A callus is the formation of hard skin on the underside of the foot. They are caused by uneven weight distribution, generally on the bottom of the forefoot or heel. It is normal to have a callus on the soles of your feet. They are also caused by repeated friction, rubbing, and irritation. However, it can be prevented with attention and care.
Compared to corn, callus is larger and more irregular. The callus is also often seen on the hand. Example on the tips of fingers of guitarists, the hands of gymnasts or weightlifters or craftsmen. Here are some facts about calluses.
- Calluses can be due to many reasons
Tight or unfitted shoes are the most common cause of a callus. Shoes that are too tight and continuously rub against your skin can also cause shearing, friction, and pressure. Women who frequently wear high heels develop a callus on their heels because of the pressure to that area. Other reasons can be:
- Long duration of standing, walking, and running.
- Hobbies, sports, or work that continuously puts pressure on your feet or fingers
- Walking barefoot and not wearing socks with footwear.
- Improper posture while walking, putting too much pressure on the inner and outer edge of the foot.
- Structural foot deformities or altered biomechanics (hammertoes, tailor’s bunions, deformities from birth)
- Common Symptoms that should not be ignored.
- Hardened skin area.
- A small, round, raised bump surrounded by irritated skin.
- A thick, hard, large, and flat patch of skin.
- A callus is comparatively less sensitive to touch than the surrounding skin.
- The raised area of the bump may be painful or cause discomfort.
- Pain, redness, blistering.
A callus may not be painful initially but eventually becomes painful over time as they thicken. A callus is less sensitive to touch compared to the normal skin around it. Cracks may form in the callus occasionally which is called fissures. Fissures can be painful. An infected callus causes pain and discomfort.
- Calluses do not require a specific diagnosis.
No tests apart from the visual examination of the affected area are required for the diagnosis. Physicians make the diagnosis through questions about the nature of work, how much you walk or stand, sports, and activities in which you participate. If the affected area is the foot, then the doctor might ask you to check your posture, footwear, and take care of the feet.
- Callus treatment depends upon the symptoms.
For a typical callus, removing the skin build-up is an effective treatment
- Soak the area in warm water for 5-10 minutes until it softens.
- Wet a pumice stone.
- While the skin is still soft, gently move the pumice stone across the callus to remove the dead tissue. Continue to file down the callus by moving the board in one direction. Do not be vigorous as it can cause bleeding or infection.
- Apply moisturizing cream or lotion that contains urea, salicylic acid, or ammonium lactate over the dead skin every day.
Other care tips include:
- Surround your callus with an adhesive pad. The callus should be in the center. This will help protect the callus from irritation and relieve the pain and pressure.
- Wear properly sized footwear that is not too tight. Wear shoes that have more width and height in the toe area.
- Toenails must be trimmed as long toenails push the toe against the top of your shoe, leading to increased friction and pressure. Make sure to cut toenails straight. Do not cut the corners.
- If the callus is painful apply a cold pack for more than 10 – 20 minutes at a time to reduce the pain and swelling.
- Do not cut the callus with any sharp object.
- Do not try to treat the callus by yourself if you have diabetes, poor circulation, infections, or delicate skin. Consult the doctor.
- Avoid OTC products as they contain harsh chemicals. It may injure the surrounding healthy skin if you are unable to apply it precisely.
Surgery is also an option.
Surgery is a treatment option if you have a structural deformity in your foot/ toes that results in the frequent development of a callus. In such a condition, the bone tissue is either removed or realigned if the callus is extremely painful and prevents you from walking comfortably.
- Calluses may have a reoccurrence
Since calluses occur as a result of friction, they can occur anytime. Fortunately, most of the callus gets treated with care at home. However, if you are diabetic or have delicate skin, it is advisable to see a doctor
See your doctor if:
- You have diabetes.
- Have an underlying disease or condition.
- When home remedies provide no benefit
- If you think you have abnormal bone structure.
- If the callus is painful and the pain gradually worsens.
- Arthritis in your feet, bunions, bone spurs, hammertoes.
- Walking without socks.
- Unfitted shoes that are too narrow for feet.
- Cigarette smokers.
If left untreated, a callus might grow in size or become infected. The condition is painful and makes walking difficult. You may need medical or surgical intervention depending upon the severity of the condition.