Calluses are areas of thick, hard skin on the feet. They are usually caused by friction. For example, wearing shoes that are too small can cause this problem. There are other potential causes, but once you’ve developed calluses, they can become uncomfortable and unsightly. Thankfully, there are several preventative measures you can take to avoid them.
Typically, calluses are found on the bottom or sides of your feet. Sometimes they can be found on the toes. However, if you have hard areas on your toes or the top of your feet, they may be corns. Corns and calluses have many similarities, but they need to be dealt with differently.
Like many foot conditions, it may not always be possible to avoid calluses. People with flat or extremely arched feet may be more prone to them. Additionally, people carrying around extra weight are more susceptible to experiencing this thickened skin on the bottom of the feet.
However, you can lower your chances of developing calluses. They can take quite awhile to build up. Some people have a buildup of thick, hard skin that has been developing for years. Not only is it possible to remove calluses on the feet, but there are things you can do to prevent them from becoming severe.
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Is Preventing Calluses Possible?
You can significantly lower your chances of getting calluses (also known as a callosity). In most cases, all it takes are a few simple changes.
We will look more closely at several different prevention methods:
Wear Comfortable Shoes
No matter what type of shoes you wear, they should be a good fit. Dress shoes are often a big culprit because they tend to be on the tighter side. You shouldn’t experience any rubbing, especially on the pressure points when you’re wearing shoes.
Giving your toes enough room to move and your feet enough room to ‘breathe’ will cut down on friction. Not only will this help to prevent calluses, but it will be more comfortable. You may also lower your risk for things like toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, and bad-smelling feet.
Your shoes should also have a cushioning on the sole. A shoe that is too ‘flat’ can rub against the bottom of your feet and cause too much friction. If your shoes don’t have enough support, consider a comfortable insole to reduce rubbing.
Avoid High Heels
Heels are a staple in the world of women’s fashion. Unfortunately, high heels can cause foot problems. Not only can they be painful and hard to walk in after several hours, but they can quickly cause a build-up of hard, thick skin.
Calluses typically form on the ball of the foot for people who wear high heels frequently. When you wear heels, the balls of your feet are forced downward. If the shoes have a pointed toe, it can make things even more cramped. Because most women don’t wear socks with high-heeled shoes, your skin is directly rubbing against the inside of the shoe.
It’s best to avoid wearing high heels as much as possible. If you do wear them for work or a night out, choose heels with a wide toe box.
You can also find insoles specifically made for high heels. These can help to provide somewhat of a cushion and reduce friction. Try to use pads and cushions on the pressure points of your feet.
Replace Shoes Regularly
Even if your shoes fit properly, they could contribute to calluses over time. Even if your shoes aren’t causing you pain, they tend to break down quickly. If you have a favorite pair you wear daily, they could be causing your skin to become hard and thick.
When shoes start to break down, they lose the support your feet need. Soles that are worn out don’t provide the right amount of shock absorption through the sole. If you continue to walk on them each day, they can start to chafe against your feet. That kind of rubbing is exactly what will cause calluses.
While this is most common with athletic shoes that are used each day, it can happen with almost any pair. It’s not uncommon to have a favorite pair of shoes. But, if you wear them every day, anticipate that they should be replaced in 6 months to a year. That timeframe may be even less for athletic shoes, depending on how active you are.
Wear the Right Socks
Believe it or not, there can be a connection between calluses and your socks. The wrong socks can also cause blisters and excessive sweating on your feet. Even if you’re wearing the right shoes, your socks could be made of materials that rub against your feet with every step.
There are socks designed to reduce friction. While they are typically made for runners, anyone can wear them who experiences calluses on their feet. You don’t have to buy special, expensive running socks to reduce friction. It’s all about the type of material the socks are made from.
Try to choose socks that are made from PTFE or nylon. If the materials lead to sweatiness, put some talcum powder on them first. Unlike cotton or wool, these materials will easily glide within your shoes, instead of causing a lot of rubbing.
Reduce Friction with Antiperspirant
One DIY ‘hack’ to try is using antiperspirant or petroleum jelly. Apply a thin layer of either of these substances on your feet’s trouble spots. You’ll have a good idea of where your feet are rubbing against your shoes the most.
Using either a deodorant or petroleum jelly can reduce that friction and allow your feet to glide freely within the shoe. Be sure not to use too much, or it could get messy.
If you also suffer from corns, you can try this hack on your toes and the top of your feet too. Wherever there is extra friction, you’re likely to find that this little ‘tip’ can be helpful.
Smooth Down Rough Skin
Calluses tend to build up over time. One of the best ways to prevent calluses from occurring is to take care of your feet. By developing a regular foot care routine, you can have a better chance of smoothing down rough skin before calluses form.
Even if you wear ill-fitted shoes or have other issues that may cause a toughening of the skin, you can balance it out with the right routine.
General foot hygiene is a great place to start. You can go even further to soften your skin by doing foot soaks with tea tree oil.
Soak your feet at a few times per week in an electric foot spa. Many foot baths are heated and encourage the use of Epsom salts and essential oils for health and exfoliation.
You can also use pumice stones or callus shaving devices to prevent calluses from forming. Many electric foot files will get rid of thick skin and calluses right away. Then, you can use them weekly for maintenance to keep your feet soft and healthy.
How to Avoid Foot Calluses
It may not always be possible to prevent calluses. But, as you can see, understanding the causes of calluses means that there are several simple changes you can make that will help.
Most of the time, a few switches in habits or the type of shoes you wear can make a significant difference. Many of the suggestions listed here don’t cost anything. They simply require some adaptations to your current habits.
It’s easy to ignore your feet until they start to become embarrassing or cause discomfort. When you have calluses, they may not seem like a big deal at first.
Unfortunately, if you let them go for too long, they can cause bigger problems. Plus, they can quickly become the reason you don’t like to wear sandals or show off your bare feet.
There are ways to avoid and treat calluses at home. Almost anyone can have soft, smooth skin on their feet. It just takes a bit of extra care and the right kind of footwear to get the results that you need.