What Are Calluses?

A callus is a part of the skin that's become thick and toughened due to:

  • Pressure
  • Friction
  • Irritation

They occur often on the feet, but you can also get them on your elbows, hands, or knees.

They're pale or yellowish in color and can feel lumpy to the touch. They're typically wider and bigger than corns and have less defined edges. They commonly show up where you frequently rub your skin against something, like

Dermatologist examining a foot for callus and dry skin, towards white

Causes of Calluses

Some calluses and corns on your feet could develop from an incorrect walking motion, but most are due to shoes that don't fit well. The worst offenders are high-heeled shoes. They put a lot of pressure on your toes and can cause foot problems. Other causes of calluses or corns are:

  • Sandals without socks
  • Foot deformities
  • Wearing shoes without socks

These all lead to friction on your feet.

Pressure or rubbing can cause either plantar calluses or soft corns. If you develop a callus that doesn't have a clear source of pressure, you'll want a doctor to look at it since it could be caused by a splinter or other foreign body trapped under your skin or a wart. 

Symptoms of Calluses

You might have a callus or corn if you notice:

  • A raised, hardened bump
  • A rough, thick area of the skin
  • Dry, flaky, or waxy skin
  • Pain or tenderness under your skin

Treatments for Calluses

Callus treatment typically involves you avoiding repetitive actions that made you develop them in the first place. Often you can resolve them by:

  • Using protective pads
  • Wearing properly fitting shoes
  • Taking other self-care measures

If a callus becomes painful or persists despite home treatments, you may require medical treatment by a podiatrist, such as:

  • Callus-removing medication: Your podiatrist might apply a 40% salicylic acid patch on the callus or corn. 
  • Trimming excess skin away: The podiatrist can use a scalpel to pare down thickened skin, typically during the office visit.
  • Shoe inserts: The podiatrist might prescribe custom-made orthotic shoes to prevent recurring calluses or corns.
  • Surgery: The podiatrist might suggest surgery, in rare instances, for correcting the alignment of the bone that is causing the friction.

Most calluses go away gradually when the pressure or friction that's causing them stops. If you're not sure what's causing your callus, if you have diabetes, or if the hardened skin is painful, you will need to see a podiatrist for treatment. Book an appointment with Red Mountain Footcare in Mesa, AZ for callus treatment by Dr. Spencer Hardy today.