A callus is a thickened area of skin on the foot caused by pressure and repeated rubbing, such as from a shoe or sock. The rubbing causes the skin to produce a layer of protective skin (a callus). Calluses vary in size, and can become painful.
There are a number of treatments for painful calluses. People who have calluses are cautioned against performing “bathroom surgery,” as this can lead to cuts and infection. A foot and ankle surgeon can evaluate the cause of the calluses and recommend the treatment most appropriate for your condition. However, if the underlying cause of the callus is not treated or removed, the callus may return.
What causes calluses to form? Hyperkeratosis simply means thickening of the skin. This thickening occurs as a natural defense mechanism that strengthens the skin in areas of friction or excessive pressure. Abnormal anatomy of the feet, such as hammertoe or other toe deformities, can lead to corn or callus formation as can bony prominences in the feet. Footwear that is too short or too tight or that exerts friction at specific points can also cause skin thickening that leads to corns and calluses. Abnormalities in gait or movement that result in increased pressure to specific areas can also be the cause.
If you have diabetes or another condition that causes poor blood flow to your feet, you’re at greater risk of complications from corns and calluses. Seek your doctor’s advice on proper care for corns and calluses if you have such a condition.