Everyone knows if you step onto mud or other dirty places, you will come back with both dirty black feet. That is common sense.
But what I am referring to is folks who have feet that seemed to act like dirt vacuums. That is, your feet tends to trap dirt easily and it’s difficult to get it off. Some people who walked on dirty floors can easily clean their feet with some easy rinse. Dirt gets off quickly.
For some, it is not so. Not only their feet gets dirty easily, it is hard for dirt to come off. And normally, the same individual is also prone to the following:
- cracked heels
- dry peeling skin at the feet
Why causes this condition to occur?
Our feet is designed to walk on uneven path. Our ancestors walked on sandy hill dirt forest paths- often stepping into pebbles, small sharp stones and thorns. But today, most of us walked on even, tiled roads. We seldom take off our shoes. In the process, the layer of skin covering our feet had got thinner and thinner.
As the skin is thin and less durable, it gets dirty easily and difficult to be cleaned. It is also less durable so cracked heels also become common.
How to overcome this condition
This condition is common amongst city dwellers. You will need to do the following (ideally after bathing or at night before retiring for the day):
1. Wash your feet with soap.
2. Take a feet filer – scrub some soap on it- the surface of the feet filer can capture scrapes of soap.
3. When the feet is moist, file your feet using the use a feet filer. I know some instructions suggest that you use a feet filer on dry feet- it is most effective if you use soap and water with the filer on a wet feet, not when your feet is dry.
3. Scrape till all the dirt gets off. Cracked heels can be painful- when using the filer, gently brush against the dirt on the cracked area. The same goes for other part of your feet that had either cracked.
4. Then, you have apply lotion or moisturizer to your feet. Any brand will do but I find the one by Scholl to be quite effective. After applying the moisturizer, if you are walking on floors that will make your feet dirty again, make sure you wear socks and/or slippers. You need to apply moisturizers to moisturize the skin.
5. But if you need to walk around with the painful cracked heel, then put on plasters- use those elastic fabric type so that it sticks to your heel better (the plastic or waterproof type are not effective and will come off easily). If you are applying plaster, then you will not be able to apply moisturizer.
You need to do this consistently until you see improvement. If you scrape your feet today and the next time you do it is a few months’ time, it will not be effective.
Also, if you have cracked heels or cracking skin at the side of your feet, you would need to examine your footwear and your gait (ie posture). Bunions, cracking skin at the side can original from postural imbalance or muscle imbalance. It is best to get further professional consultation from a podiatrist or occupational therapist- because if unchecked, it could lead to future problems like arthritis, knee pain, lower back or hip pain.
And if your feet is literally killing you all the time (cracks, bunions, etc), perhaps you will need to give up the vanity that comes with wearing high heels (the same goes for any shoes where the heel area is higher than the front part).
But if you want a permanent solution, and can afford the time off, then you can consider packing your bags and going go back to live with nature 🙂
Condition your feet to walk on uneven, dirty ground of hills and forest path- and clean it using the steps above. Then a thicker layer of skin will develop. And yes, your feet will still get dirty, but you can wash off quickly. Interested to give it a try?
Note: This is detailed in accounts by some Westerners who ordained as monks in Thailand. Initially when they walked barefoot for miles on almsround, their feet got dirty and sometimes bled from stepping on small and sharp stones as they have very thin skin (having grown up to wearing shoes and walking on even and clean surfaces all their lives). After sometime of dealing with the pain (and bleeding), the surface of their feet thicken and they were able to walk barefoot with no problem.
Update @ 2018:
Recently I have to make an overseas trip and is faced with my cracked heels which the skin had hardened considerably as I have gotten too lazy to clean. The skin on other surfaces including the area behind my big toe had also started to crack. I did not want to embarrass myself in front of others when they see my dirty feet.
The few nights leading to the trip, I washed my heels clean. This procedure is best done before you sleep. Initially I brushed off the surface dirty with a clothes brush where I scrapped some soap on it. This has to be done when the feet is wet as the hardened cracked skin would soften. If the cracked skin is really hard, soak your feet in a tub of warm water.
Then I scrapped a bar of soap on my feet filer and continue scrapping off the dead skin on my heels. You would probably not get rid of all the cracks and dead skin on the first night. After that, make sure you do not walk on any dirty or dusty surface. Wear a pair of clean slippers if you have to.
Once you are on your bed, apply moisturizer on your feet. Any brand of moisturizer would do- but preferably those that marked as deeply mosturizing and does not make your feet too oily after the mosturizer has dried up. Wait for a while as the mosturizer seeps into the pores of your feet. Then apply for second or third time. After it dries up, wear a pair of socks over your feet.
The night, repeat the process again.
I only managed to do this procedure for 2 nights and it made a lot of difference to my feet. Most of the hardened skin have been removed and while dirt still stuck to my feet like glue, it was not as much and easier to get off.