Calluses on the feet are a common occurrence, but fortunately, it is not difficult to learn how to treat calluses on your own. A callus is an area where dead skin has accumulated to form a thick, protective patch. Calluses develop on parts of your skin that are exposed to an unusual amount of pressure or friction on a regular basis and therefore need to be tougher than the rest of your skin.
Calluses on the feet are common in people who walk around barefoot outdoors, wear shoes that pinch (in which case the calluses develop on the outside of the big and little toes), or wear open-backed shoes (calluses develop under and around the heel). Some calluses on the balls of the feet are caused by shoes that are too loose: The callus develops when the foot consistently rides forward inside the shoe with each step. Other calluses develop on the balls of the feet or just behind the toes because the foot has a low or high arch.
Calluses can begin to hurt if they become too thick. If you have a callus that hurts, try padding your shoe in the spot where the callus touches it with a callus pad or moleskin, which is available in most drugstores. Another solution is to use custom-made orthotics (insoles) that will not only relieve the pressure on the painful callus but also redistribute the abnormal forces causing the callus. Ask your doctor about these.
You can also try soaking your foot in warm water for about 20 minutes, then scrubbing the calloused area with a brush and applying softening cream; do this at least twice a week. (See the page of this article on Dry Skin and Foot Pain for some special foot-softening recipes.) Do not, however, try to cut off a callus.
In some situations, a callus is caused by something other than the usual wear and tear on your feet. Intractable plantar keratosis is very deep callus material that develops under the ball of the foot due to a problem with the metatarsal (foot) bone. This condition can be very painful. Treatment usually consists of padding, custom-made insoles, and sometimes surgery to realign the metatarsal bone.
Another common foot problem that can be caused by shoes are corns. Continue to the next page to learn about alleviating those.
To learn more about treating and avoiding problems with your feet, visit:
- Foot Injuries: Find out how to avoid unpleasant injuries to your feet, or at least reduce pain and prevent infection after they occur, with these simple suggestions.
- How to Care for Your Feet: Learn how to keep your feet -- and yourself -- healthy and happy with these tips on caring for your feet, including selecting the right shoes.