Callus 3 min read

How to treat and remove a callus

How to treat and remove a callus How to treat and remove a callus How to treat and remove a callus

Calluses are typically not serious but can cause discomfort or sometimes even pain, due to the pressure exerted on the underlying tissues by the thickened lump of skin. In order to keep or restore your personal comfort, it is important to treat your calluses.

How to treat calluses?

Calluses are reactions to excessive pressure on the heel, the forefoot or the palm of your hand. By eliminating the source of pressure, they will probably resolve on their own. If you decide to start treating your callus, keep in mind that this can be a long process and it may not be achieved in a single day.

Refrain from using sharp objects to cut big chunks of callus since injury may occur and lead to bleeding and/or infection.

Please note that, if you have insensitive skin due to poor circulation, diabetes or nerve damage, you should consult a doctor or chiropodist before treating your calluses.

Remove calluses:

  • Step 1: soften the callus – Calluses are very thick and stiff so it is recommended to first soften them up. You can achieve this by soaking the affected part (typically your hand or your foot) in warm and soapy water. Adding Epsom salts in the soaking solution might have an additive effect. You can also use commercially available exfoliating creams to soften the skin. Another option is to use over-the-counter liquids or ointments containing salicylic acid, which helps to dissolve the keratin structure that makes up the dead skin. These treatments should only be used cautiously as the salicylic acid might irritate the surrounding healthy skin. If irritation occurs, you should ask your pharmacist for advice.Alternatively, you can use COMPEED® Callus plasters. They contain a special gel (hydrocolloid technology), which provides moisture while protecting and cushioning the callus. They will relieve discomfort or pain should you be experiencing any.
  • Step 2: File the callus with a pumice stone or foot file. – Once the callus is softened, you can file it with a pumice stone. Dip the pumice stone in water and then gently remove the dead skin by circular or sideways motions. You can also use a foot file as an exfoliating tool. Pay attention not to remove too much skin as this might cause bleeding and infection. Instead, remove only small amounts and repeat the action regularly until the callus disappears.
  • Step 3: keep your skin moisturised – After filing the callus, it is important to moisturise the trimmed skin in order to keep it soft. Any skin lotion will do the job. Applying a COMPEED® Callus plaster will help to keep the callus wound moisturised and help it to heal.

What causes a callus?

Calluses are patches of hardened yellow skin caused by friction, rubbing, irritation or pressure of the skin against another surface. You are most likely to get calluses on the hands and feet, as this is where repeated friction is most likely to occur. Some people get calluses from abnormal walking or foot positioning, but you can also get them from your shoes. You may get calluses from wearing poorly fitting socks and shoes. If your shoes are too tight, they may press against parts of the feet and irritate them. If your shoes are loose, your foot may slide around and rub against the surface of the shoe and lead to friction. People who wear high heels may experience more calluses, because of the added pressure on the toes. Seams and stitches within the shoe can also rub against the foot and cause a callus. Wearing shoes without socks may cause calluses as the foot is more exposed. You can also develop calluses on the hands, for example by playing a guitar, using tools or lifting weights.

Where do calluses form?

Corns and calluses are thick, protective layers of skin caused by repetitive friction or pressure to the area where the callus has formed. Calluses can form over any bony part of the body, but they are most commonly seen on the hands and feet as that is where repetitive friction or pressure is most likely to occur. Calluses often form on the heel, ball and underside of the big toe on the foot or on the palms of the hands just under the fingers and the soft underside of the fingers. However, they can appear anywhere where the skin has experienced friction or irritation.

How to prevent calluses from developing and avoid reoccurrence:

To avoid calluses on the feet, you need to reduce the point of pressure and rubbing on your feet and hands.

Limit yourself as much as possible from wearing shoes that alter your weight distribution such as high-heeled or high-arched shoes. If your job requires you to wear this type of shoe, try to take some of the pressure off your feet by walking to and from the office in well-fitting, comfortable shoes or trainers. Try to decrease heel height as much as possible.

