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Playing Footsie

By Amalah

(First of all — look! One of our own beloved AlphaFoxyMamas got some good press for doing some good things. Way to go, Jessica!)
Dear Amalah,
If anyone can save my feet, it’s you. I used to have wonderful, perfect feet. After a trip to the desert courtesy of my Uncle Sam, my perfect feet have deep, cracking calluses on the heels and on my toes. Over a span of three years, I have YET to find a product that will cure the cracking calluses and return my feet to their previous perfection. I have tried straight Vaseline, Mederma (Hey, it helped my stretch marks a little), various lotions from various places. I even have what looks like a cheese grater to sand off the calluses (it doesn’t hurt, really), but the cracks in them go too deep to sand off all of the callus. I’m skeptical of the “miracle callus remover” stuff I see on the internet, and I’m definitely not going to use one of those callus shaver thingys – I’m too klutzy and I’m not explaining that in the ER. My shoes fit fine, and I don’t wear shoes in the house, so I know it’s not that. I just want my pretty feet back. I have no idea what else to do short of go to a doctor, which to me seems silly since they don’t hurt, they’re just UGLY. And I’d like to have nice feet by summer. Please tell me how to save my poor feets Amalah!!
Bad Feet in Austin

Baby doll, you need to go get yourself a pedicure or 20. Seriously, think of all the money you’ve spent over the last three years on all those various lotions from various places and then think about how many pedicures you could have gotten instead. There are definitely things you can do at home to treat your calluses, but it sounds like you could really use a professional kickstart to the process. Some hardcore foot soaking and pumice-stoning by someone who deals with this stuff all the time. And I promise you, they really do see this stuff all the time and won’t judge.
Since your calluses aren’t painful, a doctor is unlikely to whip out the razor for you — medical treatment of calluses is usually reserved for really serious calluses that interfere with like, walking. So again, save your insurance co-pay for a pedicure, and then work out a schedule with the salon for how often they think you should come in for service to meet your “nice feet by summer” goal.
And then! In between visits, here’s what you do: soak your feet in warm water first. You can occasionally cheat and say the shower counts as soaking, but to really wage war on the cracks and calluses you should really soak your whole foot. You can treat yourself to one of those , although the bathtub or a basin of warm water works just fine. Add some or baking soda. (I’ve tried the fancy bath salts, by the way, and they would definitely lose a Price Tag Cage Match here. So not necessary.)
After soaking to soften up your skin, go after the calluses with a pumice stone or your cheese grater thing. (I’ve only ever used the stone, so I don’t know if there’s a difference.) Anyway, the sanding is just going to work on the actual callus, not the cracks. Those are a whole ‘nother thing that we’ll talk about in a second. Sand away the dead, hard skin until your foot feels pretty smooth to the touch (cracks excluded).
DDF pedicream.jpg
The cracks need to be moisturized. Every. Day. Morning. And. Night. My mom bought me this incredible stuff by DDF (Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula) for my birthday this year, and oh my hell, it is fabulous. I actually got COMPLIMENTED on my FEET at my Valentine’s Day pedicure. And that was the first pedicure I’ve gotten in a couple damn years. It’s pricey, so I’d use that about once a day, whenever you want something that smells nice and feels kind of pampering.
When you don’t care about the smell, use . It’s super thick and goopy, but it should do the trick and get rid of those cracks. You’ll also need to wear socks after applying it and give your hands a really good wash. (Which is why I say use the the DDF stuff as well, because the Flexitol stuff can be a pain to realistically work into your daily routine twice a day.)
It sounds like you’ve got the shoes-fitting-properly thing down, but I have one caveat about going barefoot around the house (particularly in winter) — you must wear socks. Or bedroom slippers that cover your whole foot. Going completely barefoot or wearing backless shoes actually make dry feet worse, and thus lead to more cracking.
I’ve found that the routine above is more than enough to ensure soft, healthy feet, but I know a lot of women who swear by those treatment sock things — like this pair by . If regular pedicures aren’t doable for your budget, I suppose splurging on $48 socks would be an alternative, since they claim to work for 50 treatments. I don’t know. It always seems to me that a pedicurist is able to make so much more progress with the pumice stone in one visit than I can at home. But maybe I’m just hopelessly uncoordinated. Which is incredibly likely, given my tendency to trip over air and then stare accusingly at the carpet for awhile.

Published February 19, 2007. Last updated February 19, 2007.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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