In the realm of foot health, calluses can cause significant discomfort and pain when they become bothersome. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is crucial to understand the underlying causes and explore effective strategies to alleviate the discomfort. This article, “When Calluses On Feet Hurt: Causes And Relief Strategies,” aims to provide valuable insights on the subject. Led by the expertise of Dr. Lauren Dabakaroff, a board-certified podiatrist at LMD Podiatry, this article sheds light on the causes of painful calluses and offers relief strategies to enhance your overall foot health. With a strong focus on both surgical and non-surgical solutions, Dr. Dabakaroff’s dedication to advanced foot and ankle care ensures that you receive the best possible care in a welcoming and professional environment.

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Causes of Calluses on Feet

Calluses on the feet are a common foot condition that many people experience. They are thickened areas of skin that form in response to repeated friction and pressure on the foot. There are several factors that can contribute to the development of calluses.

Friction and Pressure

One of the main causes of calluses on the feet is friction and pressure. This can occur when there is repetitive rubbing or pressure on a specific area of the foot. This often happens when wearing ill-fitting shoes or engaging in activities that put excessive pressure on the feet, such as running or walking for long periods of time.

Improper Footwear

Wearing shoes that do not fit properly can also lead to the formation of calluses on the feet. Shoes that are too tight can cause friction and pressure on certain areas of the foot, leading to the development of calluses. On the other hand, shoes that are too loose can cause the foot to slide around, creating additional friction and pressure points.

Abnormal Foot Structure

Another potential cause of calluses on the feet is an abnormal foot structure. Some people naturally have foot deformities or abnormalities that can lead to increased friction and pressure on specific areas of the foot. This can include conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, or flat feet. These structural issues can make certain areas of the foot more prone to developing calluses.

Symptoms of Painful Calluses

While calluses themselves are not usually painful, they can cause discomfort and pain in some cases. It is important to recognize the symptoms of painful calluses in order to seek appropriate treatment.

Thickened and Hardened Skin

One of the main symptoms of painful calluses is the presence of thickened and hardened skin on the feet. Calluses typically appear as areas of thickened, rough, and sometimes yellowish skin. They can vary in size and shape depending on the location on the foot and the underlying cause.

Pain and Discomfort

Pain and discomfort are common symptoms of painful calluses. The pressure and friction caused by the callus can irritate the surrounding tissues and nerves, leading to pain and discomfort. This can be especially problematic when walking or standing for extended periods of time.

Difficulty Walking or Standing

In some cases, painful calluses can make it difficult to walk or stand. The discomfort and pain associated with the callus can affect your ability to bear weight on the affected foot, making it challenging to engage in everyday activities.

calluses on feet hurt

Risk Factors for Painful Calluses

While calluses can develop in anyone, there are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of experiencing painful calluses.

Repetitive Activities

Engaging in repetitive activities that put excessive pressure or friction on the feet can increase the risk of developing painful calluses. This can include activities such as running, dancing, or any other activity that involves repetitive movement of the feet.

Foot Deformities

Having certain foot deformities or abnormalities can also increase the risk of developing painful calluses. Conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, or flat feet can cause uneven distribution of weight on the feet, leading to increased friction and pressure on specific areas.

Diabetes or Impaired Circulation

Individuals with diabetes or impaired circulation are more prone to developing calluses on the feet. Diabetes can affect nerve function and blood flow to the feet, making it harder to detect and treat calluses. Poor circulation can also contribute to the formation of calluses, as it can impair the skin’s ability to heal and regenerate properly.

Diagnosis of Painful Calluses

If you are experiencing painful calluses on your feet, it is important to seek a proper diagnosis from a healthcare professional. There are several methods that can be used to diagnose painful calluses.

Physical Examination

During a physical examination, the healthcare provider will visually assess the calluses and examine the foot for any signs of underlying conditions or abnormalities. They may also feel the area to assess the texture and thickness of the callus.

Medical History Review

Providing a thorough medical history can help in the diagnosis of painful calluses. The healthcare provider may ask about previous foot issues, activities that may have contributed to the development of calluses, and any underlying medical conditions that may be affecting foot health.

X-rays or Imaging Tests

In some cases, x-rays or other imaging tests may be recommended to assess the underlying structures of the foot and rule out any fractures or other conditions that may be contributing to the development of painful calluses. These tests can provide valuable information to guide treatment decisions.

Prevention of Painful Calluses

While it may not always be possible to prevent calluses entirely, there are several preventive measures that can help reduce the risk of developing painful calluses on the feet.

Wear Proper-fitting Shoes

Choosing shoes that fit properly is essential in preventing calluses. It is important to ensure that the shoes provide adequate arch support and have enough room in the toe box to avoid excessive friction and pressure on the toes and other areas of the foot.

