Can a Podiatrist Remove Dead Skin?

Beautiful female feet

Dead skin at the bottom of the foot is something you might not want to think about, but letting it build-up over the years can lead to a situation that only professional medical assistance can deal with. So when you need to have dead skin on your heels dealt with, where should you go to have it treated?

Can a podiatry clinic remove dry skin on the foot? Thankfully, dead skin is a common issue that podiatrists deal with. No matter how bad your issue might be, podiatrists can remove the dry skin with specialized tools and treat you with the necessary lotions and advice to allow your feet to heal back to normal.

What Causes Dead Skin on the Foot?

Dead skin on the bottom of the foot is a problem that many adults face, with over 20% of Americans experiencing specifically cracked heels. This unsightly and uncomfortable condition can be difficult to deal with, which leads to many patients asking about what caused it in the first place.

Here are some of the most common causes of dry, peeling feet:

  • Athlete’s Foot: This is a fungal infection that is primarily experienced by athletes or those exposed to the common environments of athletes, such as gyms and common shower areas. This condition leads to a burning, peeling, and stinging sensation on the bottom of the foot, and is caused by the fungus that you might pick up while walking barefoot in shower areas and gyms. It may also develop when your feet become sweaty or warm and you fail to wear good socks.
  • Dry Skin: While dry skin is caused by certain medical conditions in some people, others are just naturally predisposed to having hard skin. This condition can be worsened by smoking, stress, excessive exposure to the sun, dehydration, hot baths and showers, and low humidity.
  • Eczema: A type of skin condition that can be found anywhere on the body, eczema on the feet is a common cause of thick skin on the bottom of the feet. This leads to cracked, peeling, and itchy skin, and occurs in flare-ups.
  • Psoriasis: Another chronic disease that can affect any part of the body but is known to commonly appear on the soles of the feet. Psoriasis is a lifelong condition which leads to an overgrowth of skin cells, leading to thick skin on the bottom of the foot.

Perhaps the most common reason why people see podiatrists about thick skin is due to cracked heels. Cracked heels are the dry cracked skin on the bottom of the heel, leading to reduced sensation and a thickening of the foot.

So what causes cracked heels? Generally, cracked heels are caused by the combination of pressure and dryness around the heels – the skin literally splits apart because it isn’t moist enough to stay intact under the pressure. There is a range of potential causes for this condition, such as:

  • Lack of moisture: Perhaps the most common cracked heel cause is the simple lack of moisture. The bottom of the foot is often very chapped and rough, no matter how sweaty you might get. This is because there are very few sweat glands around the heels and there is little fat around the bottom of the foot, which helps in keeping skin moisturized
  • Vitamin deficiencies: Not having proper diet and nutrition reduces the overall health of your heels
  • Excessive pressure: People who stand or walk too much and rest their weight on their heels can expect to experience cracked heels
  • Age: The skin naturally loses elasticity as you get older, meaning dry parts of the body (such as the heels) have a higher chance to crack
  • Obesity: As too much pressure can lead to cracked heels, increasing the weight of that pressure contributes as well. Obesity increases pressure on the heel, forcing it to expand sideways and crack
  • Exposed footwear: It’s important to wear shoes that fit properly, or else the fat beneath the heel will expand sideways and crack. Exposed footwear doesn’t properly hold the foot, leading to this sideways crack

How Do Podiatrists Remove Dry Skin?

Cracked heels and dry feet skin aren’t the only examples of thick skin on the foot. There are also corns and calluses which can lead to thickened skin which needs to be removed, as these can lead to reduced sensation and can be very uncomfortable once they build-up over time.

So how do you get this removed? Thankfully, podiatrists are trained and equipped with the skills and tools to cut off even the thickest skin on your foot.

To do this, the podiatrist begins with an assessment to understand exactly what is causing your dry feet to become “dead”; this allows them to recommend topical medication or treatment after the removal of the skin. Certain types of cream may help best for certain skin types, so it’s important to follow your podiatrist’s recommendations.

Afterwards, the podiatrist removes the skin by using special podiatrist tools; these typically include a scalpel and an electric file. Patients may worry that this procedure will hurt, but there is typically little pain as the dry cracked skin doesn’t have much or any sensation. At most, patients will experience a discomfort during the procedure, while the podiatrist uses the tools to excise the skin.

Treatments After Dead Skin Removal

After the dead skin has been removed, the feet must be treated properly to allow them to heal and prevent reoccurrence. Podiatrists will typically recommend special socks, heel cups, and even fit orthotics that are specifically made to alleviate the discomfort of cracked heels.

In the most severe cases, some podiatrists may recommend using medical tissue glue, designed to boost the healing process for cracked heels. The skin must be given the time and assistance to regrow and build new tissue, and this new tissue must be kept moisturized and protected so that it doesn’t crack again.

Some podiatry clinics offer other treatments for cracked heels and dry feet after the initial build-up of skin has been removed. One type of treatment is known as a warm wax treatment, which uses the application of warm wax on the cracked dry heels to increase blood flow and hydration to the heel while relaxing the muscles and the joints. This provides both healing and therapeutic effects to the affected area.

Home Treatments for Dead Skin

Prevention is always better than the cure, which is why you should start taking care of your feet today if you want to avoid the need for professional podiatrist dry skin removal. Here are some things which may help to protect your feet:

  1. Always stay hydrated; letting your dry cracked feet skin suffer from dehydration is the best way to developing cracked heels and heel fissures.
  2. Use a topical oil or cream to moisturize your feet once or twice a day, in the morning and the evening. You may also have your feet regularly massaged for best care.
  3. Wear closed shoes that offer proper support around your feet. Open-toed shoes allow your feet to dip sideways, leading to extra pressure on your heels.
  4. For extra support, you may also strap a sports tape around your heel to allow proper recovery after a removal procedure.
  5. A pumice stone or foot file may be used to gently scrape skin off your foot at home; but if the condition is serious, be sure to leave the treatment up to the professionals.

For best help with your dry cracked skin and heel fissures, a pumice stone won’t be enough, and it’s highly recommended to see a podiatrist.

Learn more: What’s the Difference Between a Podiatrist and a Chiropodist?