Why You Should Be Concerned About Calluses on Your Feet

foot with calluses

Everyone will experience calluses on their feet at some point in their lives. These patches of hard, dried skin are the body's way of protecting the foot from excessive pressure. While calluses are not always a cause for concern, they can be a sign of bigger problems and cause severe injuries down the line.

Why Do I Have Calluses?

Calluses are usually located on parts of the body that bear weight, like the heels and balls of the feet. They can also build up on areas that suffer repeated friction, such as the tips of toes, tops of the toe joints, or the sides of the foot where the skin rubs against the shoe.

Common Causes of Calluses on Feet

  • Daily activities. Standing or walking for long periods places weight-bearing pressure on feet that can cause calluses, particularly if a patient is overweight or wears the same shoes from day to day.
  • Sports injury. Running and playing team sports can place undue pressure on certain parts of the feet, while added bathing and showering can dry out the skin. These can cause calluses to form, especially if you don't have a foot care regimen to control friction and replace lost moisture.
  • Diabetes. Calluses are always a concern for people with diabetes. Patients with neuropathy may not notice a callus developing on their feet—or feel any pain when the callus splits open into a diabetic foot ulcer. If not treated quickly, the wound may become infected or gangrenous, leading to the need for amputation.
  • Systemic problems. Many different conditions can cause dry skin that encourages calluses to form, such as psoriasis, eczema, thyroid problems, natural aging, and medication side effects.

How Podiatrists Help Prevent and Treat Calluses

A podiatrist can be invaluable in both the treatment of calluses and in preventing them from coming back. There are many different methods used to correct calluses, including:

  • Examining your footwear. Ill-fitting shoes are a common cause of calluses in people of every age. Tight or narrow shoes can cause hammertoes that rub against the top of the shoe, while high heels place most of the body's weight on the ball of the foot. We can examine your regular shoes for signs of trouble, determine if your socks are compounding the problem, and advise you on how to choose shoes that fit correctly. 
  • Addressing foot deformities. Bunions, arthritis, misshapen toes, or other foot complaints can cause painful rubbing against the shoe or neighboring toes. If padding and footwear modification doesn't relieve the pressure, surgery may be necessary to correct the deformity.
  • Creating custom orthotics. The location of a callus is key to understanding the underlying cause. For example, patients may suffer calluses along the inside of the heel and ball of the foot due to flat feet, while patients with high arches commonly have calluses on the outside edge of the foot. Custom orthotics can help modify an uneven gait, encouraging even weight distribution and promoting healthy foot structure.
  • Advising you on proper foot care. There are a variety of home care treatments for calluses, but slow and steady interventions are always best. We can show you how to prevent calluses from forming with thorough washing and moisturizing and address rough patches using a pumice stone.
  • Safely removing dead skin. Too many patients attempt to remove their calluses using scissors, razors, rasps, or battery-operated pedicure tools. Unfortunately, these home remedies often cause more harm than good, causing breaks in the skin that bleed and intrude infections into the bloodstream. Our foot care professionals have years of experience removing calluses safely and painlessly.

When Should I Seek Help for a Callus?

Podiatrists can treat calluses at any time, but patients often come to us when calluses have developed into painful secondary conditions. If you have a callus that is swollen, red, painful, or showing other signs of trouble, we can help. Request an appointment online or speak with our team in either Twin Falls or Burley by calling (208) 731-6321.

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