Foot Problems

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Solution for calloused feet?

August 2009

Can anyone recommend an excellent pedicure place that can help my callouses and dry, cracked heels? Thank you!

Get salicylic acid pads (Stridex or Neutrogena are good bets) for around $6 for a jar. You can find them in the acne treatment aisle. After scrubbing, wipe your heels (elbows, too!) with those pads and slather in vaseline or oil. Put on socks and wear them overnight. This made a huge difference for me. Lisa in Oakland

Some advice I got for cracked skin on the foot from my derm--

Use two creams (one with a high amount of Urea acid. This item (no brand was suggested) is found in the foot section of the drug store. The second cream is aqua-phor-- found in the skin cream section.

You put one cream on in the morning and cover with socks. The other cream is put on in the evening and you cover with socks.

When you bathe it is important to use something that rubs the rough skin off.

It's slowly working on me-- but my husband did it and is quite pleased with his new feet!! SueF

As I get older, my heals have gotten so dry and rough. Bleh. Try Target brand foot/heel cream, about $3 tube, your rough heel will start to look smooth again. Gold Bond also works but I found the Target brand works slightly better. You will see a huge difference in a few days. Just apply the cream and put your feet up to let it soak in. Also, invest another couple of dollars in a pumice. Try rubbing the heel before you get in the shower, rather than after. Dead skin seems to rub off faster when it is dry, rather than wet. -Anon.

Slippers causing athlete's foot & white toenails?

Sept 2008

I have chronic athlete's foot and white toenails on one foot. It comes and goes. Recently, after quite a while without any signs of the athlete's foot (still white toenails) and no use of slippers, I started using slippers again after my shower and the itching came back. I had been slipper free for a while so I was wondering if perhaps they contributed to the fungus and bacteria. Looking back, I always felt itchy while using slippers post-shower, and I've used many different slippers over the years. I miss having warm slippers after a shower, but they all seem to be damp and slow to dry out--maybe a contribution to the fungus? I would love to find a pair that is anti-bacterial/fungal but haven't had any luck with online searches. I also used flip flops in the past, but I still had the athlete's foot with those. If anyone knows of a brand and place to buy slippers that are anti-fungal I would greatly appreciate it. -Itchy

Okay. This is going to sound like a testimonial, but here goes. I have had nail fungus on one toenail for years. Then I got the white fungus too. I also have had recurring athlete's foot, so I know what you're going through. Here's what is making a huge difference for me: Apple Cider Vinegar. Yep. ACV. First the white fungus. I have a special set of tools I use for that toe, including one of those coarse nail buffers. A few years ago, I went through some time buffing the top of the nail down, then soaking it in ACV. After three days of this--three days--I had no more white fungus. I did not keep up the program, and about six months ago it started to come back. It got really bad, so I thought I'd try the coarse buffer and ACV again, and yep, three days later, no more white fungus. Now I try to do this at least once a week to keep the fungus away, and it's working well. The ACV helps to keep athlete's foot under control, too, and I have used it in the wash to get rid of fungus there, too. As for slippers, consider getting a cozy, washable slipper, and wash it with an ACV rinse every week or so. One caution: ACV can smell bad if you get it in a pair of shoes, especially one you wear barefoot. So wash your feet after you do the ACV soak. gettin better

Whenever your feet are damp, try drying your feet extremely carefully, esp. between the toes. Then apply some cornstarch, which absorbs lingering moisture. Again, focus on the area between the toes. Won't help the toenails but always keeps me and some others I know Athlete's Foot free. I also have a bath mat made of cotton with a very thick pile, which helps a bit to dry feet, too. Then I put on my washable boiled wool slippers. You might speak with your physician about the fungus. My dad took a pill a day (presumably anti-fungal) for a year, and wore white socks, at his doctor's suggestion. It was the only thing that worked for him. You can check the internet for preventative measures, e.g., remove nail polish carefully-don't leave it to grow out in the winter, etc. Good luck. No longer has Athlete's Foot

the fungus is in your slippers - throw them away. wear warm socks instead and wash them after every use. air your feet whenever possible - sunlight is good too. make sure you dry your feet thoroughly after they get wet (before you put anything on them) and don't warm them so much that they sweat. dry feet tend to be less fungal anon

