Get Rid of Corns and Calluses on Your Feet With These Remedies

Foot soak for calluses
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Corns and calluses are thick, hardened areas of skin that are caused by repeated rubbing, friction, or pressure. They can form anywhere but are commonly found on the hands, toes, heels, or soles of the feet.

Corns are small, defined regions of thickened skin that usually form on bony areas of the foot, such as the sides or bottom of the foot or in between or on the tops of your toes.

Often painful or sensitive to touch, corns are caused by repeated pressure from tight shoes or activities like running.

Calluses are less-defined patches of hard skin. Typically larger than corns and rarely painful, calluses are often found on the heel, ball of the foot, between the toes, on the big toe, or on the hands and fingers. Tennis, golf, weightlifting, gymnastics, or playing the guitar or violin are common causes.

To treat corns and calluses, here are some remedies and tips that may help:

1) Remove the Cause of the Pressure

The first step to getting rid of your corns and calluses is removing the source of the friction or pressure. Most corns and calluses will go away when the cause is removed.

Have your feet measured periodically. With aging, feet may get longer and wider, the protective padding on the feet may thin, and arches may become flatter. As a result, your shoes may become tighter or put pressure on your feet.

Be sure that your shoes fit (avoiding too tight or loose shoes), wear socks with shoes, and change your heels if they aggravate the problem. You should be able to wiggle your toes in your shoes (a shoe repair store may be able to stretch leather shoes where they are tight).

If you play sports or use hand tools, wear protective gloves.

2) Soak Your Feet in Warm Water

Soaking your feet in warm water for approximately 10 to 20 minutes may help soften calluses and may even temporarily reduce pain by decreasing swelling and inflammation below the skin. After the foot soak, dry your feet and moisturize.

3) Gently Rub the Corn or Callus With a Pumice Stone

Softening calluses with a foot soak means they can be very gently worn down with a pumice stone, as long as it's not painful or doesn't take off too much skin (which can cause bleeding and infection). Do not cut or shave corns or calluses, because that can increase the risk of infection.

You can repeat the soak and pumice stone exfoliation several times a week until your corn gets smaller.

4) Moisturize the Area

Look for lotions or creams with urea or lactic acid, which help gradually soften and dissolve thickened skin. They can be found at any drugstore in the lotion section.  

Another option is castor oil, a thick oil that can be purchased at the drugstore. Before going to bed, try dipping a cotton swab in castor oil and applying it to the affected area. Put on a pair of old socks to prevent your bed sheets from getting stained. Castor oil should not be applied to broken skin.

You can also moisturize regularly with vitamin E or calendula herbal cream or oil to help keep skin soft and prevent the formation of painful skin cracks.

5) Protect the Area

To protect the area from further pressure and irritation, look for non-medicated corn or callus adhesive pads at the drugstore. You can wear them under your socks and shoes (or gloves).

When to See Your Doctor

If you have any concerns about your feet, including the appearance of new bumps or growths, consult your doctor before trying any remedy at home.

If you have diabetes, you should not attempt to self-treat your corns or calluses.

Your feet require proper treatment in order to prevent serious complications such as foot ulcers and infection.

Although gentle exfoliation may help in some cases, if your corns or calluses are extensive, bothersome, persistent, very painful, or inflamed, you should consult your doctor.

To remove the corn, a health care provider may be able to help remove the layers of hard skin. Do not try to cut or shave away the hard skin on your own, because it can increase your risk of getting a foot infection.

The Bottom Line

Preventative measures and gentle home remedies may help to soften hardened skin. Just be sure to seek professional care when appropriate.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances, or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.