By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Know the basics

What are calluses?

Calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that develop when your skin tries to protect itself against friction and pressure. They usually form on the feet, toes or hands, fingers.

How common are calluses?

This health condition is extremely common because it can happen to patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of calluses?

Calluses are easy to see and touch so we can recognize the symptoms by characteristics below:

  • A thick, rough area of skin;
  • A hardened, raised bump;
  • Tenderness or pain under your skin;
  • Flaky, dry or waxy skin;

Calluses are rarely painful. They usually develop on the soles of your feet, especially under the heels or balls, on your palms, or on your knees. Also, calluses vary in size, shape and are often larger than corns.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

Calluses do not need to be treated. However, if you feel them frustrating or unsightly, you can contact to a dermatologist. Generally, calluses can be removed easily.

Know the causes

What causes calluses?

The cause of calluses may be:

  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes: tight shoes and high heels can compress areas of your foot. When footwear is too loose, your foot may repeatedly slide and rub against the shoe. Your foot may also rub against a seam or stitch inside the shoe.
  • Skipping socks: wearing shoes and sandals without socks can cause friction on your feet, causing calluses.
  • Playing instruments or using hand tools: calluses on your hands may result from the repeated pressure of playing instruments, using hand tools or even writing.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for calluses?

There are many risk factors for calluses, such as:

  • A bunion is an abnormal, bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe.
  • A hammertoe is a deformity in which your toe curls like a claw.
  • Other foot disorders such as a bone spur can cause constant rubbing inside your shoe.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How are calluses diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine your feet and rule out other causes of thickened skin, such as warts and cysts. To make further diagnosis, you may be recommended an x-rays test, which help him or her see if there is any physical abnormality that causes your calluses.

How are calluses treated?

If you have diabetes or poor blood flow, call your doctor before self-treating a corn or callus because even a minor injury to your foot can lead to an infected open sore (ulcer).

Common treatment for calluses are:

  • Trimming away excess skin: your doctor can pare down thickened skin or trim a large corn with a scalpel.
  • Callus-removing medication: salicylic acid is the most common ingredient contained in calluses-removing medication. You can use this medication without prescription. Also, you can get a prescription for salicylic acid in gel form to apply on larger areas.
  • Medication to reduce infection risk: your doctor may suggest applying an antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Foot orthotics: if you have an underlying foot deformity, your doctor may prescribe custom-made padded shoe inserts (orthotics) to prevent recurring calluses.
  • In rare instances, doctor may recommend surgery to correct the alignment of a bone causing friction.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage calluses?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with calluses:

  • Use over-the-counter (OTC) pads: apply a pad to protect the area where a callus developed. You should use this product with the instruction from a doctor.
  • Soaking your hands or feet in warm, soapy water to soften calluses. This can make it easier to remove the thickened skin.
  • During or after bathing, rub a callus with a pumice stone, nail file, emery board or washcloth to help remove a layer of toughened skin. However, remember not to use a sharp object to trim the skin, use a pumice stone if you have diabetes because your skin is easy at higher risk of infection.
  • Apply moisturizer to your hands, feet for keeping the skin soft and prevent calluses from developing.
  • You should wear comfortable shoes, socks and avoid narrow shoes or high-heeled shoes.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: August 18, 2016 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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