Regularly spending time in the pool or in open water can take a serious toll on the appearance, feel, and health of the skin on your hands and feet. Chlorine, other pool chemicals, ocean salt, other compounds, and even just prolonged submersion strip moisture from your skin.
Dried-out hands and feet are a cosmetic concern, undermining the fact that you swim to look your best (among plenty of other reasons). But the problems go beyond that. The itching and irritation can get really unpleasant, and even wearing shoes may become uncomfortable.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Some basic routine skincare protocols help keep your hands and feet hydrated and healthy. Use the tips below to keep your swimmer’s hands and feet looking and feeling great, no matter how often you swim or how many hours you spend in the water.
Swimmer’s Hand and Foot Skincare Tips
- Shower promptly after swimming, washing yourself with a product like Soap+ that’s specially formulated to remove chlorine and other compounds from your skin
- Don’t shower or bathe too long—keep it to 10 minutes or less—because more prolonged water exposure will further dry out your hands and feet; also, don’t use hot water, as it too has drying effects on your skin
- Skip the scrubbing with a washcloth or loofah when you shower, as this may irritate the skin on your hands and feet; blot them dry afterwards, too, rather than rub them with a towel
- Apply moisturizer liberally to all the surface area of your hands and feet right after showering and gently drying off; remember, moisturizers primarily work by locking moisture existing moisture in, not by adding it to your skin
- Shower or bathe as infrequently as possible; with all the water exposure from swimming and showering after, your hands and feet don’t need any more soaking time than is necessary
- When you can’t shower after a swim, neutralize the chemicals on your hands, feet, and the rest of your skin with Swim Wipes
- Soak your hands or feet in a bowl of cold whole milk for about 10 minutes when they get dried out; alternatively, coat them in full-fat yogurt for the same amount of time
- Add a few drops of lavender, rose, or bergamot essential oil to water and spray it on your hands and feet for an effective, natural, homemade moisturizer
- Flip-flops are an essential swimmer’s accessory, but limit use to when you need them around the water; frequent use can cause cracked heels and other foot problems
- Don’t put socks or tight shoes on until your feet have completely dried
- Make sure your hands have fully dried after a swim before going out in the cold; wear gloves in cold weather
- Pumice-based pastes or a pumice stone can help with dry, thick, callused, and cracked skin on your feet—especially your heels, a common problem area
- Treat yourself to an occasional manicure and pedicure
- Familiarize yourself with the best ways to protect yourself against athlete’s foot infections