What Is a Pumice Stone?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 22, 2022
5 min read

A pumice stone is a popular skin care tool often used for exfoliation. It works well for tough skin, like your feet, but it can be too harsh for other areas. With a few tips, you can learn to use it properly.

A pumice stone is a type of volcanic rock that forms when lava suddenly cools during an eruption. It’s porous and light and has a spongelike appearance. Many industries use pumice as an abrasive, including health and beauty. 

Ground pumice is an abrasive ingredient in tooth polish used in dentistry, for example. But pumice stone is most commonly used as a mechanical skin exfoliator for removing dead skin. You can find lots of affordable natural or synthetic options.

There are two types of exfoliation: chemical, where you use skin care products or chemicals to gently remove dead skin cells, and mechanical, where you use a device to physically remove dead skin. A pumice stone benefits your skin mainly as a mechanical exfoliator. You can use it to treat a few different skin conditions. 

Warts.A wart is an overgrowth on your skin caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. It can be small or large and grow outward on your skin, like those commonly found on your face, hands, and feet, or grow inward, like plantar warts on the soles of your feet. 

You can treat warts on your hands and feet with a chemical exfoliant like salicylic acid and a pumice stone. The acid will cause the skin cells to slowly peel away, while the pumice stone will help thin the wart and remove all the dead skin cells. The stone helps get to the deeper layers of the wart, where you need to reapply the salicylic acid. 

Corns and calluses. During constant friction and pressure, your skin naturally thickens and hardens to form corns and calluses. Corns are on the tops and sides of your toes and the balls of your feet where your bones press against your skin, usually caused by small shoes. Calluses can happen anywhere your skin constantly rubs against something, often your palms or fingertips.  

The treatment for corns and calluses is to soak your skin in warm water and gently file it with a pumice stone to remove dead cells and refresh your skin. Moisturize the area and use padding to protect your skin, like a bandage or gloves.

Dry skin. You can use a pumice stone to remove dry skin, though it depends on the location and your skin type. A pumice stone is very abrasive, so it works best for exfoliating tough skin, like on your feet. 

Add it to your at-home pedicure or exfoliate your legs, arms, and torso. You’ll likely want to avoid a stone on sensitive areas like your face and if you have acne-prone, sensitive, or very dry skin. 

Prevent ingrown hair. An ingrown hair grows back into or gets trapped under your skin. It causes a sore, itchy, and red bump under your skin. Ingrown hair is a common side effect of shaving, waxing, threading, or plucking, but it can also happen if you have curly or coarse hair. 

You can use a pumice stone to both treat and prevent ingrown hair. To treat, gently exfoliate the area with the stone to remove dead skin and free the hair. Exfoliating problem areas regularly can also help prevent ingrown hair. Be careful not to overexfoliate, or you may irritate your skin.

While using a pumice stone is pretty easy, it can be very harsh on your skin and cause damage if you don’t use it properly. For instance, only use a pumice stone with water and never use it on a sunburn, open wound, or cut. Most importantly, know your skin type. 

Harsh exfoliation can cause your skin to break out and can lead to redness and dark spots, especially if you have sensitive skin. People with darker skin tones are also more likely to have dark patches after harsh exfoliation. In this case, skip the pumice stone and use gentle chemical exfoliants. 

To use a pumice stone:

  1. Wet your skin. If you’re removing hard skin on your heels, a callus, or a wart, soak the area for 5 to 10 minutes first to soften it. 
  2. Wet the pumice and rub it against your skin using light, short strokes without causing pain. Circular or sideways strokes are best. Don’t press too hard, or you might cause redness or irritation.
  3. Continue until you’ve removed the dry skin, but without taking too much. 
  4. Dry the area.
  5. Apply moisturizer to keep your skin soft and smooth. Apply salicylic acid and a bandage or duct tape over any warts.
  6. Repeat as necessary.
  7. Soak your pumice stone in an antibacterial solution once or twice a week to control germs.

Be careful not to take off too much skin or cause an injury. Bacteria can get into these wounds and cause an infection. It’s also best not to share your pumice stone with others, especially if you have warts or athlete’s foot. Your pumice stone will pick up any virus, which will spread if you share it.

While you can use a pumice stone to gently exfoliate your bikini line after shaving, don’t use it for genital problems, like genital warts. Instead, see your doctor for medication or other treatment.

You can find a pumice stone at your local pharmacy, department store, or even the personal care section at the grocery store. They’re available through online stores too.

Your stone can hold bacteria, even if you clean it regularly, so it’s best to replace it once a month. Look for a small stone that’s only a few dollars. That way, it’s easy to use and affordable.

A pumice stone is an easy way to remove dead skin, warts, corns, and calluses, but it might not be appropriate for some people. If you have diabetes, poor circulation, or loss of feeling in your feet, talk to your doctor before using a pumice stone.