Could Your Pedicure Be Ruining Your Feet?

Are your heels hard, white and cracked? If so, you're pedicure might be to blame. You think you’re doing the right thing by visiting the salon frequently in order to keep your feet looking good and feeling baby-smooth, but when all is said and done, it may be leaving you worse off. Here’s why.

You’re getting pedicures too often
Many women have standing pedicure appointments every two weeks, but experts say that may be too much. “Overdoing your pedicures can cause more harm than good if your feet are being overexfoliated,” says Greenwich, CT, dermatologist Mitchell Ross, MD. “I recommend pedicures be done no more than once every four to six weeks.” If you can’t stand it and your polish is a mess, forgo the full pedi and settle for a polish change only to avoid any exfoliation.

The wrong tools are used
If your nail technician uses overly aggressive exfoliating tools (the ones that look like a cheese grater), it could cause trauma to the skin on your heels, causing it grow back thicker and harder. “Think of it like a callous you get on your finger when your pen constantly rubs it,” says Beverly Hills, CA, dermatologist Rhonda Rand, MD. “The outermost layer of skin gets thicker and develops dried (and often white) skin on top.”

How to treat it:

Smooth out rough spots while you sleep
Before bed, apply a highly concentrated foot balm (look for one that contains lactic acid or other alphahydroxy acids—you can also try coconut oil) or healing ointment, and then put on cotton socks. “Do this every night for a week or two to lock in moisture and help soften the rough patches on your heels while you sleep,” says Dr. Ross.

Try DIY exfoliation
A new way to care for your feet at home, sole-resurfacing treatments are becoming more popular in the U.S. as women are adopting trends from Korea. Stacy Cox, aesthetician and brand ambassador for BabyFoot, a natural foot exfoliating mask, says women are looking for results-driven treatments from the comfort of their own homes. “These foot masks resurface the skin on your heels to remove hard areas of dead skin.”

Use your own tools
Experiment with your own pedicure tools at home—a foot file or pumice stone that’s designed especially for gentle callous removal. “Exfoliating your feet yourself lets you control how much skin you want to remove in the areas you need, without overdoing it,” says Dr. Rand.

Follow doctor’s orders 
If the callouses on your heels are really thick and hard, and at-home treatments aren’t helping, it could be that an underlying issue, like an infection, is to blame. In this case, you should see a dermatologist for diagnosis. “Your doctor may recommend a prescription-strength product that contains more intense ingredients for softening and removing callouses,” says Dr. Rand. “I typically prescribe creams with 40 percent urea, an ingredient known to moisturize and soften rough, hard skin.” 

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