The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Keep It Smooth: Choosing and Using Foot Lotion

Posted by on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012


It’s winter. The air is dust dry. You spend your days with your feet buried under socks and shoes or boots. You spend your night with your feet snuggled in more socks and under blankets. Is there any wonder that your feet look and feel like a lost hiker stumbling out of a desert, mouthing, “I’m thirsty”?

Never fear, there are a multitude of foot lotions and creams designed to make your feet look and feel less like crocodile skin and more like, well, normal, happy skin. Here are some things you should know about choosing and applying foot lotion:

Ingredients: When you start looking for foot lotions, you’ll notice one ingredient coming up over and over again: peppermint. People love peppermint in their toothpaste, love it with chocolate in their Girl Scout Thin Mints or Peppermint Patties, and love it in their schnapps, unless they drank way too much of that when they were freshmen in college and got sicker than they’ve ever been in their entire life and now reflexively feel like vomiting if they even see a bottle of peppermint schnapps. So if we love to eat and sometimes drink things made with peppermint, why should we also put it on our feet?

No, the answer is not that some of the same people who like mint chocolate ice cream also like to lick feet (that’s a whole other topic, and besides, the other ingredients in a lotion are probably not something you want to eat). The answer is, of course, that peppermint oil has the same kind of cooling effect on your feet that you feel in your mouth after you’ve brushed your teeth, or crunched through a Tic Tac. Peppermint increases blood circulation and will give your beaten feet a nice little tingle. Soon feet that were hot and dry after a day of standing and walking while packed into heavy socks and shoes will feel as cool as a Mento. The bonus is that you can also put it on your calves or any other part of your leg that’s aching, and soon you’ll be ready to go run another marathon.

Peppermint doesn’t just cool off your feet, though. It’s also an anti-fungal and antiseptic that will kill the kind of bacteria that make your feet reek. Combined with moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil or shea butter, peppermint foot lotions are one of the best presents you can give your dry hot feet.

If you want a foot lotion that will help break down calluses and exfoliate your feet, look for lotions or creams that contain urea and salicylic acid. Kerasal is a popular brand for this kind of task.

Applying Some people put on foot lotion in the morning, but I don’t know how much sense that makes. You’d either have to wait until the lotion completely absorbed before putting on your socks and shoes or risk walking around in gummy socks all day. I don’t know many people who have a lot of time in the morning to sit around and wait for their feet to dry, unless they are the lady of the manor at Downton Abbey. Instead, the best tack to take is to put some lotion on your feet right before you go to bed and then put socks on. Don’t overdo the lotion either—just put enough on to feel the moisture; Your feet should be able to absorb it, not drown in it.

There—keep your feet moisturized in the winter and when it comes time to toss off the boots and heavy socks, your feet will be flip flop ready!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.