Use Protective Pads or Cushions

Using protective pads or cushions can help reduce friction and pressure on specific areas of the foot that are prone to callus formation. These pads can be placed over the callus to provide a barrier between the foot and the shoe, helping to prevent further irritation.

Moisturize and Exfoliate Feet

Regularly moisturizing and exfoliating the feet can help keep the skin soft and supple, reducing the risk of callus formation. Using a moisturizing cream or lotion can help prevent dryness and cracking of the skin, while gentle exfoliation can remove dead skin cells that can contribute to callus development.

calluses on feet hurt

Home Remedies for Callus Relief

In addition to preventive measures, there are several home remedies that can help provide relief from painful calluses on the feet.

Soak Feet in Warm Water

Soaking the feet in warm water can help soften the calluses, making them easier to remove. Adding Epsom salt or a few drops of essential oils to the water can provide additional benefits and promote relaxation.

Use a Pumice Stone

After soaking the feet, using a pumice stone to gently exfoliate the callus can help remove dead skin cells and reduce the thickness of the callus. It is important to be gentle and avoid excessive scrubbing, as this can cause further irritation.

Apply Moisturizing Cream or Ointment

After exfoliating, applying a moisturizing cream or ointment to the affected area can help keep the skin hydrated and prevent further dryness. Look for products specifically formulated for callus relief, as they may contain ingredients that help soften and reduce the thickness of the callus.

Medical Treatments for Painful Calluses

If home remedies and preventive measures do not provide adequate relief, medical treatments may be necessary to manage painful calluses.

Debridement or Shaving of Calluses

A healthcare professional may perform debridement or callus shaving to remove the thickened skin of the callus. This can be done using a scalpel or other specialized tools. Removing the excess skin can help alleviate pain and discomfort.

Orthotic Shoe Inserts

Orthotic shoe inserts, also known as orthotics, can help redistribute pressure and provide cushioning to areas of the foot that are prone to callus formation. These inserts can help correct foot alignment and reduce friction, thereby reducing the risk of calluses.

Corticosteroid Injections

In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation and pain associated with calluses. These injections can help alleviate pain and discomfort, particularly when other conservative treatments have been unsuccessful.

calluses on feet hurt

Surgical Options for Severe Calluses

For severe or persistent calluses that do not respond to conservative treatments, surgical options may be considered to provide long-term relief.

Callus Removal Surgery

Callus removal surgery involves the surgical excision of the callus and any underlying bony prominence or abnormal tissue that may be causing the callus to form. This procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia and may require a period of recovery and rehabilitation.

Correction of Foot Deformities

If a foot deformity is contributing to the development of calluses, corrective surgery may be required to address the underlying issue. This can involve procedures such as bunionectomy, hammertoe correction, or realignment of the bones in the foot to improve overall foot function and reduce the risk of calluses.

Arthroplasty or Joint Repair

In some cases, severe calluses may be associated with joint deformities or arthritis in the foot. Arthroplasty or joint repair surgery may be necessary to address these underlying issues and alleviate the pressure and friction that contribute to callus formation.

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Complications of Untreated Calluses

If left untreated, calluses can lead to several complications that can affect foot health and overall well-being.

Ulcer Formation

Prolonged and untreated calluses can cause the skin to become thick and dry, increasing the risk of ulcer formation. Ulcers are open sores that can be prone to infection and may be difficult to heal, particularly in individuals with diabetes or impaired circulation.


Calluses that are not properly managed can become infected. Bacteria can enter through cracks in the skin or open sores, leading to localized infections. Signs of infection include redness, warmth, swelling, and increased pain. Prompt medical attention is necessary to prevent the spread of infection.

Chronic Foot Pain

Untreated calluses can cause chronic foot pain and discomfort, making it difficult to engage in everyday activities. The constant pressure and friction on the affected areas can lead to ongoing pain and may require more aggressive treatment options to provide relief.

When to Seek Professional Help

While minor calluses can often be managed at home, there are certain situations where it is important to seek professional help for your painful calluses.

Persistent Pain or Discomfort

If your calluses are causing persistent pain or discomfort that is not alleviated with home remedies, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. They can assess the severity of the calluses and recommend appropriate treatment options to address the underlying cause.

Difficulty Walking or Standing

If your calluses are significantly affecting your ability to walk or stand, it is important to seek professional help. The pain and discomfort associated with the calluses may be a sign of an underlying issue that requires medical intervention.

Presence of Infection

If your calluses show signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, swelling, or pus, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. Infections can worsen quickly and may require antibiotics or other medical treatments to prevent complications.

In conclusion, calluses on the feet can be a source of pain and discomfort if left untreated. Understanding the causes, symptoms, risk factors, and available treatments can help individuals take preventive measures and seek appropriate medical attention when necessary. By properly managing and treating calluses, individuals can maintain foot health and overall well-being.

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