Exfoliation is the practice of removing hard skin and dead skin cells with an abrasive agent such as sugar, citric acid or a pumice stone. The practice is used all over the body to slough off unwanted skin and reveal fresh, healthy skin underneath. Foot ailments like corns, calluses and heel fissures benefit greatly from exfoliation.
There are two types of exfoliants: chemical and mechanical. Examples of chemical exfoliants include products that contain alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs), citric acid, salicylic acid and fruit enzymes. Examples of mechanical exfoliants include sugar, salt, pumice stones, loofah sponges, mircrofiber cloths and brushes.
Ancient Egyptians are credited with introducing the practice of exfoliation to the world, and it has become a standard beauty ritual in many cultures. Exfoliating is generally safe, but over exfoliation can cause redness and irritation.