How to Get Rid of Calluses on Feet

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You may be able to get rid of calluses on your feet with natural remedies. You also can consider the underlying causes of calluses on the hands and feet, which may help prevent them. For stubborn calluses, you may need to 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 as the result of pressure on the area of skin affected. It can be caused by prolonged friction, rubbing, or irritation.

The skin can either present as rough and hard or flaky and patchy due to hyperkeratinization, a thickening of the skin's top layer that also happens with corns (they're smaller than calluses, with a hard center around inflamed skin).

Both calluses and 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.

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 treat foot calluses at home. These include:

Salicylic Acid

Try salicylic acid. To start, choose an over-the-counter 17% salicylic acid product. Apply to the callus for three to seven days in a row. You can also use a medicated corn pad.

When using salicylic acid or a corn pad on your feet, apply petroleum jelly to the healthy skin around the area you're treating in order to prevent irritation.

You should not use salicylic acid if you have certain underlying medical issues such as diabetes. Talk to your healthcare provider before trying this remedy.


You can try to get rid of calluses on feet by applying moisturizing cream or lotion. Products containing salicylic acid, ammonium lactate, or urea can be helpful in softening the calluses.

Pumice Stones

A pumice stone may help remove a callus. Using gentle pressure, scrape away at the callus, but be careful not to remove too much skin, as this can lead to pain and infection. You can also use a nail file or emery board.

Before using this method, soak your feet in warm, soapy water for five to 10 minutes. This will help soften the skin and make the callous easier to remove. A warm water soak can also help relieve any potential pain or discomfort you may be experiencing.

Changing Shoes

Sometimes, calluses occur because of ill-fitting shoes. You may be able to get rid of calluses on your feet by switching to better-quality footwear that fits well. Choose a shoe that is not too tight or too loose. This will reduce friction and help prevent calluses or keep existing calluses from worsening.


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

  • Keeping your feet well-moisturized
  • Making sure your shoes fit correctly
  • Using a pumice stone regularly to slough off dead skin

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

You may want to consider seeing a podiatrist or dermatologist if:

  • You have diabetes: People with diabetes can experience a lack of circulation and sensation in the feet, which can cause difficulty healing and 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.

Keep in mind that foot health is especially important as you age. Calluses are common in older people and can be associated with other medical conditions, or contribute to risks such as balance problems and falls.

Calluses are not usually harmful, but if you notice an infection contact your healthcare provider. You may need specific interventions, like therapeutic footwear recommended for people diagnosed with diabetes who have calluses related to their illness.


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.

Certain home remedies may be able to get rid of calluses, such as applying salicylic acid, changing your footwear, or using a pumice stone. If your calluses don't resolve using these methods or are 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 them 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.

6 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.
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  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to treat corns and calluses.

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

  4. Qin Q, Oe M, Ohashi Y, et al. Factors associated with the local increase of skin temperature, 'hotspot,' of callus in diabetic foot: A cross-sectional study. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2022;16(5):1174-1182. doi:10.1177/19322968211011181 

  5. Asgari N, Yeowell G, Sadeghi-Demneh E. A comparison of the efficacy of textured insoles on balance performance in older people with versus without plantar callosities. Gait Posture. 2022;94:217-221. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2022.03.022. 

  6. American Diabetes Association Professional Practice Committee. 12. Retinopathy, neuropathy, and foot care: Standards of medical care in diabetes—2022Diabetes Care. 2022;45(Supplement_1):S185-S194. doi:10.2337/dc22-S012

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