Your body has an amazing ability to protect itself with everything from the actions of your immune system to the unique combination of tissues that form the structure of your skin. Unfortunately, these protective mechanisms within your anatomy can produce unwanted symptoms that affect the way you look and feel, such as hand calluses.
Hand calluses are rough areas of skin that are typically raised and bumpy. In some cases, the area of your hands affected by a callus may be discolored red or brown. The area may also appear waxy, crusty, flaky or dry. Calluses typically appear on the palms of your hands and on the undersides of your wrists and fingers.
Though it can come from many sources, friction is the cause of calluses. When you use your hands to perform repetitive tasks, such as using hand tools at work or in the garden, certain areas of your hands are repeatedly exposed to friction. Because the irritation from friction can cause sores and blisters, your skin's natural defense is to thicken in areas subjected to pressure from repetitive tasks. More skin in the area of the callus provides better protection for the underlying tissue to protect it, but has a detrimental effect on the softness, smoothness and appearance of your hands.
In most cases, hand calluses do not require treatment from a medical standpoint as they pose no risk to your health; however, if you have diabetes or another condition that makes it difficult for wounds to heal, hand calluses can pose a risk for serious health complications. Fortunately, hand calluses are easy to treat when the right methods are employed.
When calluses first begin to form, you can soften the skin after performing repetitive tasks to help prevent excessive thickening. Filling a large bowl with warm water and soaking your hands for 10 to 15 minutes has a great softening effect, especially if the water is enhanced with a high quality bath product designed for skin softening.
For very rough calluses, soaking is typically not effective at completely eliminating patches of thickened skin. Instead, you can use mechanical friction to slough off the outer, deadened layers of tissue. When thinning calluses at home, never use scissors to attempt to remove the skin; instead, rely on high quality files or rasps to safely thin calluses.
If you have a compromised immune system due to diabetes or another condition, it is best to have your doctor treat your hand calluses. In the office, your doctor may be able to safely cut away the tissue. Alternatively, you may be prescribed salicylic acid patches to wear over the calluses. Salicylic acid helps to exfoliate the skin, removing the thick, dead tissue that comprises the callus. In addition, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to prevent the area from becoming infected.
A number of beauty treatment products are available to help soften and treat calluses on your skin. If you have many calluses or calluses on your dominant hand that are difficult to remove with a rasp, these products can be of great assistance when used as directed.
If you can't avoid the tasks that caused your calluses, you'll need to take steps to prevent their return. Invest in a pair of protective gloves for gardening, golfing and working with tools. Gloves help reduce the amount of friction to which your hands are subjected thereby decreasing the likelihood that calluses with form.
In addition, it's crucial that you keep your hands well moisturized to ward off the return of calluses. A number of hand creams are available to replenish lost moisture.