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Like corns, a callus happens when there’s a buildup of hard, dead skin over a broad area of pressure or a place where your foot is bony. Calluses are thickened hardened layers of skin that usually develop on the bottom of your foot, under the heel or the ball of foot. Some people can develop a toe callus, usually on the outer side of the big toe. Calluses can vary in size and shape, are usually much larger than corns, and can be painful depending upon where they occur.

Calluses may be painful or merely unsightly, but you know you have one when you notice a large area of thickened skin, especially on the heel, ball of foot, or sides of the foot.


Your outer layer of skin has special skin cells called keratinocytes, which produce calluses. It’s your body’s way of helping to lessen friction or pressure – often on the heel, ball of foot, and the sides of your feet. The friction or pressure could be from your shoes, sports, daily activity or merely from a unique characteristic in the way you walk. Calluses can form anywhere that pressure and friction are increased on your skin, but foot calluses usually form from the rubbing of a shoe or sock.


Unfortunately, it can be more of a challenge to remove a callus than it was to get it in the first place. You may not be able to identify the exact cause because there may be more than one. Sometimes not wearing the shoes you think causes calluses just isn’t enough. There are, however, some things you can try:

• Wear properly-fitting shoes and rotate your shoe type on a daily basis
• Take pressure off your callus and it may go away, for example with the right socks and insole padding within your shoes
• Moisturize your feet daily to help prevent the calluses from forming
• Calluses tend to build up over time so use a face cloth or other mild skin cleaner to help reduce callus build up and facilitate callus removal.
• Soaking feet in warm soapy water helps soften the callus, and you can use a pumice stone or callus file to remove thickened skin.

If you are looking for a callus treatment or have foot callus pain, try one of Dr. Scholl’s® products for managing calluses on your feet: callus removers and callus cushions


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Frequently Asked Questions

What does a foot callus look like?
Calluses typically form on the bottom of the foot or the back of the heel and appear as thick skin that is often yellow or gray in color. The skin may be rough and dry with flaking. Calluses often cover a large area of the foot and are especially common on the ball and heel of the foot. Calluses are often confused with corns which are smaller with a hard center and tend to appear on the sides and the tops of toes.
How to remove foot callus
Because calluses consist of multiple layers of thick, hardened skin that builds up over time, removing them can be difficult, requiring patience and continual efforts. The goal should be to lessen the callus little by little rather than trying to completely eliminate it at once. Follow these steps at least once a week to remove foot calluses at home:

1) Soak the feet in warm water in order to soften the skin and make it easier to remove calluses from the bottom of the foot.
2) Use a tool such as a pumice stone or foot file to remove layers of thickened skin. Electric callus removers can also be used to eliminate calluses. These tools diminish dead skin using an abrasive spinning head.
3) Use a moisturizing foot cream or lotion with alpha hydroxy acids or salicylic acid.
4) Apply an approved Over the Counter treatment product with salicylic acid directly to the callus to aid in removal. You can also use callus pads that contain salicylic acid in order to treat and protect the callus at the same time.

Repeating these steps regularly can help diminish the callus little by little. Try to avoid removing too much of the callus at once as this can cause irritation.

If you’re still having trouble with calluses despite home efforts, see your doctor for an evaluation. A doctor can trim down calluses using a special instrument. In rare cases, surgery may be recommended. Never attempt to cut or trim calluses on your own using sharp instruments such as razors or nail clippers as this can lead to injury.
How to get rid of callus on foot
If you’re trying to get rid of a callus on the foot, it’s best to focus on reducing it little by little while also minimizing the issue that caused the callus in the first place. Regular maintenance and prevention steps are the most effective way to get rid of calluses on the foot.

Calluses form on the foot primarily due to friction and pressure. Follow these steps to alleviate friction and get rid of calluses on the bottom of the foot:

• Always wear properly fitted shoes to reduce the friction that can lead to calluses. Avoid wearing ill-fitted or tight shoes that rub against the skin.
• Wear moisture-wicking socks to further reduce rubbing.
• Try insoles and heel liners to improve the fit of shoes.
• Use callus cushions to cut down on pressure and friction.

Although it’s not possible to get rid of an entire callus all at once safely using home methods, calluses can be reduced over time with regular foot care. To treat calluses on the foot, follow these steps at least once a week:

• Soften calluses by soaking your feet in warm, soapy water for several minutes.
• Gently exfoliate the top layers of calluses using a foot file, emery board, pumice stone or electric callus remover.
• Apply a callus treatment product containing salicylic acid. The acid exfoliates top layers of dead skin cells to lessen calluses. You can even find callus cushions that are pre-treated for convenience.

See your doctor if you have persistent calluses that don’t respond to home treatment methods or if your calluses are causing pain and making it difficult to walk. Your doctor can reduce your calluses by trimming them. In rare cases, surgery may be recommended. Never try to cut or trim calluses at home because you could injure yourself.
How to soften a foot callus
Soaking the feet in warm water for several minutes is the simplest way to soften a foot callus so that it’s easier to reduce with a pumice stone, foot file or callus remover. You can also soften a callus with the help of a thick, moisturizing foot cream or a callus treatment product containing salicylic acid.
How to remove a callus from a diabetic foot
If you have diabetes, it’s especially important to take good care of your feet in order to avoid potentially serious complications. It is very important that you discuss removal of calluses from diabetic skin with your doctor before taking any action.

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