Soaking your feet can soften dry skin while soothing aching or tired feet. While commercial foot baths are available, these are often costly and difficult to customize. By making your own homemade foot soak, you can alter the concentration of ingredients to ensure you obtain the most benefits, while reducing the likelihood of skin irritation caused by the unnecessary addition of chemicals or preservatives. If your dry skin is severe, or if you develop cracks or other symptoms, consult your doctor for advice.
Lay an absorbent towel or pad down on the floor where you intend to soak your feet. This will prevent damage to your floor or carpet if any water spills during your foot soak.
Fill a basin two-thirds full with warm water. The basin should be large enough to comfortably fit both of your feet. If the basin is too heavy to move once full, place it in the desired location and use a pitcher to fill it. The American Geriatrics Society recommends not using hot water, as doing so can worsen dryness and cause tissue damage.
Add 1 cup of Epsom salts to the warm water. Use your hand or a large plastic spoon to mix the water until the salts are fully dissolved.
Mix in 1 tablespoon of baking soda per quart of water if you suffer from dry skin and foot odor. In addition to relieving dry skin, soaking in baking soda will make the pH of your skin more acidic so that it is less hospitable to the bacteria responsible for foot odor, according to Dr. Suzanne M. Levine, a podiatrist at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Experiment with herbs or essential oils to moisturize your skin and add fragrance to your foot soak. SkinHelp.co.uk recommends peppermint, aloe vera, chamomile and fennel to relieve dryness. The MarthaStewart.com Web site suggests adding spearmint or lemon essential oil to the water to soothe tired feet.
Remove your feet from the foot bath when the water turns cold or after 20 minutes. If you notice increased dryness, itching, rash or other symptoms, stop soaking your feet and consult your doctor.
Moisturize dry, rough or itchy feet after soaking by applying a moisturizing lotion to dry areas while your feet are still damp. Severely dry skin may benefit from an oil-based moisturizing ointment, as these are more effective at holding moisture inside the skin.
Dry your feet thoroughly after soaking them. This is especially important if you suffer from toenail fungus or athlete's foot, as the fungi responsible for these conditions thrive in moist environments. Do not rub your skin dry, as this can worsen dryness and irritation. Instead, gently pat your feet with a soft towel.
Soaking your feet for 20 minutes each day in a solution of two parts water to one part vinegar may help combat toenail fungus and foot odor, according to MayoClinic.com. Vinegar can be drying, however, and you should reduce the concentration of vinegar or cut back on the frequency of your soaks if you notice a worsening of your condition or develop irritation.
Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."