Written by Lisa Allen | Edited by Dr Mark Kapnoudhis
Nothing is worse than suffering from a callus. No matter where the callus forms, it is a daily annoyance. Luckily, there are some ways to treat and prevent calluses from occurring so you can get on with your life and not have to worry about it ruining your daily routine. By following these simple steps, you can lead a life that is callus-free.
Calluses occur when there is an excessive buildup of tough layers of skin. Calluses appear mostly on the hands and feet. When the skin toughens and forms the think callus layer, it not only feels uncomfortable but is unsightly looking as well. Often the patches of callus will be whiter in appearance, dry and scaly. Dealing with callus on the feet can rip nylon stockings and cause foot pain while wearing shoes. On the hands, callus can make it embarrassing to be close to anyone and can snare on your clothing.
The most common places where calluses appear on the feet are the balls of the feet, heel and or inside the big toe. Most calluses on the feet happen when there is too much pressure on a specific area of the foot. Wearing high-heeled dress shoes, shoes that are too small, abnormal walking, flat feet, arched feet, loss of fat padding on the bottom of the foot and being obese can all contribute to calluses.
Calluses on the hands occur mostly in people who are very active and work a lot with their hands. These calluses usually appear at the base of the fingers but normally are not painful. From gardeners, to athletes and carpenters, the formation of calluses can actually help them in their daily work by protecting the skin from further damage and blisters.
Surprisingly, calluses play a role in protecting your skin. When the skin is damaged, calluses prevent the pressure and friction from irritating the skin further. Without it, the area would turn into a blister. The best way to avoid dealing with blisters and calluses altogether is to practice wearing gloves when playing sports or doing household activities such as gardening or raking the leaves. For added protection, wear moisturizer first and then put on the gloves to reduce friction. Cotton gloves are best for gardening and yard work.
To protect your feet, wear shoes that fit properly, avoid standing in high-heeled shoes for long periods of time and try wearing orthopedic inserts so that your weight is distributed evenly throughout your foot to alleviate pressure. Do not make the mistake of using a razor blade or knife to cut away or trim your callus. This can lead to cuts and infections.
One way to deal with calluses at home is to use a moisturizing foot cream that contains lactic acid or urea. Other helpful ingredients include alpha hydroxy acids and glycolic acid. First soak your feet in water and then apply the moisturizer. Doing this routine over time will gradually soften and slough off the callus. While in the shower you can also use a pumice stone to gently slough off the callus while it is soft and wet. However, don’t overdo it by scrubbing too hard or you can cause damage to your skin.
If your callus is very painful or hasn’t gone away after a long time, make an appointment to see your doctor. There are procedures that can be done to remove the callus safely.