wastebin and went all Johnny Scissorhands on those bad boys. Didn't feel good the first time, and my feet were sore because I think I overdid it. But my feet felt mostly smooth. I put lotion on them.

A week later, they were back being scraggly. I was pulling big pieces of dead skin off, but there was still more, seemingly new dead skin. I used the Pedicure Rasp some more before showers, and made sure I lotioned up or vaselined up my feet afterward. Another week goes by, and the scraggle has returned. At this point I'm kind of defeated, but I'd built up the habit, so I kept at it. This was probably my 5th or 6th use. Shower. Lotion/Vaseline.

Then there was more peeling. Then something interesting happened. I was peeling off the dead skin, and it got to where the dead skin was attached to live skin. So I peeled off as much as I could of the dead skin. I had to spot file after that. There was some minor bleeding and I used hydrogen peroxide to make sure there weren't infections.

And that was it! I lotion up my feet once a day, but they are fixed! Process probably took a month. I had minor bleeding 3 times. Probably would have been avoided if I hadn't zoned out while grating.

I have this thing I've mentioned before on mefi where I jump to (almost) hit my head on the ceiling. One evening I went to do it on the carpeted floor and when I went to plant, my feet were so smooth that I slid and fell on my butt before I could even start the jump. Success!

I still have the rasp at the ready, but I haven't needed it since. I started around Christmas of last year, my feet were awesome by February, and I just ran my hand across my heel and it's an 8.5 on a scale of 1-10 smoothness.
posted by cashman at 7:11 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had *awful* scaly, painful, cracking, bleeding feet until I got a PedEgg. They're an "as seen on TV" product so it's probably overpriced for the quality, but the idea is right. Every week before a shower I slough off as much dry skin as I can. I usually have a PedEgg full of powder at the end. I don't know if you can get one in the UK, but something similar is surely available on the internet. It basically does the work of, like, ten foot files at once and you don't get a cramp in your arm at the end!
posted by theraflu at 7:52 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far!

When I use the foot file I have, I do see a good amount of powder coming off. But it doesn't seem to be having much effect on the Parmesan-rind like yucky skin that's hanging around the balls of my feet and toes. I went to a festival at the weekend and caught one of those bits and ripped it off - I'm fighting the temptation not to take scissors to it like I did when I was thirteen and it annoyed me. Is this what the Ped Egg is for? Should I get one of those electric Scholl foot files?

The ripping of tights/socks is so familiar. Last night I was saying to my SO that I worry about catching them on our sofa.

Cashman - that tool looks brilliant, but not sure you can get it in the UK. If it worked for you, though, I might see what I can do online...
posted by mippy at 8:36 AM on July 30, 2013

Lush's Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter is great stuff for softening those really hard bits of skin. It's not just for cuticles - I use it on my heels all the time. You might try rubbing the Cuticle Butter into your feet, then wear socks to bed and let it soak in overnight. Then, in the morning, do the Listerine foot soak (which really works, btw) and foot file. The cream will soften the dead skin so that the Listerine will penetrate and slough more of it off.

I love Lush products in general, and their Cuticle Butter is the best - and it smells great, too.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:44 AM on July 30, 2013

it doesn't seem to be having much effect on the Parmesan-rind like yucky skin that's hanging around the balls of my feet and toes. I went to a festival at the weekend and caught one of those bits and ripped it off - I'm fighting the temptation not to take scissors to it like I did when I was thirteen and it annoyed me. Is this what the Ped Egg is for?

Yes, but you must soak first - 20-30 minutes, warm water, swap out a couple of times if you need to keep it warm (my favorite foot soak basin is a plastic cat litter pan from the dollar store). You don't have to put anything in the water but you can put some drops of oil like olive/bath/vitamin E, or scented salts if you like. Or Listerine, I suppose. Then you can use your file or Ped Egg or pumice stone - gently! - on patted-dry feet (keep one in the water while you work on the other).

Do this twice a week for two or three weeks and you will have completely human feet that can then be occasionally filed at the end of your bath or shower once a week.

After soak/file, smear some nice lotion or cocoa butter or fancy foot goo or olive oil or whatever you've got, then put on a nice thick pair of socks for a while.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:08 AM on July 30, 2013

Hi, fellow Hobbit! Try Amlactin foot cream. It is the stuff of miracles. It restored my extremely calloused feet to normal after two weeks of diligent use. I do have to keep up with using it, though. Without a regimen, my feet revert right back.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:52 AM on July 30, 2013

The Ped Egg and that Rasp are similar, but the Ped Egg is egg shaped so everything you shave off gets collected inside, instead of going all over the place. In the US you can get a Ped Egg for maybe $12.99 at a drug store, and it comes with some other little tools, and a finer file/pumice for afterward. I'm sure you can find one online.

