You can get a callus on just about any surface of your body, but it most frequently occurs in places where there is a lot of friction to the skin. Your feet are most susceptible to calluses because you wear tight shoes around them for the better part of your day. In many cases, a callus is merely an annoyance, but there are cases when it can become a problem.
What Is a Callus?
A callus is a buildup of toughened skin that happens when an area of the foot continually comes in contact into a rough surface. The friction causes layers of dead skin to form until a noticeable bump develops—it’s a natural reaction of the body to protect itself from injury, but unfortunately can lead to other problems. Podiatrists often find calluses on the bottom of the feet or on the toes.
Why Do Calluses Form?
Foot calluses almost always form because of pressure from the shoes that you wear as well as walking very often. Athletes usually develop calluses because of their high levels of activity—they frequently run, jump and make sudden motions while wearing tennis shoes that aren’t always ideal for their needs. Women often develop calluses on their toes and the sides of their feet from wearing pumps to work that constantly rub up against their skin. Some are soft and caused by too much sweat and moisture in the shoes (another issue that affects athletes).
When a Callus Becomes Problematic...
A callus is usually considered a minor cosmetic annoyance to the feet, but there are cases when it can become problematic. Without proper treatment, they can become inflamed, ulcerated or infected over time. Calluses that become ulcers can put the foot or toes at serious risk if it isn’t cleaned and disinfected properly. Allowing calluses to grow to a certain size can also make it impossible to wear or walk in everyday shoes.
When foot or toe calluses become a problem, treatments should be explored with a podiatrist. Common solutions include removing the callus with a scalpel and administering what is called a salicyclic acid patch to heal the skin. Your podiatrist may also prescribe orthotic shoes or inserts to stop the progression of calluses and prevent them from coming back. If you have callused toes or feet, call your doctor to discuss a custom treatment plan.