I also enjoy wearing slippers when I get out of the shower, but I make sure that I dry my feet off well before I put them on, including between the toes. I also wash my slippers with my jeans every few weeks, and dry them thoroughly in the dryer. Drying them in the clothes dryer (instead of just letting them air-dry) makes me feel like they are extra clean. anon

I am not an athletes' foot expert (although I do have it from time to time. However, i beleive folks ahve found 2 things about antibacterial products (and perhaps these would translate to anti-fungal products as well. 1) They kill off ALL bacteria, including the good ones that defend agains bad ones, thus leaving a vacuum for the bad ones (and they encourage the production of drug resistant bacteria); 2)an antibacterial item (like a tray or a counter top or a shoe insert (if there is one), keeps that particular material from having bacteria withIN it, but does nto neccesarily keep bacteria from growing ON it.

If it were me, i would put my post-shower feet in front of a heater vent, wiggle my toes, put on powder or clitamozole, then socks and then the slippers. I think you are correct in assuming that you slippers are harbouring happy fungus that is just waiting for the return of your warm, damp toes! Change and lauder the socks often! Anonymous

The problem is not the slippers but, instead, is an issue of treating the problem as a whole. You have to make a whole-hearted attack and keep the attack going even after symptoms are gone, just like with antibiotics, otherwise the strongest fungus survives and is what multiplies to create a stronger infection next time. Including an internal attack is a good idea, too.

I used an athlete's foot spray on regular basis throughout the day (don't remember the specific directions) and if I had to wear socks I changed my them during the day if possible. I also ALWAYS sprayed my shoes, slippers, even sandals EVERY time I put them on. I would be sure to have washable slippers and wash in hot water at least once per week (the boiling suggestion sounds like a good idea, too). I would do something on the shower/bathtub floor after every use (Lysol or whatever can kill the fungus) and be sure to follow the directions, usually let air dry and don't rinse. Also, treat whatever you step on when coming out of the shower and treat regularly (wash bathmat, spray floor, etc). And keep in mind, the fungus can be on the towel you use to dry your feet. Maybe you can use a separate hand towel each time. The bottom line is, I think the fungus can be spread easily to almost everything your feet touch and survive on dry surfaces for some time. I know that some bacteria can survive for months on a dry surface and 300yr old bottles of beer were found on the ocean floor and were found to contain yeast that was still alive. Good Luck Margaret

Cracked Heels

October 2006

I never had a problem with cracked heels until I got pregnant with my first child over 5 years ago. I've used every thing from Aquaphor to bag balm to Neosporin and wearing socks to sleep, but nothing seems to help. I get pedicures every two weeks and that still doesn't help. I've even gone to a dermatologist and that didn't solve the problem either. The cracks can get so painful at sometimes I can't even wear sandals on a nice day. Please help me!!!!
Hurting Heels

I had/have the exact same problem. My dermatologist prescribed Urea 40% Cream. It worked wonders. It is now sold over the counter, but I couldn't find it locally. I bought it online as ''Topix Urix 40 Urea Cream''. I use it whenever my skin starts cracking, but should probably use it everyday like my doctor said. I just don't remember. Hope it works for you Smooth Feet

I developed the same problem after years of regular pedicures and soft feet, and this is what works for me: use a pumice stone on the worst parts (usually the heels and balls of the foot), which are available in all major drug stores, while you are in the shower at least every other day. Be pretty vigorous with the pumice, as it really does remove excess dry skin. Then, lotion your feet well afterward so that they don't get super dry during the day. At night, wash your feet, use vaseline (not my fave, but it works) or a lotion like Miracle Foot Repair (my favorite), available at Walgreen's for sure, and wear socks to bed. This really does work to keep down the scruff and callous build-up. And, if you can find a pedicurist who illicitly uses the razor shaving method (it's illegal), you will find your feet being much softer between peds. heather

I have this problem occasionally too - it really hurts!!!! I find that this condition is invariably aggrevated in me when I wear sandals - you might want to note whether the condition is associated with any behaviors on your part, so you can eliminate them.

In addition to doing all the things that you mention (as well as wearing shoes with socks for awhile) I use a scrub buffer on my heels - I got one from the pedicure place. It's not a pumice stone but some kind of rough thick pad that I use to scrub off the top layer of skin. Finally, there is also a product called Pretty Feet and Hands which I just started using which takes off the top layer of skin as well and it actually works. I think you said you saw a dermatologist? Mine gave me a strong anti-fungal AND and exfoliant to use alternatively (though I haven't yet used them!). Hope it helps. I can relate to your suffering! Good luck anon

I've had the cracked heel problem for the past three years and found the solution to be three-fold:

1) Stop wearing sandals. Flip-flops, Tevas, Keens, clogs, any kind of open-heeled shoes exacerbate the problem because important oils and moisture are lost through the day.

