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How do I Treat a Skin Callus?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A skin callus is a patch of hard, rough, flaky skin that develops over time due to friction. Calluses usually appear on the hands and the heels of the feet, but a rough spot can also emerge on the knee, elbow, or any area of skin that is subjected to constant rubbing. In most cases, the only treatment needed is avoiding the original cause of friction or pressure. Wearing gloves or comfortable shoes during activity can take pressure off of the callus, giving it time to heal itself. In addition, you can soften the skin and speed up healing time by keeping the callus moisturized with non-medicated lotions and hand creams.

The best treatment for a small skin callus is preventing the underlying cause of friction until the skin has time to slough off and replenish itself. If a foot callus is caused by a loose-fitting shoe or a high heel, making a simple change in footwear is usually enough to avoid aggravating the area. Calluses on the hands can be protected by wearing gloves while working. Most pharmacies and supermarkets carry shoe inserts, tapes, and pads that can provide further protection and cushioning.

You can promote faster healing by keeping the area of skin well moisturized. Soaking the hand or foot in warm water several times a day can help to soften the skin, and applying lotion regularly traps moisture inside. Rubbing a softened callus with a pumice stone can remove layers of rough skin, but be careful not to irritate the surrounding skin by using the stone too vigorously.

Visit a medical professional if any callus becomes painful or does not respond to home treatments. A dermatologist or podiatrist may be able to trim away excess dead skin with a special device and apply a high-strength salicylic acid patch to treat and protect the callus. If you have a large callus on your heel, you may be fitted with a custom shoe insert to provide extra cushioning.

Surgery is rarely recommended for a skin callus, but an especially persistent spot that is at risk of getting infected may need to be removed. A medical professional can usually perform the simple surgery in his or her office in a matter of minutes. A scalpel is used to dig the callus out of the skin, and the wound is treated with antibiotics and a protective bandage. Following the procedure, the healthcare provider can provide an antibiotic solution to apply at home and explain how to avoid developing calluses in the future.

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Discussion Comments
By EarlyForest — On Oct 02, 2010

Is it at all possible to use corn removers to remove calluses? I tend to get corns on my feet, and recently I've gotten some calluses too, so I didn't know if I could use the same tool on both.

Thanks for the info...I know it's kind of personal!

By TunaLine — On Oct 02, 2010

Many pharmacies and grocery stores also offer foot callus treatment lotions that are a little bit acidic, and can help to minimize calluses. Of course, this may not be the best thing for those with dry cracking skin, since the acid in the treatment can actually irritate dry skin, leading to an itchy, painful foot.

However, when used appropriately, those lotions can really do a lot to minimize your calluses, at least if they're not too big.

By rallenwriter — On Oct 02, 2010

I was wondering, I read on the instructions to a foot callus remover that it was best to use it after taking a shower, when the skin was soft from the water.

However, I had also read the opposite, that you should use a callus remover when the callus was dry, because once it got wet it would be harder to remove.

Which one is true?

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