I also recommend you find a good foot lotion with camphor, it's really soothing after you do all that shaving/scraping/filing.
posted by catatethebird at 9:53 AM on July 30, 2013

A foot cream or balm with salicylic acid will help immensely (unless you're allergic to aspirin). Far cheaper than anything from Lush, that's certain. Get a scrub brush for your feet to use in the shower, alternate with a file or pumice. The best scrub/soak for feet is made with epsom salts. You can just grab a handful and scrub wet feet, or you can make a paste first with water and a drop or two of peppermint oil. Scrub feet and then soak in the epsom water if you have a footbath. Use two to three times a week, and then moisturize feet afterward.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:17 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nail bars here in London do pedicures, you want the spa pedicure in which you sit in the massaging chair. Every nail bar I've seen here does them, it would be a very odd and unusual nail bar that didn't. They will take your dead skin off with a razor then file it all down. I get really hard skin on my feet in summer and it usually takes 45 minutes or so and costs £23. Definitely try the pedicure before looking for a podiatrist referral.
posted by goo at 12:12 PM on July 30, 2013

The Ped Egg is a Micro-plane, with a way to capture the 'powder". You will get about 1/4 cup per foot, it REALLY takes it off. Quick and easy. Remember to get some refills while purchasing, you do need to change them out every so often (like you notice you're not making headway with it.)

Yes, this is what really gets the crusty, yukky dead skin off. Big time.

I use mine dry, I find it really just works well that way. Try it both ways, see what works best for you.

Moisturize after.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:44 PM on July 30, 2013

Don't cut skin off, what if you hit live flesh?!

Get a ped-egg, it's much more... abrasive? than a regular foot file. Seriously. Regular files are like using sandpaper to grate cheese. This ped-egg thing is like using an Alessi cheesegrater.
posted by citands at 2:08 PM on July 30, 2013

I can't do a decent job on my feet with a ped-egg, or rubbing in peppermint foot creams and filing. YMMV, but I love having a professional play with my feet for the better part of an hour and making my feet feel and look nice for very little money.

Also - all proper cheap nail bars here are run and staffed by Vietnamese people, same as in the US. They might have the odd person working for them who isn't Vietnamese, but that's rare. It's all part of the experience for me, sitting back while the chair massages you, having someone play with your feet and listening to them chatting in Vietnamese. The only ookie thing about it is they always have a male boss /manager and female staff, but that's not unusual in a lot of industries.

Just walk into a nail bar, say I'd like a pedicure please and sit down and wait until they're ready for you. Dry skin on your feet is what they're trained for.
posted by goo at 8:09 PM on July 30, 2013

XOJane article: I used a combo of urine and nothing to heal my dry, cracked feet. (with pictures)
posted by cashman at 9:22 AM on July 31, 2013

I got a haircut today, which is the only time I see women's magazines, and I saw tthis Dr. Scholl's electric thing for feet in a UK mag. Boots has it. If you buy that, I think you can get the hard skin remover half off?
posted by DarlingBri at 1:25 PM on July 31, 2013

Primark have a version of those soaking socks at the moment, much cheaper than the Boots ones (the Penneys ones in Ireland are €3.50, I think).

I tried them last month and, as advertised, your feet shed at a terrifying pace a few days afterwards and you're left with baby-soft skin. Unfortunately, this very quickly turned into really rough skin, thinner callouses but no softer – my half-arsed moisturising had worked fine before to avoid ripping tights or causing cracking, but it wasn't enough with the new skin. YMMV though, and I'm sure a better foot cream regimen or less rubbish summer shoes would have helped too.
posted by carbide at 3:57 PM on July 31, 2013

Cashman: Madonna famously credited "peeing in the shower" as curing her athlete's foot on the Letterman show.

I hesitate to recommend that the OP pee in the shower, (though hey - if it works, great!), but maybe a foot cream containing urea would help their foot issues. I've seen creams containing urea labeled as for especially dry, cracked feet.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:03 PM on July 31, 2013

Urea-containing creams actually do something to the keratin in your calluses so that it gets softer and doesn't crack. Also, urea acts fastest on bits that are torn or cracked, because they have the greatest amount of surface area. As a result, your feet get softer or smoother very fast. I had the best feet ever after using some urea cream and going to the beach: the sand rubbed away the now-softened rough bits, leaving me with silky-smooth feet.

The beach was covered with piles of dead skin but I considered that a small price to pay.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:58 PM on July 31, 2013

Have you considered a chiropodist? Here in the UK they are qualified professional foot specialists. They do lots of work on old peoples' horrible feet & toenails so you won't have anything that they haven't seen 10 times worse before. They are skilled in accurately cutting off the hard skin with a blade & tidying everything up. There are plenty of NHS ones, but you can just pay yourself. It cost me £36 last time & was worth every penny. It felt like I was all light on my feet & ready to skip down the street afterwards.
posted by cantthinkofagoodname at 8:53 AM on August 2, 2013

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