If you’re dealing with a painful callus on your foot, relief may seem out of reach. However, there are easy strategies that can help alleviate this discomfort. LMD Podiatry, led by the expert board-certified Dr. Lauren Dabakaroff, specializes in providing advanced foot and ankle care. Whether you have pediatric or diabetic foot issues, or even conditions like Achilles Tendonitis and bunions, our state-of-the-art diagnostics and personalized solutions can bring relief. We prioritize your foot health and offer same-day appointments in a friendly environment. Don’t suffer needlessly – call us at 954-680-7133 for a consultation and start the journey towards pain-free feet.

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Understanding Calluses

What are calluses?

Calluses are thickened areas of the skin that develop as a result of repeated friction, pressure, or irritation. They often occur on the feet, specifically on the soles, heels, or areas that come into contact with footwear. Calluses can vary in size and can sometimes be painful or uncomfortable. They are a natural defense mechanism of the skin to protect underlying tissues from damage.

Causes of calluses

Calluses can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common cause is repetitive friction or pressure on the skin. This can be the result of activities such as walking or running, wearing ill-fitting shoes, or using tools or equipment that put pressure on the hands. Other causes include structural deformities of the foot, such as hammer toes or bunions, which can cause abnormal pressure distribution.

Symptoms of calluses

The symptoms of calluses can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the callus. Common symptoms include a thickened, hard area of skin, a rough or dry texture, and a yellow or grayish color. Calluses can sometimes be painful, especially if they develop on weight-bearing areas of the foot. Additionally, the pressure exerted by a callus can cause underlying tissues to become inflamed, leading to further discomfort.

Preventive Measures

Wear comfortable footwear

One of the key preventive measures for calluses is to wear comfortable footwear that fits properly. Shoes that are too tight or have high heels can cause excessive pressure on the feet and lead to the development of calluses. It is important to choose shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning, and to avoid footwear that causes friction or rubs against the skin.

Use foot creams and moisturizers

Keeping the skin on your feet well-moisturized can help prevent the formation of calluses. Regularly applying a foot cream or moisturizer can help soften the skin, reduce dryness, and minimize the risk of friction and pressure. Look for a moisturizer specifically formulated for feet, as these often contain ingredients that can help to exfoliate the skin and remove dead cells.

Avoid excessive pressure

Avoiding excessive pressure on the feet is another important preventive measure. This can be achieved by wearing properly fitting shoes, avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the feet, and practicing good foot hygiene. It is important to be mindful of any repetitive movements or activities that may be contributing to the development of calluses and take steps to modify or reduce them.

Use protective padding

Using protective padding can help cushion the feet and reduce friction and pressure. This can be particularly useful for individuals who engage in activities that put a lot of strain on the feet, such as running or playing sports. There are various types of protective padding available, including gel pads, moleskin, or silicone inserts, all of which can provide added comfort and protection.

Home Remedies

Soak feet in warm water

Soaking your feet in warm water can help soften the skin and make it easier to remove calluses. Fill a basin or tub with warm water and soak your feet for about 10-15 minutes. You can add Epsom salts or a few drops of essential oils for further relaxation. After soaking, gently dry your feet and proceed with the next steps of callus removal.

Exfoliate the callus

After soaking your feet, you can use a pumice stone or a foot file to gently exfoliate the callus. Wet the stone or file and rub it gently over the callus in circular motions. This will help to remove dead skin cells and gradually reduce the thickness of the callus. Be careful not to rub too aggressively, as this can cause irritation or injury to the surrounding healthy skin.

Apply lemon juice

Lemon juice contains natural acids that can help break down the buildup of dead skin cells. After exfoliating the callus, you can apply freshly squeezed lemon juice directly onto the affected area. Leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. Repeat this process daily until the callus starts to soften and reduce in size.

Use over-the-counter callus removers

Over-the-counter callus removers are products that contain keratolytic agents, such as salicylic acid, that help to soften and break down the callus. These products usually come in the form of creams, gels, or patches, and can be applied directly to the callus. Follow the instructions provided on the packaging and be cautious when using these products, as they can cause irritation if not used properly.

Medical Treatments

Consult a podiatrist

If home remedies and preventive measures do not effectively alleviate your callus or if you have a particularly painful or persistent callus, it is advisable to consult a podiatrist. A podiatrist is a medical professional specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of foot conditions. They can assess your specific situation and recommend appropriate medical treatments or interventions.

Debridement or shaving of callus

A podiatrist may perform debridement or shaving of the callus to reduce its size and thickness. This procedure involves the use of specialized tools to carefully remove the thickened skin and alleviate pressure on the underlying tissues. Debridement should only be performed by a trained professional to ensure safety and minimize the risk of infection or injury.

Prescription medication

In some cases, a podiatrist may prescribe medication to treat calluses. This can include topical creams or ointments containing stronger concentrations of keratolytic agents, such as urea or lactic acid. These medications can help soften the callus and promote its gradual reduction. It is important to follow the prescribed regimen and inform your podiatrist of any adverse reactions or side effects.

Custom orthotics

For individuals with underlying foot deformities or structural abnormalities that contribute to the development of calluses, custom orthotics may be recommended. Orthotics are specially designed shoe inserts that help improve foot function, redistribute pressure, and provide support to the feet. They can help correct biomechanical imbalances and reduce the risk of calluses and other foot problems.

Callus Removal Tools

Pumice stone

A pumice stone is a natural volcanic rock that is highly effective in exfoliating calluses. It has a rough texture that helps to gently remove dead skin cells and reduce the thickness of the callus. To use a pumice stone, wet it with warm water and gently rub it in circular motions over the callus. Regular use can help keep calluses under control and maintain smoother, healthier skin.

