How to Treat Dryness in the Legs and Feet

Dry skin in the legs and the feet can be very annoying, especially in the dry season. Flaky shins and cracked feet with the persistent itching- wished by no one, ever! Dry, scaly skin isn’t just an eyesore but also something that can make you feel self-conscious.

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How to Treat Dryness in the Legs and Feet
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Incessant scratching can also make the skin inflamed and cause wounds and scars on the legs. Cracked feet can become painful and even bleed at times. Luckily, there are some simple ways to get rid of dryness in the legs and feet and also tips to avoid dryness.

What causes dryness in the legs and feet?

How can you treat something without understanding the cause? Here’s what makes the skin of the legs and feet dry and flaky.

Lack of moisture

Have you noticed that your feet and legs become drier in the winter? This is because the air is dry and it absorbs the moisture from the skin making it dehydrated. This happens especially in the feet where there are fewer oil glands and therefore less natural oil to protect the moisture from escaping.

Using harsh skincare products

While your skin care routine for dry skin may include moisturizing cleansers, soaps and toners for the face and neck, the skin of the legs and feet gets a lot less attention. Most commercial soaps and body washes can be harsh on the skin, stripping away the natural oils it produces. The result? The skin of the legs and feet doesn’t retain its moisture and gets dry quickly.

Hot water baths

Who doesn’t like hot water baths? You might but definitely not your skin! Hot water too has a drying effect on the skin. It washes away the natural oils breaking the skin’s moisture barrier and exposing it to atmospheric dryness.

Not wearing the right type of footwear

Our feet take the weight of our body and if we don’t wear the right footwear to support them, they suffer from friction and undue strain. It is common for hard, dry calluses and cracked skin to develop on the pressure points of the soles.

Medical conditions

People with skin conditions such as eczema, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, diabetes and hypothyroidism suffer from extreme skin dryness. They require special care, even medical attention to treat their skin.


As you age, the skin produces less natural oils leading to increased dryness. In fact, dryness in the feet is a common issue with aging people as their skin becomes thinner and loses its ability to retain moisture.

How to treat dryness of the feet and legs?


To exfoliate means to slough off the dry, dead skin cells in order to stimulate the skin to produce new ones. This helps cure the itch of flaking skin.

Use physical exfoliators such as body brushes and foot scrubs. If the skin on your legs tends to suffer from redness and sensitivity, go for a natural scrub with jojoba beads, powdered herbs, oatmeal-honey, brown sugar, rice bran or vanilla seeds. These are less abrasive than typical scrubs.

A moisturizing peel-off mask is also effective in removing the dead skin layer. The good thing about these masks is that they don’t require scrubbing. If they suit your skin, you can also use chemical scrubs that include lactic acid, alpha-hydroxy acid and glycolic acid.

For the feet, use a pumice stone or foot file to scrub off the cracked skin on the heels and soles.

Foot soak

Soak your feet in warm water to soothe dry, inflamed skin and to soften cracks and improve blood circulation to the feet. Add some Epsom salt, oatmeal, honey or a little bit of vinegar as their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties will calm and heal any inflammation.

Moisturize with a rich lotion

Look for an effective moisturizer rich in ingredients like hyaluronic acid, petrolatum, lanolin, ceramides, glycerin, glycolic acid and antioxidants. Botanical oils such as sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil and argan oil also make for excellent ingredients to fight dryness of the feet and legs.

Soothe instead of scratching

While it can be immensely tempting to satisfy that itch, don’t scratch. For one, it doesn’t stop the itching. But most importantly, scratching can inflame the skin making it sore. Scratching the feet can crack the skin leading to cuts and wounds. Apply a cooling spray or a cold cream or soothe the skin with a soft, cool flannel or cold compress instead.

How to prevent dry legs and feet?

Why deal with dryness when you can avoid it altogether! After all prevention is better than cure, right? Here are some simple changes you can make in your lifestyle and skin care to avoid dryness in the feet and legs.

Moisturize frequently

Moisturize at least twice daily, once after you shower and once before you go to bed. Opt for a heavier, creamier moisturizer if your lotion dries out too quickly. This will act as a barrier to protect your skin’s moisture and keep it soft and smooth.

Moisturizers for the legs and feet can be slightly greasier than that of the face as the skin is less prone to acne and needs extreme moisturizing in comparison to the face.

Avoid hot water showers

Bathe with warm water instead of hot water and avoid long showers. Keep your bath-time to a maximum of 7 minutes. Add a few drops of a botanical oil to your bathwater to replenish any lost natural oil. Pat dry your legs and feet instead of rubbing them hard with the towel.

Use mild skincare products

Avoid products that contain parabens, artificial dyes and fragrances and most of all, alcohols. Yes, the skin on your legs and feet can take a lot more than that of your face, but it still suffers from the ill-effects of these ingredients. They dry out the skin and trigger itching, burning and stinging sensations.

Use a moisturizing gel for shaving legs

Shaving legs can lead to dryness as it removes the natural oils and creates abrasions. So instead of using a regular soap, use a moisturizing gel or shaving foam. Moisturize immediately, preferably with an anti-inflammatory ingredient like aloe vera, honey, rose water or botanical oils.

Wear protective clothing

Leaving your legs and feet exposed to the external environment makes them more prone to dryness. Keep them protected with long pants and socks, even when indoors.

Get a humidifier

A humidifier might well be a great investment not just to prevent dryness in your feet and legs but your entire body. Adding some moisture to the air in the room you spend most of your time in will save your skin from the attack of dry air.

Eat foods rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants stimulate the collagen tissues in the skin to produce new skin cells allowing it to repair and heal. Include foods with lots of leafy vegetables, tomatoes, green tea, berries and walnuts in your diet.

Keep your legs and feet protected from the sun

Exposure to the UV radiation of the sun can break the protective moisture barrier and dry out the skin. Tanned legs are nice but they also come with dry skin, itching and inflammation. Protect your legs and feet with a high SPF sunblock or sunscreen.

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