Calluses are thickened, tough skin layers that form as protection against excessive pressure and friction. Calluses are common on the bottom of your foot because your foot frequently rubs against other surfaces. Although most calluses disappear without any treatment, you might need to consult your doctor if a callus causes you discomfort.
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A common cause of calluses on the bottom of the foot is shoes that fit poorly. Tight shoes and high heels compress different parts of the foot, and loose shoes can cause your foot to rub repeatedly against the sole. Not wearing socks also can lead to calluses. Another common cause is an abnormality in your gait that causes you to carry weight in certain areas of your foot more than you carry it in others, according to the website ePodiatry. Having bunions on your feet also can cause calluses as the bunions rub against your shoes.
You might have a callus on the bottom of your foot if you see any thick or rough areas of skin, if you have a hardened or raised bump or if you feel any tenderness or pain beneath your skin, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Callused skin also can be dry, flaky or waxy. Calluses on the bottom of the foot tend to occur mostly on the ball of your foot – the area right behind your big toe – but they can also show up at your heel or around your big toe or little toe.
Most calluses heal on their own, but you might be able to hasten the healing process. Soak the callus in warm and soapy water for at least 10 minutes, then use a pumice stone to rub off the dead skin. You can buy a specialized foot pad at your local drugstore or supermarket to keep the pressure off your callus while it heals.
Talk to your doctor if your callus becomes inflamed or painful. Your callus might have an infection or ulcer that requires antibiotics, or your doctor might need to trim the unhealthy skin with a scalpel, according to the website MedlinePlus. He might recommend that you treat a problematic callus with a patch that contains 40 percent salicylic acid. He could recommend surgery if you have a misaligned bone that repeatedly causes painful calluses, but this treatment is rarely necessary.
Some causes of calluses, such as gait abnormalities, can be complicated to reverse. However, you can do things to avoid many risk factors for calluses. Wear socks, and avoid wearing shoes that compress your feet or cause uncomfortable rubbing and pinching. If your toes can’t wiggle in your shoes, chances are your shoes are too tight. If necessary, wear soft pads or bandages in areas of your foot that cause rubbing or pinching.