Electric callus remover

An electric callus remover is a battery-operated device that uses rotating or oscillating heads to remove calluses. These devices are designed to be gentle on the skin while effectively reducing the size of the callus. They typically come with different speed and intensity settings to accommodate individual preferences and callus severity.

Foot file

A foot file is a handheld tool with a rough surface that can be used to file down calluses. It is usually made of metal, ceramic, or abrasive materials and is designed to be used on dry skin. By gently rubbing the foot file over the callus, you can gradually reduce its thickness and smooth out rough areas. Regular use of a foot file can help maintain softer, healthier feet.

Callus shaver

A callus shaver is a handheld tool that features a razor blade or sharp cutting edge to shave off calluses. It is important to use callus shavers with caution, as improper use can cause cuts or injuries to the skin. Only use a callus shaver on thick calluses and avoid applying excessive pressure. It is advisable to consult a podiatrist or a trained professional for guidance on proper use.

Natural Remedies

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe and protect the skin. It can be used as a natural remedy for calluses by applying a few drops of diluted tea tree oil directly onto the callus. Gently massage it into the skin and leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing it off. Repeat this process daily until the callus improves.

Epsom salt soak

An Epsom salt soak can help soften the skin and relieve discomfort associated with calluses. Dissolve a handful of Epsom salt in warm water and soak your feet for about 10-15 minutes. The minerals in the Epsom salt can help reduce inflammation and promote healing. After the soak, gently dry your feet and proceed with other callus removal techniques.

Aloe vera gel

Aloe vera gel has soothing and moisturizing properties that can help alleviate callus-related discomfort. Apply a generous amount of pure aloe vera gel onto the callus and gently massage it into the skin. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off. Aloe vera gel can help soften the callus and promote healing of the underlying tissues.

Vinegar soak

A vinegar soak can help exfoliate the skin and promote the removal of dead cells, making it an effective natural remedy for calluses. Mix equal parts of vinegar and warm water in a basin or tub and soak your feet for about 15-20 minutes. The acetic acid in vinegar can help dissolve the callus and soften the skin. After the soak, gently dry your feet and proceed with other callus removal techniques.

Managing Pain and Discomfort

Apply ice pack

If a callus is causing pain or discomfort, applying an ice pack can help numb the area and reduce inflammation. Wrap an ice pack in a thin towel and place it on the affected area for about 10-15 minutes. This can provide temporary relief and help alleviate any associated swelling or tenderness.

Use pain-relieving creams and gels

Over-the-counter pain-relieving creams or gels can help provide temporary relief from callus-related pain and discomfort. These products often contain ingredients such as lidocaine or menthol, which have numbing or cooling effects. Follow the instructions provided on the packaging and use them as directed for optimal results.

Avoid tight footwear

Wearing tight shoes can exacerbate the discomfort caused by calluses. Opt for shoes that provide ample room for your toes and have a supportive sole. This can help reduce pressure on the callus and prevent further irritation. Choosing shoes with cushioned insoles or inserts can also provide additional comfort.

Do stretching exercises

Stretching exercises can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with calluses by increasing flexibility and reducing tension in the muscles and tissues. Stretching exercises that focus on the lower leg, calf, and foot muscles can be particularly beneficial. Consult a podiatrist or physical therapist to learn appropriate stretches for your specific needs.

When to Seek Medical Help

Persistent pain

If you experience persistent pain despite home remedies and preventive measures, it is important to seek medical help. This could indicate an underlying condition or complication that requires medical attention. A podiatrist can assess your situation, determine the cause of the persistent pain, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Bleeding or infection

If a callus becomes cracked or injured and starts to bleed or shows signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. These symptoms can indicate a more serious issue and may require professional intervention to prevent further complications.

Difficulty walking

If a callus is causing significant pain or discomfort that makes it difficult for you to walk or impairs your mobility, it is advisable to consult a podiatrist. They can assess the situation, identify the underlying cause, and recommend appropriate treatments or interventions to restore normal function and alleviate pain.

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Preventing Recurrence

Regular foot care routine

Establishing a regular foot care routine is crucial in preventing the recurrence of calluses. This includes daily washing and moisturizing of the feet, as well as regular exfoliation to remove dead skin cells. It is important to pay attention to any areas prone to callus formation and take proactive measures to prevent excessive friction or pressure.

Wearing proper footwear

Wearing properly fitting shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning is essential in preventing the recurrence of calluses. Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or constrictive, as this can lead to increased pressure on the feet. Opt for shoes that have a wide toe box, breathable materials, and proper arch support.

Avoiding excessive pressure

Avoiding excessive pressure on the feet is crucial in preventing the recurrence of calluses. Be mindful of activities or movements that put strain on the feet, and modify or reduce them if necessary. Use protective padding or cushioning inserts in shoes to reduce friction and distribute pressure evenly.

Using protective padding

Using protective padding, such as gel pads or moleskin, can help cushion the feet and prevent friction and pressure that can lead to calluses. Apply the padding directly onto areas prone to callus formation before putting on shoes or engaging in activities that put pressure on the feet. This can help reduce the risk of callus recurrence.


Take action now for pain-free feet by implementing the strategies mentioned above for callus relief and prevention. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and preventive measures for calluses is crucial in maintaining healthy and comfortable feet. Whether using home remedies, seeking medical treatments, or utilizing callus removal tools, it is important to take care of your feet and prioritize foot health. By following these strategies, you can alleviate callus-related pain, manage discomfort, and maintain soft, healthy feet.

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