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Those Annoying Calluses . . .


Many people get calluses at some point in their lives. However, they don’t always know the difference. Some call or come into the Clinic with sad faces, complaining bitterly about their corn/s. If it’s a complaint over the phone, from questioning you can more accurately determine the true problem.

Like most persons, I too get calluses. They don’t pain if not excessive; but if not treated, they can become quite unsightly. Some persons experience pains and discomfort with excessive callus build up . . . especially while running, walking or even by just standing on their feet.

Hyperkeratosis, the medical term for calluses, manifests itself as thickened, hardened, dead skin – usually yellowish or white in tone that forms as a result of pressure or friction placed on the feet. It’s the skin’s response to protect itself against the pressure and friction.

Calluses on the feet generally form on the ball of the foot, the heel, and the underside of the big toe. They may also have the appearance of extremely dry or flaky skin. As calluses thicken, additional pressure against the skin may cause pain. They may even form skin lesions underneath bony prominences on the sole of the foot, making these areas painful.

Causes

Many things contribute to callus development. The most common ones are:

  • Abnormalities in gait (the way one walks); including after a fracture when you now begin walking.

  • Poorly fitted / thin soled / high heeled shoes, or ill fitting socks

  • Mal-alignment of the metatarsal bones

  • Excessively long metatarsal bone

  • Bony prominence

  • Short Achilles tendon

  • Loss of fat pad on the underside of the foot

  • Flat feet (pes planus) or fallen arches; because the arch is too low and the foot is unstable.

  • Highly arched feet

  • Walking around barefooted

  • Obesity – a major contributor.

Treatment/Prevention

If you’re healthy, you only need treatment for calluses if they cause discomfort. For most people, simply eliminating the source of friction or pressure makes the calluses disappear A typical response, however, is “I was in discomfort so I used a razor blade and cut it down.” Bad idea!

The tips listed can help to treat the calluses. If you don’t have any, then you can use them for prevention.

1) Use shoes that allow your feet to breathe.

2) Don’t cut or file them down. This can lead to infections and serious foot conditions, especially if you have circulatory issues or diabetes. Diabetics should never attempt self-surgery.

3) Gently exfoliate the feet and use a cream or lotion that contains urea and vitamin E. This will allow a softer layer of skin to emerge. Cautionary note: don’t cream between the toes; and don’t use heavily abrasives files. Inappropriate exfoliation tools could actually cause the skin to become tougher.

4) If you have a serious callus or a series of calluses, then you may want to consult with a foot doctor (orthopedic surgeon), chiropodist, podiatrist or foot health practitioner before trying any home remedies. They will help to identify the cause of your calluses, as well as determine the best treatment plan for your case.

5) Wear shoes with extra depth and width, soft soles and lower heels.

6) If you are developing calluses even after buying good shoes, the problem may be that you are simply genetically programmed to develop calluses. In this case you will need to provide your feet with a little extra padding. Arch supports (orthotics) provide your feet with substantially more padding than regular shoes.

7) A good way to manage and prevent calluses is to add pedicures to your monthly routine. They help to soften your skin and would minimise skin build ups.

Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

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