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What are calluses and how are they treated?


Calluses are areas of hardened, thick skin. They are formed to offer skin protection, as well as other structures under it, from friction, injury, and pressure. They generally have a yellowish or grayish appearance and are less sensitive to touch when compared to the surrounding skin. They are also characterized by a bumpy feel. Having a thickened skin on the feet and hands of an active person is quite normal and nothing to worry about. However, they can also be problematic if they grow considerably larger to the extent that they cause pain. While they generally form on the feet and hands, calluses can also form on any other part of the skin, such as the elbows and knees provided there is pressure.


What causes calluses?

Calluses are caused by repeated friction or pressure being exerted on a particular area of the skin over a considerable time period. As a result of this pressure, the skin dies and a protective, hard surface is formed in its place. Contrary to what most people tend to think, viruses are not responsible for causing this condition and they are not contagious. Handling an object repeatedly which puts pressure on your hands like tools or sporting equipment usually causes calluses to form on the hands.

Those that form on the feet usually result from too much pressure being exerted by footwear.

For instance, wearing tight shoes tends to squeeze the foot and this ultimately causes thickening of the skin surface. High heeled shoes lead to a squeezing of the front parts of the shoes while loose shoes make your feet slide and continuous rubbing against the shoe could result in calluses. Thin soled shoes create much more pressure on the ball of the foot when walking compared to thicker soled shoes. In addition, the tendency to wear shoes and sandals without socks increases friction thus leading to a thickening of the skin surface, which is also the case with walking barefoot.

Symptoms and diagnosis of calluses

It is easy to tell if you have a callus simply by looking at your feet or hands. Generally speaking, a callus is thick, hard, and dry and usually has a yellowish or grayish appearance. Another symptom of calluses is that they are less sensitive to touch compared to surrounding skin areas and are bumpy. One benefit to remember is that a callus can reduce pain. They can, however, cause pain as you walk or when you wear shoes. A large callus might make it hard for the shoe to fit your feet and pain can result when pressure is exerted on it through squeezing. Physical examinations are the most common way of diagnosing calluses on the feet and hands. During the examination, your doctor will ask you some questions regarding your hobbies or the work you do as well as the kind of shoes that you wear. If the doctor suspects that your bone has a problem, he or she will recommend that an x-ray is performed so that the diagnosis can be as accurate as possible.

How are calluses treated?

There are different types of treatments as far as calluses are concerned. For people with peripheral neuropathy, peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, or any other kind of condition that can cause numbness or circulatory problems, it is always advisable that you consult your doctor first before attempting any treatment. Actually, a callus won’t require any treatment as such unless it is painful. Where the callus causes some pain, the main goal of the treatment is to remove the friction or pressure that causes the callus and it will heal naturally on its own. To achieve this, you will need to wear proper fitting footwear and if possible, ensure that your shoes have protective padding, such as doughnut-shaped pads for cushioning the calluses from the shoes. Your doctor or physical therapist will also recommend some other padding types such as toe crest pads, toe caps, toe sleeves, and toe separators.

There are also some products like salicylic acid that can be used to soften a callus and remove the dead skin. A callus can also be trimmed using a sharp knife or razor but this should be done by a professional doctor. Never attempt to cut a callus on your own particularly if you are diabetic. Where the bone structure is affected, the best treatment option is surgery and can be very effective in removing calluses. To ensure that the callus doesn’t recur, it is essential that you avoid things that exert more pressure on your feet and hands and take good care of yourself.

For more information about Corns and calluses

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