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What are Calluses?

Calluses are an accumulation of dead skin cells that harden and thicken over time in an area of the foot. It is formed as part of the body’s defense mechanism to protect the foot against excessive pressure and friction that if too thick can become problematic. Calluses are normally found on the ball-of-the-foot, and/or the side of the big toe and can also be found in conjunction with corns. Callus can also form on different areas of the foot and may require the help of a podiatrist to figure out why they are occurring.

Some calluses are extremely deep and can even cause the skin beneath it to become quite fibrous. This particular type of callus can be especially painful when put under pressure and usually occurs on the ball of the foot. With these sorts off callus it is important to get some help and work with your podiatrist before it gets worse.

Causes of Callus?

Calluses usually develops due to excessive pressure or friction on a specific area of the foot just as a corn does. Some common causes of this increased friction or pressure include high-heels, shoes that are too small, obesity, abnormalities in the gait cycle (the way you walk), flat feet, high arched feet, unusual shaped feet, and the loss of the ever so wonderful fat pad cushioning on the bottom of the foot.

Treatment and Prevention of Callus?

Its not uncommon for people to dig around at callus with a razor blade, however its pretty dangerous and most of the time doesn’t address the cause of the callus. Its probably worth noting that diabetics and other people with compromised feet should never try this type of treatment as its too risky and they could put themselves at risk of loosing a limb.

The first step to getting rid of calluses is using a good quality moisturising cream twice daily or as needed on the area. Depending on the amount of callus it may help to exfoliate the area regularly as well. This can be done by first soaking your feet in some warm and gentle water with a few scoops of foot soak until your feet become nice and soft. Then with a pumice stone or similar, gently exfoliate the area and then follow up with a good quality moisturising cream. If needed this may be done regularly, as often as once or twice a week to keep them under control.

The best way to get rid of callus is to have it removed professionally. Whilst there, your podiatrist can help to figure out the cause of the callus. Once removed professionally, many people can then work at home to maintain their feet by eliminating the cause of the callus (where possible) and by regularly using exfolliants and intense moisturisers on the feet. In some feet, where callus is more of a concern, a regular maintenance may be required. If walking is the problem behind your callus, you may need the help of an orthotic to redistribute the weight in the feet properly and take the pressure away from the problem areas.

Thanks to Emma Supple from the College of Podiatry
for this great simple explanation of corns and callus in the following video:

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