What Can I Use to Soak My Feet in to Soften the Hard Skin?

A long soak in warm water and essential oils can do your feet a world of good.

Photo: Pinnacle Pictures/Photodisc/Getty Images

The skin on your feet might harden for a variety of reasons: pressure from standing all day or wearing unsupportive shoes; dermatological conditions; or exposure to dry air and the summer sun. Unfortunately, hard skin is not only uncomfortable and often unsightly, it can also flake, itch and worsen into painful cracks. Lots of products are available in your local drugstore to moisturize your feet -- lotions, muds and additives for foot baths -- but you can make your own soothing, softening foot bath out of natural ingredients already in your pantry.

Rice Bath

Cook up a cup of ordinary rice in 5 cups of water for 20 minutes, until the rice is tender. There should be about 3 cups of extra water in the pot. Add 3 tbsp. of baking powder. Wait for it to cool enough to be tolerable to your skin -- don't burn yourself! Transfer it to a container that is just large enough to fit your feet, and soak those tootsies until the water is cold.

Milk Bath

Milk has many components that soothe and soften the skin. Mix 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup water. Add 2 tbsp. of olive oil for extra softening, and a pinch of cinnamon. Mix the ingredients and soak your feet in the solution. It is recommended to repeat this treatment twice a week.

Salt Bath

This recipe makes a very deep bath, with 20 cups of water, so use a large container. Boil the water, and when it is slightly cooled, add a cup of sea salt or epsom salt. Then add about 6 drops of essential oil -- either lavender, sandlewood or ylang ylang. If you want, you can also add 4 cups of whole milk for extra efficacy.

Oil Bath

Many oils have a softening effect on skin: you could massage olive oil or any hydrogenated vegetable oil directly onto your feet to help treat the hard skin. For a foot bath, boil enough water to cover your feet in your container of choice. Allow it to cool slightly and then add 3 drops of peppermint oil and 1 drop of eucalyptus oil. As an added bonus, put in some tea tree oil, which fights fungus, if you have athlete's foot.

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