Take care of your shoes by repairing them or replacing them regularly. Worn-out soles typically are not very good at cushioning your feet. Also if you notice that the soles or heels of your shoes tend to wear unevenly, you might want to talk to a chiropodist or podiatrist about corrective shoes or insoles.

Calluses can happen on hands, so wearing protective, padded gloves can help if you use tools.

If your job requires of you to wear stylish shoes (i.e. not ergonomic) try to take some of the pressure off your feet by walking to and from the office in well-fitting athletic shoes.

How do you treat a callus?

Calluses don’t usually hurt and can usually be treated at home unless you have a medical condition.  The first thing you should do is soak the callused area in warm water and gently towel dry. This can help soften the skin, and sometimes help you remove the callus layer by layer with no other intervention required. You can also try adding Epsom salts, apple cider vinegar, castor oil, tea-tree oil or baking soda to the water.  You can buy specific callus plasters, like these ones from Compeed®. Compeed® callus plasters are designed to create a moist protective environment which can help soften the callus whilst simultaneously cushioning and relieving discomfort from the area. Don’t try to cut the callus off with a knife – instead, you may want to use a pumice stone and rub in a gentle circular motion  to remove the coarse skin a bit at a time.

Will a callus go away by itself?

Calluses aren’t usually a cause for concern for healthy people and can often be treated with home remedies or over-the-counter products. Calluses will usually go away by themselves, but this can sometimes take months or, in severe cases, even years. Never use a knife, razor or other sharp object on a callus as this can lead to infection. If you’re eager for a callus to go away faster, try soaking it in warm water to soften the skin and then gently use a pumice stone or large nail file on the area. Regularly moisturising the affected area and/or using a lotion which contains salicylic or glycolic acid can help soften the dry skin and remove any dead skin. You can also use Compeed® Callus Plasters to cushion and provide relief whilst also creating a moist, softening environment which can make it easier for you to safely remove the callus.

Are calluses supposed to be painful?

Calluses don’t usually cause much discomfort, but they can become painful if excess pressure is put on them – for example, if the callus is on your foot and you keep walking on it.  Calluses can become more painful the thicker they get. Sometimes, a callus becomes so thick that walking on it or wearing shoes becomes uncomfortable. If this happens, you should see a doctor. You should also see a doctor if you have diabetes, poor circulation, nerve problems or fragile skin as the callus may pose an additional risk to your health. Calluses are not usually painful unless they are being aggravated, so if it is painful that can be a sign of infection. If you are experiencing a lot of pain, or if the callus starts oozing, bleeding or if you notice anything else unusual about it, you should see a doctor. They can give you antibiotics if the callus is infected and refer you to a podiatrist if you need help managing the callus or removing it.

Should I see a doctor about my callus?

Calluses can usually be treated at home, but you should see a doctor if you have a corn or callus and you also have heart disease or poor circulation, the callus is bleeding or emitting any pus or discharge, the callus is very painful and is getting in the way of your usual activities, or it has not improved within 3 weeks of home treatment. If you see a GP about your callus, they can examine the foot to make sure it is a callus and not something more serious, they can provide antibiotics if it is infected, and they can refer you to a foot specialist if further treatment is required. A foot specialist (podiatrist) can help remove the callus, offer a medical patch to help the callus soften so it can be removed, or give you specially made insoles or foot pads to take pressure off the area.

When should I seek medical advice?

If the callus is very painful, or if you have diabetes, fragile skin, or circulatory problems, it is best to consult a doctor or a healthcare professional specialising in footcare such as a podiatrist.

A foot or posture specialist may help correct abnormal gait by checking your footwear or identify an underlying bone structure problem. In the latter case, you may be referred to undergo an X-Ray or possibly a surgical procedure.

A podiatrist may remove some of the hard skin using a scalpel. Do not attempt to do this at home.

If there is an infection or a risk of infection, you may be advised to visit your doctor, who may prescribe an antibiotic ointment. Red and swollen skin around the callus can indicate an infection.