Calluses: They Aren’t Just a Cosmetic Issue

Calluses on your feet can definitely be unsightly. They may even make you feel self-conscious about wearing sandals. These thick, hardened layers of skin, which develop as a result of friction or pressure, are usually painless.

And while you may feel tempted to ignore your calluses and hope they go away, that’s not always a good idea. Calluses can sometimes be a sign of a problem that needs attention, especially if you have diabetes. In this blog, Kerry E. Berg, DPM, of Intermountain Foot & Ankle Associates explains how calluses develop and how they can be treated.

How calluses develop

Calluses can develop on any part of your body where there is repeated friction or pressure. For example, if you play guitar, you may develop calluses on the hand that holds the fretboard. But, they more commonly develop on the feet due to, for example, going barefoot a lot or wearing poorly fitting shoes.

Furthermore, people with diabetes have a higher chance of developing calluses, because diabetes can lead to the development of neuropathy. Neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves, and it can lead to a lack of sensation in the feet. This, in turn, can cause someone to not know their feet are rubbing on an area of their footwear.

The importance of footwear

Calluses are your body’s natural defense system against friction and pressure. One big risk factor for developing calluses is going barefoot. But wearing the wrong shoes can cause calluses as much or more than wearing no shoes at all.

Shoes that are too loose or too tight can cause calluses. Shoes that are too tight can put too much pressure on your feet, and shoes that are too loose can cause your feet to rub against your shoes. In either case, your feet can develop calluses to protect against getting blisters.

Another common cause of developing calluses is not wearing socks with your footwear. Not wearing socks puts your feet in constant contact with your footwear, which can lead to the development of calluses.

Treating calluses at home

You may be able to treat your calluses by simply changing your footwear habits. If you normally wear sandals without socks, for example, the problem may go away if you start wearing socks with your footwear.

Furthermore, your calluses may also go away if you change the activities you engage in. For example, if you run in marathons, the calluses may go away if you choose different activities.

You can also use over-the-counter medicated pads to help your calluses go away. However, you should use these pads with caution, because many of these pads contain salicylic acid, which can damage the healthy skin around the calluses.

Furthermore, you can try soaking your feet in warm, soapy water to soften the calluses, which may make them easier to remove. You can also try removing the calluses with a pumice stone.

When you should see a doctor

If your callus is infected, you should see Dr. Berg to treat it. You’ll know that a callus is infected if the skin is red, hot, painful, or oozing.

Furthermore, if you have diabetes, you should also see Dr. Berg to treat it. People with diabetes have a higher chance of developing infections, because diabetes often causes circulation problems in the feet.

As mentioned earlier, many over-the-counter pads to treat calluses contain salicylic acid, which can damage the healthy skin around the calluses. And if you have diabetes, you don’t want to create the potential for any kind of injury to your feet. And the same goes for using a pumice stone. Using one if you have diabetes could lead to injury and infection, so you shouldn’t use them.

If you have diabetes, an infection, or if at-home tips don’t help you remove your calluses, Dr. Berg can help. She’ll first give your foot a thorough examination. Then she’ll recommend treatment options, such as trimming the calluses, wearing custom orthotics, or, in rare cases, getting surgical treatment.

To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Intermountain Foot & Ankle Associates today.

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