A callus is a thickened area of skin that appears on areas of the body exposed to repeated friction or irritation. The classic examples are those people get on their feet when they wear a pair of shoes that don’t fit properly. These thickened areas feel rough and bumpy to the touch, but they usually aren’t painful unless they grow very large or rub against shoes that irritate them. They also form quite commonly on hands exposed to friction from using instruments or even writing with a pencil or pen for a long period of time.
What Causes Them?
Calluses are a reaction to repeated irritation and friction. In response to the constant irritation and rubbing, skin cells in the outermost layer of the skin build up to provide an additional layer of protection. They aren’t a health threat, but they can be unsightly to look at. Most people don’t want to put on a pair of sandals when they have calluses on their feet.
How Are They Treated?
Calluses don’t require treatment unless they become uncomfortable or it becomes difficult to wear shoes because of them. Still, most people want to treat them for cosmetic reasons. The best home treatment is to soak the calloused area in warm water to soften it. Once it’s softened, use a pumice stone to buff away the excess skin over the callus. For stubborn foot calluses, particularly those on the heels, you can use a file to scrub away the excess skin with a few passes to reveal softer skin underneath. Files often do the job quickly and with less arm work than a pumice stone and they are effective for even tough calluses.
After you’ve removed those stubborn calluses, ease dryness and cracks with a moisturizing foot cream. Look for ingredients like vitamin E, sunflower oil and glycerin to nourish and rehydrate dry, cracked feet. This will get your feet in sandal-ready shape in no time. Continue to use a moisturizing foot formula that keeps feet feeling smooth and silky all year round.
One word of warning: Diabetics or people with poor circulation shouldn’t try to treat calluses or other foot problems at home and should instead see a doctor because they have a greater risk of infection.
Protecting Feet and Toes That Are Callused
It can be uncomfortable to put on certain types of shoes with calluses. Until they’re trimmed down and have completely healed, wear toe pads or other protective covering to reduce friction and irritation. It’s best to avoid shoes that rub against the area or don’t fit properly, especially high heels or sandals. Make sure your socks fit properly too since they can collect moisture and rub against feet and toes. Shoes that fit well are a must for avoiding calluses if you do a lot of walking or running. Runners are quite prone to calluses and other foot problems. When working with hand-held instruments, wear gloves to prevent hand calluses.
The Bottom Line?
Calluses aren’t harmful or dangerous, but they’re unattractive, and they make it difficult to wear shoes. But in most cases, they can be safely treated at home by softening the area and buffing away the excess tissue. Once they’re removed, it’s important to choose footwear that won’t cause the problem to come back, but keep supplies on hand just in case they do.