During the warmer months, most people opt for lightweight and airy flip-flops or sandals rather than closed-toe shoes. Showing off those smooth and silky feet is a great way to feel attractive and confident. However, individuals with unsightly calluses on their feet may feel embarrassed to wear any shoes that expose the thick, rough patches of skin. Aside from their unsightly appearance, calluses can sometimes cause discomfort, making them a problem even during the colder months when feet are not exposed. Thousands of people have calluses on their feet, and the condition is fairly simple to treat.
What Are Foot Calluses?
Foot calluses are thick patches of skin that can be dark in color or dusty and cracked in texture. Many people have calluses on their feet. Calluses most commonly form on the knuckles of the toes or on the heels and balls of the feet. The affected areas can feel rough and take on a dry appearance. Calluses are basically dead skin that has hardened over softer portions of the skin. The hardened skin protects the areas underneath, but may grow to large enough sizes that they can cause discomfort
What Causes Foot Calluses?
Foot calluses form as a result of consistent friction on a specific area of the foot, and are quite common for those who are physically active or are constantly on their feet. When the skin is exposed to friction, the surface level of skin cells dies and becomes tough instead of falling off naturally. Layer by layer, the callus is thickened to form a protective barrier that protects the skin from further damage resulting from friction. Calluses are unsightly and embarrassing, but they are simply the body's way of protecting itself against damage.
Possible complications that may arise from untreated calluses include:
- Difficulty walking due to pain or discomfort
- Altered posture and movement due to a prolonged habit of avoiding pain caused by calluses
- Infection of inflammation
Preventing Foot Calluses from Forming
Often, prevention is the best medicine for effectively dealing with excessive calluses forming on the feet. Instead of trying to remove tough calluses, you can take steps to prevent them from ever forming.
- Wearing roomy shoes is very important in the prevention of callus formation. Constant friction from tight or uncomfortable shoes can cause the skin on the foot to die and thicken.
- Wearing protective padding inside your shoe can also help to prevent the formation of calluses and corns.
- Orthopedic inserts with gel cushioning or padded cushioning can make the bottom surface of your shoe more absorbent of downward force which reduces friction.
Treating Foot Calluses for Smoother Feet
There are many different ways in which calluses can be treated. Individuals with thick calluses on their feet can achieve smooth feet once again by using over the counter medication, soaking and sanding methods or pedicure razors to remove thick calluses permanently. Some individuals purchase over the counter medication that is designed to remove calluses from the feet. This over the counter medication has the same active ingredient that is found in both over the counter wart removal products and acne treatments: salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a powerful ingredient that dissolves the protein in the thick skin of a callus. When the protein is dissolved, the callus slowly wears away. Callus removal medication comes in the form of lotions, drops or medicated pads.
Calluses can also be removed with a soaking and sanding procedure:
- First the callus is soaked in warm water to make it more malleable.
- Then, the consumer can use an abrasive material such as a pumice stone to gradually remove the dead skin layer by layer.
- Removing calluses in this way is often a very tedious procedure, but this method provides the most consistently successful results.
Individuals can also use special blades called callus shavers or pedicure razors. These razors are made for gliding over the callus and removing thin layers of skin until the thick pad has been completely shaved away.
Calluses can be uncomfortable and unsightly, and many people worry about their unsightly calluses when the summer months roll back around. However, with these simple treatment methods, calluses don't have to be a lifelong problem. It is important to remember to protect the area where a callus has recently been removed to prevent a new one from forming and to keep your feet smooth and attractive.