Callus 3 min read

Top 5 Causes of Calluses and How to Avoid Them

Top 5 Causes of Calluses and How to Avoid Them Top 5 Causes of Calluses and How to Avoid Them Top 5 Causes of Calluses and How to Avoid Them

Calluses on the hands and feet can be a source of irritation and pain. Yet they are often misunderstood, with people unclear about what causes them and what they can do to avoid calluses or treat them once they happen. With this in mind, we have created this guide to the top 5 causes of calluses and what you can do to prevent yourself from falling into the traps.

Top 5 causes of calluses

Calluses can be caused by all sorts of different activities, usually those that are repetitive. For example, some types of calluses are related to specific activities, such as those that form on violin players’ chins. However, there are five very common causes that doctors and podiatrists usually encounter.

1. Ill-fitting shoes
2. Repetitive motions
3. Standing for long periods of time
4. Medical conditions
5. Dry skin

Ill-fitting shoes

Shoes that are either too big or too small can be a great source of irritation for your feet. They can rub on the toes and knuckles of the feet, or even the heels, causing calluses to develop. These can be further aggravated every time you wear the shoes, with no time to heal fully.

Repetitive motions

As mentioned, repetitive motions are often the source of calluses. This is particularly true for people who play sports or musical instruments and those whose jobs involve repetitive actions. Over time, the skin hardens, and a callus develops. In some cases, this can benefit the individual, such as when playing the guitar. But even experienced sports people or musicians can also suffer pain and discomfort if overexposed to this repetition

Standing for long periods of time

The feet are particularly susceptible to calluses because they feature so many lumpy and bumpy parts and also because we spend so much time in shoes. If you work in a job that involves spending a lot of time on your feet, it is not uncommon for calluses to develop around the toes and knuckle joints.

Certain medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can cause the development of calluses. One of these is pachyonychia congenita, which affects the skin and nails. Fortunately, this is quite a rare condition. However, some people are more genetically predisposed to developing corns and calluses than others, without it being diagnosable.

Dry skin

Calluses develop when skin cells are compacted and less able to shed naturally. This is more likely to happen when skin cells are dry, with a lower moisture content. So, if your skin is dry or dehydrated, you are more likely to develop calluses.

What are calluses, and why do they form?

Calluses are thick and hard layers of skin that develop when the skin’s outer surface tries to protect itself against excess friction or pressure. They tend to form on the hands and feet, particularly the fingers and toes, where the bones are most prominent. That’s because these protuberances are subject to most friction and rubbing.

The calluses look like lumps of dry skin, usually round in appearance with a white or even yellow/grey colour. Although this is not always the case, they can be painful; they also look unsightly and cause embarrassment. It is usually possible to remove calluses with some minor treatment. However, as always, prevention is better than cure. Keep reading to learn how to avoid calluses and what to do when one erupts.

Tips on how to avoid calluses

Now you know about some of the most common forms of calluses, you’re probably wondering if there is anything you can do to avoid them. The good news is that you can take several easy steps to give yourself the best chance of preventing calluses from breaking out on your skin.

Wearing well-fitting shoes
As we saw above, shoes that are either too big or too small can cause friction and lead to calluses developing. Establish what size feet you have and buy good quality shoes that fit your feet. This may involve getting shoes with wider toes to avoid friction.

Taking regular breaks when standing or engaging in repetitive motions
You may passionately love playing your instrument or favourite sport, but you must give your skin time to recover. Take regular breaks and try not to overdo it. If you notice a callus developing, cover it using plasters or other forms of callus protection.

Moisturising regularly
Calluses are more likely to develop when the skin is dry, as cells are harder to break down and shed, building up into calluses. That’s why it is so important to moisturise regularly. It does not have to be a specific hand or foot cream, but using those may be more effective. As well as using creams and ointments, soaking your hands or feet in warm water for ten minutes will also help to rehydrate cells and break down calluses.

When to see a doctor

Of course, sometimes, avoidance simply does not work, and calluses become painful and unpleasant. If a callus has become swollen or inflamed, it might be time to see a doctor. If the centre of the callus has ruptured and is an open wound, there may be an infection risk, or it can even develop into an ulcer. A doctor can recommend any further treatment you require or refer you to a specialist.

There are various causes of calluses, usually the result of repetitive actions or overuse, with ill-fitting shoes not helping. However, this means that by making a few changes to your footwear and lifestyle, you can significantly prevent calluses. But, if a callus does develop, be sure to use one of Compeed’s callus platers, which uses hydrocolloid active gel technology to quickly reduce pain and remove the callus.