2) Put Vaseline liberally on your feet and then put socks on them for the night.

3) Use that liquid Bandaid product which is a kind of ''glue'' for wounds. It accelerates the healing.

Simple but it works - Been There, Done That

I have a lifetime of experience with cracked heels and finally (!) this summer not a single crack. Here's what I do

1) no flip flops! Seriously, it sucks, but part of the problem is any sort of backless shoe. When your foot can slide from side to side when you walk, it pulls on your skin/calluses and starts a fissure.

2) Flexitol heel balm, available in the foot care section of your drug store (& cheap!)

3) silicone-heeled sleep socks, to keep the flexitol in place, also sold in the footcare section

4) a metal rasp/file from Dr. Scholls. I use this on each heels every single morning when I get out of the shower, and then

5) thickly lotion my heels every morning.

Hope this helps. Lots of this advice came from a podiatrist - and if you're having a real problem I really recommend you visit one. The key is doing all of this stuff consistently, every day crackless

You might ask your doctor to check your thyroid levels. dry skin, particularly cracked heels, can be an indicator. It's a simple blood test cracked up too

Have you been wearing mostly sandals since you gave birth? I also developed this problem over the last few years and solved it after I read an article by a podiatrist that described the damage that can be done to heels from wearing sandals and flip- flops all the time. Your heels get damaged and cracked from all the friction. I've switched back to regular shoes and my heals are slowly recovering Whitney

I had this forever until my dermatologist suggested the following treatment plan. If your problem is really bad like mine was, seeing a dermatologist can help you rule out other problems.
- Do not scrub or scrape the area with stones or heaven forbid, a blade
- Apply Keralyt Gel 2/day on affected area for a week-10 days, until skin is smooth
- Once healthy skin is restored, use U-Lactin to prevent recurrance
- Weekly/bi-weekly pedicures help keep skin smooth and exfoliated
- Use a rich natural cream every night on your feet, like the heavy foot cream or the Karite butter from L'Occitane, then slip on a pair of socks. Spa treatment while you sleep! just sign me barefootin' mama

I have heard that cracked heels can be caused by a type of athletes foot fungus (that has gone untreated). Have you tried an althletes foot regimen? That would be my next step. Hope this helps! Alesia

I had this as a child and it was diagnosed as excema. I don't recall which topical ointment I used, I'm sure your doctor will know. But the key for me was that after applying the ointment, my mother would wrap my feet in saran wrap and than put socks over my feet to lock the moisture in overnight. It's not the most comfortable way to sleep but it really helped me alot! Hope this Helps!

I don't know if you've tried Flexitol Heel Balm yet, but it's worked wonders for me. I used it twice a day for a couple of weeks until my cracked heels got better, then just continued to use it once a day to keep them in good shape. I bought it at Albertsons, so I'd assume it's pretty widely available. Good luck! Amy

You might want to try a product called MIRACLE FOOT. You can get it at any pharmacy or safeway. I think it's the best thing i've seen for what you're describing. I also recommend getting pedicures every two to three weeks. My feet seemed to get worse after the birth of my second child and using the miracle foot cream and the pedicures keeps it under control. anon

I have found a product called Amlactin to work amazing well. After 1 week of applying it on your feet before bed you will see a remarkable improvement. Works great for hands and elbows too. You can ask your doctor for a prescription. I found it available without a prescription at Costco but I don't know if it is something they carry regularly. amlactin fan

I get Cracked Heels when I visit home (New Mexico). Neutrogena Hand Cream helps a bit. It's sort of expensive but it works well. You can get special socks occasionally at Bath & Body works or similar shops that you can wear after you put cream on. They help too, no matter what you slather on. Jennifer

on the cracked heels topic, i believe myself to be an experienced hand (feet, actually). i always wear sandals, summer and winter, as i have bony feet and any shoes with more weight are burdensome. ten or so years ago (in my 50's then), i began to experience the cracked heels you mention. at the time i was wearing only birkenstocks, although now i have switched to ecco brand sandals. so one day while at the birkie store on college, i happened to mention my recently cracking heels to the nice woman (manager, i think). she instantly said that the problem was driness and all i needed to do was wear socks.

