How to Get Rid of Calluses on Feet

Calluses are thick, hard areas of dead skin that typically appear on the feet and hands. Calluses are caused by repeated friction and/or pressure on the area affected.

There are natural remedies to treat foot calluses. To get them removed, you can visit a podiatrist, a medical specialist that diagnoses and treats conditions of the feet and lower legs.

This article discusses calluses, why you get them, treatment options, and when it might be time to visit your healthcare provider.

podiatrist removing calluses
Getty Images.

What Are Calluses?

A callus is a thick, hardened area of dead skin that occurs on the hands or feet. The skin can either present as rough and hard or flaky and patchy.

Calluses are the result of hyperkeratinization (thickening of the skin's top layer), which also causes corns (smaller than calluses and with a hard center around inflamed skin). Both calluses, as well as corns, develop to protect the skin beneath them.

Calluses, unlike corns, are not well-defined and cover larger areas. Calluses can be painful, especially on the bottom of the foot.

Causes of Foot Calluses

Calluses are the result of prolonged friction, rubbing, irritation, or pressure on the area of skin affected.

There are a number of reasons the skin on the foot may form calluses. Some of these include:

  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes
  • Going barefoot
  • Walking without socks
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Having medical conditions such as bunions (bony bumps at the base of the big toe), bone spurs (bony projections along the edges of bones), or hammertoes (an abnormal bend or buckling at the middle joint of a toe)

How to Get Rid of Foot Calluses

There are a number of ways to get rid of foot calluses. These include:

  • Soak your feet in warm, soapy water for five to 10 minutes: This will help soften the skin and can help relieve any potential pain or discomfort you may be experiencing. You can also soak your feet in an Epsom salt bath.
  • Try salicylic acid: Choose an over-the-counter 17% salicylic acid product. Apply to the callus for three to seven days in a row. You should not use this product if you have underlying medical issues.
  • Apply moisturizing cream or lotion: Find a product with or without salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea. These ingredients are helpful in softening the calluses.
  • Use a pumice stone: Using gentle pressure, scrape away at the callus with a pumice stone. Be careful not to remove too much skin, as this can lead to pain and infection.
  • Switch to better-fitting shoes: Choose a shoe that is not too tight or too loose. This will reduce friction and help prevent calluses or worsening them.
  • Visit a podiatrist or dermatologist: They can safely shave the callus down and help you manage it.

Prevention

Preventing calluses is key. Some strategies to prevent calluses from forming include:

  • Keep your feet well-moisturized.
  • Make sure your shoes fit correctly.
  • Use a pumice stone regularly to slough off dead skin.

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

You should visit your healthcare provider if any of the following are true:

  • You have diabetes: People with diabetes can experience a lack of circulation and sensation in the feet, which leads to difficulty healing and can lead to infection.
  • If you have signs of infection: Signs of an infected callus include redness, pain, swelling, and oozing or pus from the callus.
  • Home remedies have failed to resolve the calluses: You may need to see a podiatrist to get them professionally removed.
  • If the pain does not go away: After trying other conservative methods, your podiatrist may recommend surgery if the pain persists.

Calluses are not usually harmful, but if you notice an infection contact your healthcare provider.

Summary

Calluses are thick, hardened areas of dead skin that appear on the feet and hands. They are the result of prolonged friction or pressure on the affected skin. Calluses rarely cause pain or are a cause for concern. If a callus is showing signs of infection, such as pain or swelling, see your healthcare provider for treatment.

A Word From Verywell

While calluses are generally not harmful, they can cause insecurity for those experiencing them, especially during sandal season. If you have calluses, the best way to treat them is to identify and address the cause. For example, if ill-fitting shoes are the reason, swap out for a more comfortable pair.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can foot calluses be permanently removed?

    Yes, a podiatrist can permanently remove a callus surgically. It's an outpatient procedure that is usually minimally invasive.

  • How does a podiatrist remove calluses?

    A podiatrist can remove calluses with a sterile surgical blade, removing a layer of dead skin with each swipe. After the dead skin has been removed, the podiatrist will stop and smooth the edges with a pumice stone. This will help keep the feet comfortable.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to treat corns and calluses.

  2. DeLauro T and DeLauro M (2012) Chapter 98: Corns and CallusesFitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine (8th Edition). New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN-13: 978-0071669047.

  3. Advancing Foot and Ankle Medicine and Surgery. Corns and calluses.

By Molly Burford
Molly Burford is a mental health advocate and wellness book author with almost 10 years of experience in digital media.