Calluses under the feet are common sources of pain and frustration There is often a misconception about these can be treated, as many people assume they can simply be cut out. This article will discuss what actually can be done to provide treatment, and dispel some of the myths surrounding their treatment.
Calluses on the bottom of the foot are from a natural process that is designed to protect the foot skin from excessive pressure. This excessive pressure can come from several sources. Externally, pressure can come from simply walking or standing on the ground, whether one is in shoes or not. The shoe itself can even be a source of external pressure, although this is usually seen resulting in corns on the top of the toes (which is the same type of condition as a callus). Internally, pressure can come from the bones that lie beneath the skin. If the bones are abnormally prominent due to a foot structure abnormality (like a bunion or flat feet), or if the skin and padding below the bone is abnormally thin, then pressure will increase on the overlying skin. The skin is usually irritated by both internal and external sources of pressure at the same time, where external pressure from walking combined with internal pressure from prominent bones or thin skin create a reaction in the skin tissue. This reaction causes the skin to form a thickening of the outer layer of keratin-based cells, which squish together to form multiple layers.
Over time, a callus (also called a hyperkeratosis) develops as the skin becomes excessively thick at the spot of pressure. This callus, if thick enough, can be painful as the original normal skin layer on the bottom of the callus is harmed by the pressure of the layer that covers it. What once was a simple protective measure by the skin can turn into a source of pain and damage for the skin if growth progresses far enough. Sometimes, the callus grows inward towards the base layer of the skin, leading to the formation of a thick, hard core that tunnels inward (but does not break the skin). This is also called an intractable plantar keratosis, and is often mistaken for a wart. Finally, sweat and other skin glands can fill with keratin material, forming a small pinpoint callus called a porokeratosis. This type of callus does not need to have a prominent bone underneath it for it to form, and is usually not painful.
Callus treatment is often misunderstood, and in reality can be somewhat complicated. The most common form of treatment is simple shaving of the callus by oneself, a pedicurist, or…