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How do I Remove Foot Calluses?

By Laura Evans
Updated May 21, 2024
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Foot calluses, which are caused by friction or pressure on the bottom or sides of the feet, are thick, tough layers of skin. Calluses, which can also develop on the hands, act to protect the body from further harm. You can remove calluses at home with a foot shaver or a callus file. In some cases, such as when the calluses are unusually painful or infected, it's best to have a professional deal with calluses on the feet.

When people go barefoot, their feet come in contact various surfaces that are irritating, such as hot concrete or rocky ground. In addition, when people wear ill-fitting shoes or high heels, the shoes can rub against the sides of the feet and toes. Feet will then develop calluses as a reaction to the heat and pressure involved in walking.

Calluses look and feel different than normal skin. In addition to being thick and rough, they can look dry or flaky. People may also feel a dull pain when pressing calluses.

Most calluses on the feet are not harmful. In many cases, they will disappear over time if the causes of the calluses are eliminated. For example, if a person who has foot calluses because of poorly fitted shoes starts wearing ones that fit better, the calluses will start to disappear.

Most people can treat their calluses at home, starting by soaking the feet in warm, soapy water. After soaking, you can use a foot shaver on the foot, scrub the feet with a pumice stone, or rub them with a wash cloth to help reduce the calluses. Regardless of what you use, applying moisturizers will help the calluses to be soft and pliable. You can also purchase over-the-counter pads to use when wearing shoes to reduce your calluses.

When you try to treat calluses yourself and continue to feel unacceptable pain or develop an infection, make an appointment to see a medical professional. He or she may cut back the foot calluses with a scalpel or prescribe an antibiotic ointment. Many healthcare professionals suggest using patches that include 40% salicylic acid, or they may suggest patients wear shoe inserts to reduce pressure and friction on the foot. Occasionally, people with calluses must undergo surgery.

Calluses on the feet can be more serious for diabetics because of poor circulation to the feet. Not only can calluses develop more quickly for diabetics than those who do not have diabetes, they can ulcerate, becoming open sores. In some cases, surgery is required to alleviate the problem.

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Discussion Comments

By bear78 — On Nov 03, 2012

@ankara-- Have you tried over-the-counter creams for foot corns and calluses?

My sister said she tried one of these recently and was impressed with it. Apparently it's a cream with some kind of exfoliant ingredient that you apply on the callus overnight. It's supposed to soften the dead skin and remove it.

It might be worth a try if nothing else is working. Otherwise, you should probably see a doctor for treatment.

By bluedolphin — On Nov 02, 2012

I have a really bad, large callus on my right heel. Pumice stone doesn't work and I don't want to shave it.

What else can I do?

By fBoyle — On Nov 01, 2012

I got foot calluses for the first time in my life last summer. I got them because I wore extremely flat and poor quality sandals every day for a couple of weeks. I didn't even realize when or how they formed, but one day I just couldn't walk from the pain. I never had so much pain in my life.

For treatment, all I did was change my shoes. I wore comfortable, orthopedic sports shoes with comfortable socks. I also did foot soaks daily with Epsom salt and I applied a topical analgesic ointment on the calluses to relieve the pain. They went away on their own in about two weeks.

I do not wear very flat sandals ever since and I have not had any new calluses.

By Charlie89 — On Aug 17, 2010

The best thing I've ever used for foot calluses is a good old pumice stone.

Just scrub that guy back and forth, and pretty soon, you'll be callus free.

Don't give up too easily either -- those foot calluses can be real stubborn, so you may have to go back and try it again over the course of a few days.

But if you stick with it, I would think there's no callused foot a pumice stone can't tackle.

By rallenwriter — On Aug 17, 2010

What happens if you get rid of a callus on your foot and then the underneath is all red and painful?

I had that happen once, but the callus just sort of peeled itself off -- I didn't start to pull it off or anything. Once it was off, it was like raw skin underneath -- I had to wear a bandage on it for a few weeks until it healed enough for me to walk on.

Calluses usually don't go that far down into the skin, do they?

By yournamehere — On Aug 17, 2010

Intersting -- I never knew that you could actually have to have surgery as a foot callus treatment. I always keep my foot callus file with me, even when I travel, because I hate the feeling of having calluses on my feet. I can't imagine what it would feel like to have one so bad that I had to have surgery!

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