A callus is a hardened area of tough, dead skin that forms as a protective response against friction and chafing. Calluses form where an area of the foot is repeatedly rubbed or subjected to pressure. Because they form as a natural protective response, they'll continue to form unless medical care is sought to correct the underlying issue.
Calluses often form as a result of wearing shoes that don't fit well. Shoes that are too tight or too loose can cause rubbing and friction along the toes or the sides or bottom of the feet when walking or running. Ill-fitting shoes can also cause pressure points that can also cause calluses. Calluses are also more likely to occur in people who have certain gait patterns or specific foot shapes or conditions that result in areas of uneven pressure. When a bone is slightly lower than normal, it can place internal pressure on the soft tissues of the foot, especially the ball area beneath the toes, causing a callus to form. Being overweight or obese also increases the likelihood of developing a callus.
Sometimes, a callus can be resolved with professional trimming combined with a change in footwear to reduce pressure and friction. Stubborn, recurring calluses can benefit from custom orthotics designed to relieve pressure points and provide adequate support for the foot.
Despite the plethora of products on the market, it's not a good idea to treat calluses at home. Tools and chemical products used to remove or soften callused skin can easily damage neighboring healthy skin or cause abrasions that can allow harmful germs to enter, resulting in serious infections. Over-the-counter orthotics are not designed for individual patients and can wind up making underlying problems much worse. For the best results and optimal, long-term results, seeing a podiatrist at the first sign of a callus is the best way to relieve painful symptoms and prevent calluses from recurring.
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