you mention that you have tried socks (to bed at night) and it didn't help. i recommend trying them in the daytime also and you might need to do this most of or all winter. most of the summer i am fine without socks, but as soon as there is the first bit of cooler (or drier???) weather, the cracks return. usually (starting a couple of weeks ago or so) i ignore the cracks for a few days, thinking that it isn't that cold yet and the cracks will surely go away. you'd think i would learn (year after year) and hopefully by next year i will have the drill down a bit better. but finally, each year, i realize the problem isn't going to go away on its own and i don my socks again (i wear 'em 24/7, even to bed to keep me warm). like you, at first i am frustrated, as the cracks (and, more to the point, the pain) in my heels continue on unabated for what seems like forever (1-3 weeks, i'd guess). but eventually (like within the last couple of days finally) both the cracks AND the pain (thankfully) disappear. as long as i wear socks every day all winter (and once i have started the routine, i have no problem continuing it), there are no more problems.

so my advice: put on your socks and keep 'em on at least till some warm spring days. it may take awhile for the existing cracks to heal, but in this case perseverence furthers, at least it did for me and of course i hope the same proves true for you.

socks do wear out and i need to keep buying new ones, but it sure beats drugs and pedicures which you mentioned. good luck and, please, let me hear from you, if you have time

My feet are in bad shape

July 2004

I'm looking for someone who can provide me with foot care. I have serious fungus, my toenails are almost all riddled with flaky fungus, sometimes my toenails fall off from the condition. The rest of my feet are also in bad shape - lots of flaky skin shedding all the time and my feet hurt and itch constantly. I have consulted a podiatrist, he didn't seem to know what to do. This seems like a pretty common condition, although not to the extent I have it. Do you know of anyone who cares for this condition - podiatrist, pedicurist, alternative medicine practitioner? I'm open to any suggestions. Thanks. Footsore

I'm stunned that a podiatrist wasn't able to help you with your toenail fungus problem. I consulted a Kaiser podiatrist when I had a mild case on a big toenail that I got from my boyfriend, who has a really bad established case (that he doesn't want to deal with). He told me that since mine was just beginning that I might be able to treat it successfully with a combination of Lamisal cream and Myconizal cream. I took it upon myself to file the surface of my nail (pretty vigorously) first to get the creams inside, and it worked over a period of about 3 months. But mine wasn't advanced, and the surface filing was my own idea.

I know that Lamisal is prescribed internally in pills for bad cases, and also that surgical removal of the infected nails is done sometimes. I'd suggest consulting either a regular medical doctor or another podiatrist. perhaps after first ascertaining that it is something that they know how to treat. A pedicurist is not a doctor and toenail fungus is a medical condition, so don't even consider that.

For the dry flaky skin, I use foot creams (right now I use one called Pedicure from the drugsatore). I put it on heavily at night after washing and drying my feet, and then sleep in socks. It helps a lot. It is also possible that you have athletes foot, which can occur other places besides just between the toes, so you might want to try mixing in some Lamisal with the foot cream. Lamisal cream is not cheap, but it is the one that doctors recommend (it used to be prescription) and I find that it absolutely the best for athletes foot.

When your foot skin is healed up some, you can try gently using a scrubber- I don't know what they are actually called but many manicurist shops sell them and they are gentler and more effective than pumice stones- and slowly start exfoliating some of that thick itchy skin. Good luck! anon

I don't have any advice for you about toenail fungus but there is a lot of advice on the website that might be helpful here

I do have advice about dry, cracked feet. I have really dry skin and my feet are the driest crackedest grossest-looking feet ever, especially in the summer when I go barefoot or wear flipflops. Here is what I do that really does help: 1) get one of those foot sanders - sort of like a big plastic emery board for feet. I think Dr. Scholls makes them. I sand and sand my heels, and it smooths out the skin a LOT and gets rid of the dry dead skin. I try to do it a few times a week. Pumice stone does not work for me - only the sanders. Try it in the shower. 2) After EVERY shower, rub lotion into your feet, especially the soles. I love EO Foot Balm - nice peppermint & lavender smell. I get mine at but I have also seen it at Star Grocery, Elmwood Pharmacy, and and beauty supply stores. 3) I find that if I paint my toenails I am more likely to remember to do these things.