Pressure and friction cause the skin on your feet to thicken and harden as a protective measure. The result is rough skin, corns and calluses. While removal of hard skin is rarely medically necessary, treatment may be desired to ease discomfort or improve appearance. Do not attempt to treat hard skin, corns or calluses at home if you suffer from diabetes or problems with sensation or circulation in your feet, which can lead to dangerous infections.
Soak your feet in warm water to soften hard skin and make removal easier. Avoid using harsh soaps when washing or soaking your feet, as soap removes your skin's natural oils, thereby increasing dry skin and making corns and calluses worse.
Rub hard areas with a pumice stone to remove the top layer of thickened skin. Be careful not to rub the stone across soft, live skin, as doing so can cause pain and tissue damage.
Rinse the pumice stone during use to wash away dead skin and debris. This will make removing hardened areas on your feet easier and will prolong the life of your stone.
Apply moisturizing lotion to your feet within three minutes of stepping out of the water. Oil-based ointments work better at trapping moisture inside the skin than water-based lotions, according to the University of Iowa. Do not apply moisturizer between your toes, as doing so increases your risk of bacterial and fungal infections.
Cover hardened areas with petroleum jelly and cover with socks before going to bed at night. As you sleep, the petroleum will soften hard areas and ease dryness. Wash your feet when you wake up with warm water and mild soap.
Visit your doctor to have areas of hard skin cut away. This procedure is called debridement and is typically performed on an outpatient basis. Your doctor may advise you to wear cushions inside your shoes until healing is complete. The New York Times Health Guide warns against cutting away hard skin at home.
Wear well-fitting shoes to encourage healing and prevent calluses from returning. Also, treat any foot or toe deformities that may be contributing to hard skin on your feet. In severe cases, a special insert called a functional orthotic can help relieve pressure. Surgery may be necessary to treat underlying structural problems.