Foot Calluses: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Cynthia Bailey, MD|June 29, 2015

foot calluses Calluses just aren't attractive. There's no way around it. In the winter months when your feet are hidden away in boots, they're easy to ignore. Once summer rolls around, though, those thick and crusty calluses desperately need to be taken care of before you show them off to the world in cute, summery sandals. Here are a few facts on foot calluses and what you can do to get your feet up to par to beautifully sport your favorite sandals. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association:

  • Most Americans log an amazing 75,000 miles on their feet by the time they reach age 50.
  • If the thickening of skin occurs on the top of your foot, it's called a corn.
  • If corns or calluses are causing pain and discomfort or inhibiting your daily life in any way, see a podiatrist.
  • Remember to apply sunscreen all over your feet, especially the tops and fronts of ankles, and don't forget to reapply after you've been in the water.

The Good Foot calluses are dead skin cells that have built up to protect your tender skin from repeated pounding of your weight against the ground or rubbing against your shoes. The good news is calluses can actually be a good thing, especially if you're a runner. Calluses can tell you where you're putting your weight. They can be an indication of where you need to work on your stride, or if you're landing too hard in one place. If you walk extensively, they can help you walk with more comfort over long stretches of time and pavement. The Bad Calluses can get too thick, especially in the winter when the weather and the use of heaters can dry things out. When your calluses get dried, they can crack and cause infections. Using a pumice stone on your feet in the shower can be a very useful thing. It is important to try to shave the calluses off, especially if you have diabetes. If this happens, it's time to see a podiatrist or dermatologist rather than take matters into your own hands. The Ugly Calluses tend to be unsightly. If left unattended, the thick white skin can get gnarly and cracked, even painful if ignored. Fortunately, it's a relatively simple process to get your foot calluses under control. There are two methods of removal: chemical and physical. Chemical removal involves the use of a strong exfoliating product that will dissolve the rough skin. Physical removal is done with a pumice or foot file and a little bit of elbow grease.

Dr. Bailey’s 3 Steps for Soft and Smooth Feet

  1. Soak your feet in warm water or a shower for 10-15 minutes.
  2. While your feet are wet, physically exfoliate your feet with a foot file or pumice stone. Be careful to not hurt your feet during this step.
  3. Apply Glytone Heel and Elbow Cream to your damp feet after toweling your feet off to dry. Be more liberal with the cream where the skin is thicker, even the toes and nail beds, as needed. Wear a clean pair of socks over your treated feet for at least 8 hours.

To make things simpler, Dr. Bailey put together a kit, Smooth and Soft Feet - Rough Skin Remover, so you can get everything in one place. You don't have to hide your feet this summer. Show them off with pride minus the thick calluses - your classy new sandals deserve it!  

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